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Finding creative ways to involve every student in classroom learning

Kathi Smith standing with her family.

◆ Kathi Smith is a special education teacher at Afton Elementary.

Kathi Smith has been an educator for 25 years. She started teaching pre-school as a high school senior and continued in that role, supporting herself through college.

Today, after working in LCSD2 for 11 years, she serves Afton Elementary School as a High Needs Special Education Teacher and Case Manager, helping students Kindergarten through 3rd Grade.

Kathi was raised in Riverton, Utah as one of five children in a family where educating was a tradition as her father taught in the Granite School District for 25 years. Star Valley was also a family tradition with her mother who descended from a Star Valley founding family.

“I can remember during the summers, we would bring my Grandma to Star Valley to visit her sister and other family members, visit graves, and have family reunions,” said Kathi. “I have always loved Star Valley and feel blessed that I get to call it home.”

Kathi met her husband, Brett Smith, in 1991 while attending Utah State University. Brett is a 1991 SVHS graduate who then served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The couple reconnected and married in 2009.

Being a mom to her four ‘amazing’ children and a grandmother to her two ‘beautiful’ grandchildren is one of Kathi’s great loves. She has children living in North Logan, North Ogden, and Star Valley.

Brett began working for Aviat in Afton only a month after their wedding, which brought the family to Star Valley. Kathi soon began working with LCSD2 as a long-term substitute teacher and came to love the district.

“My mom says I was born to be a Special Education Teacher because my older sister was born with severe disabilities,” said Kathi. “Growing up, my sister would watch me and want to be involved. I can remember as a little girl trying to modify different activities so she could participate in things like riding a bike or going for a walk. I have just always wanted to be a Special Education Teacher.”

“One of the most pivotal moments of my teaching career was when my supervisor was reviewing an observation with me,” said Kathi. “At the end of the conversation he said, ‘If I had a child with high needs, I would want him to be in your program.’ It was at that moment that I knew I was truly born to be a High Needs Teacher and I was where I was meant to be.”

Kathi is pursuing a master’s in Education Leadership at the University of Wyoming and is excited to see where that increased knowledge and experience will take her.

The people she works with make her work fulfilling. “I really love the students and families I work with. I love my para-professional team. I wish there were a way to provide my paras with more recognition for all that they do. They truly go beyond the extra mile. The staff at Afton Elementary are exceptional and I truly feel blessed to be a part of this wonderful school district.”