As you know, my very dear friend, Doug Smith has just retired from teaching, after 32 years.
32 years of giving of himself to his students. Never once in all that time, did he ask a favor that wasn’t to benefit one of his shows or students. The last eight years he spent building the theater department at Westview High School, in Poway, California. Literally building, from the ground up, both the facility and the tradition of fine work that the students so proudly demonstrate with each show and each performance. In this day and age, you’d be hard pressed to find a finer group of people than the theater students at Westview. Note I didn’t say ‘young people’; they are simply the best examples of what fine and decent means, at any age. Now due to California’s budget crisis, public schools across the state are facing loss or severe reduction of the arts classes. Theater, music, dance, they are all in jeopardy.
The legacy Douglas leaves behind him is not the building or even the theater arts program he and his students created; it is the countless lives he has touched and left better just for knowing him and learning from his example of what humanity should be, but so often falls short. Should Westview High School never see another curtain call, those of us that know and love Douglas still have our memories and are better people because of them. But as wonderful it has been to have him for a friend and teacher these many years, it would be equally tragic if we deny future generations at least the same opportunity. There are other Doug Smiths’ waiting in the wings to take the stage. Other fine teachers, eager and willing to make a difference in their students and in the world. God forbid we take that stage away just as a young teacher is ready to make his entrance.
Take a minute and count the number of teachers that really made a difference in your life, count high school and college. If you need to use both hands, you are truly fortunate; most of us can do it with one or two fingers. Now look at finger number one and think about the teacher you first thought of as you listed them. I’ll bet he or she was an art teacher, drama coach, or some other liberal arts teacher. Education is more than learning math and science, it is learning how to be a person and a member of society.
I know there are far too many people in need both here in the United States and abroad. And because there are so many that need help we sometimes feel inadequate to help enough, and let that feeling keep us from helping at all. I’m going to ask each of you, to visit this page and make a donation. If all you can give is $5.00, then give that and know that it will help. If you can give more, then do so.
A twelve year old girl put it this way: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ Anne Frank