Sylvia Smith, 85, elementary school teacher

March 22, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Sylvia Smith, who taught thousands of youngsters during her 24-year career as a Baltimore County teacher at Chase Elementary School in Essex, died Wednesday of cancer at the home of relatives in Frederick. She was 85.

Mrs. Smith lived in Essex from 1954 until she moved in with her relatives about three months ago.

"She really loved her students. She took great pride in them and the success they had," said Duane Musgrove, her grandson and one of her former kindergarten students. "She showed them a lot of love. She was very much an encourager."

Mrs. Smith also taught first grade, special education classes and advanced education courses at Chase Elementary.

She was a strict disciplinarian, and her students knew when she was angry or meant business.

"Sure, she was easygoing, but if you crossed that line, she let you know about it," said Gina Nogle, a hairstylist who was a friend and former student. "But she was always someone we knew cared."

A native of Dorothy, W. Va., Mrs. Smith received a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Concord College in Athens, W. Va., in 1939 and a master's degree in elementary education from the then University of Maryland in 1968.

The former Sylvia Webb married Shelton Lacy Smith in 1939; he died in 1973.

She began her career in 1931, teaching all grades in a one-room schoolhouse in West Virginia.

Glen Rodell, a former county teacher who taught with Mrs. Smith at Chase Elementary, said Mrs. Smith enjoyed the one-room schoolhouse.

"I think she liked the idea that she had everything right there in front of her and could control it better," Mr. Rodell said. "She said she could devote equal time to each of the students in that one room."

Mrs. Smith liked to do quilting, needlepoint, sewing and following the Orioles. She often kept score on a yellow legal pad, using her own scoring system.

She was a member of the Senior Adult Coalition, the Women's Missionary Union and the Christian Women. She also belonged to Mars Hill Baptist Church in Essex, where she taught Sunday school.

"The love of knowledge was one thing, but she also taught the Bible at Sunday school," Mr. Musgrove said.

Each year, she sent out more than 120 Christmas cards, mostly to students with whom she had stayed in touch.

Services were held yesterday.

In addition to her grandson, survivors include a daughter, Patricia L. Ringsdorf of Niceville, Fla.; a brother, James Webb of Orangeburg, S.C.; two sisters, Ona Fletcher of Chicago and Helen Johnson of Oakridge, Tenn.; four other grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/22/98

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