Lessons Learned

Posted by Paula Paine on September 10, 2014 in "Ariane Smith", "Arie Smith", "Concert Choir", "Hungry for Change", Katrina, "New Orleans", "Pi Kappa Delta" Senior Ariane (Arie) Smith first realized that she was meant to be a teacher during a primary reading practicum at a local school. She recalls the moment.
“I was doing my first practicum ever,” says Smith. “One day I was working with a guided reading group, and a little boy said, ‘Your skin is brown!’ I simply replied, ‘Yeah, you're right. My skin is brown.’ Another little boy replied, ‘Well that's okay, because God made you that way.’ It was then that I understood that we aren't born with hate in us; it has always been a learned behavior. And that’s when I realized that becoming an educator was my calling.”
Smith is now in her last semester at Ottawa University and student teaching in a third grade class at Creekmoor Elementary in Raymore-Peculiar, Missouri. She’s come a long way from that first practicum, and from some of the hard places life has taken her.
Originally from New Orleans, Smith’s first life upheaval came as a baby of six months when her mother dropped her off at her grandmother’s house and never returned. But what was meant for bad was ultimately used for good. “My grandmother is the most inspirational person that has ever been a part of my life,” says Smith. “She instilled morals and life knowledge within me. She made me strong, smart and confident. She is the reason why I set my standards high in life, and now that she has passed on, I live my life in the hope that I make her proud.”
The second life storm hit Arie at the age of 13 when Hurricane Katrina washed away her home, her possessions, her photos and, in many ways, her childhood. After living in a homeless shelter for three weeks, a church in Harrisonville, Missouri, offered to give one family a fresh start. With fewer kids than other families, Arie, her father, aunt, grandmother, and cousin were selected to start a new life in the Show Me State. Again, what seemed like a terrible situation turned out for Arie’s good. “That year (8th grade) I attended a total of three different middle schools. Though it was a horrible situation, I am very blessed to say we survived it. Getting a second chance at life has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
And she has definitely made the most of it. While attending Harrisonville High School, Arie participated in show choir for three years and concert choir all four. She is a two-time Missouri All State Show Choir singer and was selected as one of the 50 best singers and performers in the state of Missouri. At the end of her high school career, she received the vocal music scholarship awarded to one student.
Arie was also in drama her senior year and a part of FCCLA. As a member of the “A+” program, she tutored summer school students in the community. She also tutored a 4th grade class for the entire summer of 2009 and was a freshman mentor during her junior and senior years.

All of those experiences, coupled with the receipt of academic and vocal scholarships, had an impact on her decision to attend Ottawa University, where she has continued her life makeover. Not surprisingly, she has continued her involvement while in college, serving as a resident assistant for two years, holding the position of vice president of Pi Kappa Delta as a junior, volunteering with Hungry for Change, and being a part of the Ottawa University Concert Choir. One of her most memorable experiences was traveling to Italy this past spring as part of the University choir tour.
“I believed that OU would mold me into what I needed to be to make my lifetime dream of becoming an educator come true,” says Arie, “and so far, choosing this rewarding major and OU has not failed me.”
In addition to her grandmother, Arie acknowledges another person that has played a big part in helping her realize her dream. “My dad has worked extremely hard as a single parent to help me achieve my dream,” she says. “He has always supported anything I wanted to do and has always made a way to provide me with what I need. I am forever indebted to him and grateful for the sacrifices he has made for me. My grandma raised him to be a great man and I love him very much!”
Now, just as others have invested in her life and given her a second chance, Arie wants to do the same for her students. “I hope to become that person that students remember and reminisce about when they grow older. I want to change lives!”