The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Alumna Stacy Smith Discovers Passion in Educating

Stacy

While she entered UMass with hopes of becoming a news anchor, Stacy Smith graduated from the Commonwealth Honors College in 2000 with entirely new goals. With a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s in education, Smith pursued her zeal for educating students.

Stacy teaches social studies and a media elective at Longmeadow High School, and coordinates an enrichment program for her community. And what led her to this position were the experiences and opportunities UMass had offered her.

After enjoying the more historical aspects of her communication classes, Smith was drawn to an academic calling. Starting on this path as a student, she worked as a CHC peer adviser. Smith fell in love with helping students with their education while developing relationships with them.

“Students came in with questions, and after talking with them, I could send them away with a sense that they learned something,” said Smith. “This was the first time that I really felt like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

When the position opened for a peer advising supervisor after she graduated, Smith didn’t hesitate to accept the offer. Although she worked a few other short-term jobs before it, Smith regained her sense of belonging when she rejoined CHC. 

Smith and her colleagues had a vision for transformation. Working there just a few years after the Honors Program became the Commonwealth Honors College, she helped shape the college into what it is today. From Pizza and Prof nights to Labor Day weekend orientations, the team reinforced a sense of community, prioritized students' opinions, and helped shape the curriculum. They organized events to bring students together and advised students in their academic and professional careers.

“We worked to see the students as humans, not just numbers,” said Smith.

While working to improve the new Honors College, Stacy pursued her master’s in education at UMass. She credits the flexibility of CHC and the Education Department for her ability to thrive in such a busy position. “They trusted me and understood the vision that I had for the career I was trying to create,” she said.

Smith found a place where she could grow and develop with students, and didn’t have plans for leaving when she was offered a position at Longmeadow High School. A hiring director was given her resume and, without even applying, Smith was offered a teaching position. 

Smith had the grades, the experience, and the credentials: She graduated Phi Beta Kappa, gained experience organizing events in a professional office, and earned a well-rounded education from both her courses and her interactions with students.

The experiences and qualifications Smith gained at UMass called for a second glance and steered her to her current position of sixteen years. Stacy combined her love for the academic aspects of her communication education into a career teaching social studies and a media and society elective. 

But her teaching trajectory doesn’t end there. Smith further cultivates her passion for helping students enhance their education in her role as Longmeadow Enrichment Program coordinator. This after-school and summer program offers classes to students of all ages, covering academic topics, social skills, and creative problem-solving tools. Courses vary from “LongMetal Robotics” and “Culinary Creations,” to “SAT Prep” and “Creative Writing.” The program does not receive funding from the district or state, so Smith is in charge of soliciting teachers and shaping creative courses that will attract and benefit students.

“My experience with Commonwealth [Honors] College was really helpful in terms of getting the enrichment coordinator position,” said Smith. “I was able to show and prove that I had run events, been involved in student programming, and managed budgets in the past.”

In addition to her busy teaching and coordinating schedules, Smith began overseeing the Longmeadow Pupil Services summer program seven years ago. This created an opportunity for those with special education and disability requirements to continue developing essential skills over the summer. 

“In order to prevent regression over the summer, the programs keep all of the students in good habits,” said Smith. “Some of them really rely on that.”

From her time as an undergraduate peer adviser to her current position deepening the education of countless students within her community, Smith has pursued her passion for pushing students toward success.

“I knew that any career that I have would have to incorporate this goal,” said Stacy. “But none of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the UMass community seeing what I was capable of and giving me the freedom and support to try to achieve it.”