Easter Walk-Through, the “Magic Penny” and Birthday Party for Jesus: These Christ Methodist Day School traditions have something in common.
Dorris Smith, lovingly known on campus as Mrs. Bible Smith, brought all of them, and many more, to CMDS through her near 20-year career as the school’s first Bible teacher.
Current and former faculty shared their memories of Mrs. Smith during a recent Chapel service where she was honored as the first recipient of the CMDS Distinguished Servant Award. A recurring theme was Mrs. Smith’s knack for bringing the Bible to life.
Linda Plunk described her as “unforgettable,” a woman who loved Jesus, loved her family and loved her students.
Carol Deaver said Mrs. Smith taught her to love each and every child unconditionally. She described her vision of Elijah’s Chariot of Fire from 2 Kings 2, visualized with red and yellow crepe streaming from a wheelchair.
“When the time was right, she pushed that wheelchair into the elevator and pressed the ‘up’ button,” Mrs. Deaver said.
As a student of Mrs. Smith’s, Jenny Wilford remembered building the Tower of Babylon with sugar cubes.
She also referenced Mrs. Smith’s Giving Trees, which CMDS perpetuates today with the annual Giving Tree drive that finished up this week. Through the drive, members of the Student Council Association and National Elementary Honor Society collected health supplies for Brinkley Heights Urban Academy.
CMDS Blessed With Continuity in Bible Teaching
Fifth and 6th grade literature teacher Nell Womack was a CMDS 3rd grader when Mrs. Smith was called home. She spent the rest of her elementary years learning about Jesus from Mrs. Smith’s daughter, Dorree Jane.
Mrs. Womack noted that Cheryl Bryant is only the third person to teach Bible at CMDS, a job she’s had for about 20 years.
“That is proof that God has us in the palm of his hand,” Mrs. Womack said during the service. “When you hear Mrs. Bryant speak, you know the Lord is using her to spread the word.”
Dorris Smith passed away in January 1992 after a battle with breast cancer.
Three of her children attended last week’s Chapel: Dorree Jane Smith, Susan Heckle and Tripp Smith with his wife Holly. Her legacy at CMDS lives on in countless ways, but perhaps most visibly through her twin grandsons and current PK students Walt and Tate.
There is also the Children’s Prayer Garden, which decorates the CMDS courtyard. The school community created the garden in 1991 to honor Mrs. Smith as she was battling cancer. Her family recently gave it new life.
“For us, the prayer garden is a symbol of Mrs. Smith’s faith and fervent love for the Father and for teaching and sharing His love with all those she could,” Holly Smith said. “But hopefully it’s also a sweet retreat for anyone to reflect, pray, talk or even play.”
Head of School Dr. Bryan Williams created the Distinguished Servant Award as a way to celebrate and remember those individuals who have helped shape the culture of CMDS as well as mark the school’s 60th anniversary in the 2017-18 school year. An official induction ceremony will take place in the fall.
“CMDS would not be the school it is if it weren’t for Dorris Smith,” Mrs. Deaver said. “Most of our traditions were started by her in some way or another. God truly blessed the school with her presence.”
The Magic Penny song
“Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
It’s just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor.”