By Shannon Johnson
This school year Plevna Public School is welcoming Suzanne Smith to their team of teachers. Smith will be teaching fifth-grade science, sixth and seventh grade language and arts, and three periods of intervention.
Smith grew up in Glasgow, MT. Before graduating from Glasgow High School in 1985 Smith participated in band, cross country, track and speech and drama. After graduation Smith decided that she wanted to pursue a higher education.
Smith attended college at Montana State University in Bozeman and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies in 1993. When she graduated college, she started out as a job coach for the developmentally disabled before starting a career as a probation and parole officer in Bozeman and Great Falls. “I started out in Bozeman and I’ve lived kind of all over. I spent ten years in Florida,” she said. “The last thirteen years I’ve been back in Montana.”
Along with probation and parole, Smith also worked in child protection and spent some time as a stay at home mom. Seven years ago, she moved to Baker and began working at the Fallon County Courthouse in the Treasurer’s Office.
In April of 2018 Smith was ready for a career path change and hit the books again, studying online through Western Governor’s University where she obtained her master’s degree in teaching in April of 2019 and did her student teaching with Mrs. Hastig in her fourth grade class at Longfellow. “I had a lot of fun with that. I really enjoyed the kids,” she said.
Smith had a long road to finding her career path as a teacher and has done a little bit of everything along the way, although teaching was what she had wanted to do when she first started college. “I love being in school and I love learning,” Smith explained. “It made sense. In the beginning I wanted to teach anyway.”
Smith is eager to begin her new career and get to know the parents and kids in the community. “I’m very excited about the group of people I’ll be working with in Plevna,” Smith smiled. “It’s a very supportive environment. The community is incredibly supportive of the school, so I’m very excited about that.”
Plevna Public School will be welcoming another new teacher this year for their fourth grade students.
Kara MacKay grew up in Superior, where her mother worked as an elementary school teacher and her father worked as a history teacher and later on, a PE teacher. During school MacKay participated in several sports as well, including basketball, volleyball, tennis, and softball. “Both of my parents coached too,” she added.
After graduating high school in 2002, MacKay moved to Cheney, WA to attend college at Eastern Washington University. After her first year in Washington, she transferred to the University of Montana in Dillon, where she would graduate in 2006. MacKay explained that her mother was her primary source of inspiration to become a teacher. “In high school I was her (MacKay’s mother) aid in her classroom and I think that helped me decide what I wanted to do.”
After graduation, MacKay taught for a year in a small town near Bethel, AK called Tuluksak. After her year there, MacKay returned to Montana and taught for four years in Sunburst, a town near Great Falls.
Recalling meeting her husband, Danny, Kara said, “He was going to the University of Montana in Missoula and I had mutual friends from Sunburst that were also going there. I think it was a Griz game actually. We were all together and we met and that was it.”
After spending several years living six hours apart, MacKay decided to take a job teaching in Troy, where Danny lived and worked. The newlyweds had their first child, a boy named Braxton who is now six years old. MacKay taught for one more year, and after three years in Troy they decided to move to Plevna so she could spend some time being a stay at home mother.
They moved to Plevna and had a little girl named Briley, who is now four. After a few years in Plevna they moved to Willard, and built a home next to Danny’s parents. The MacKay’s are currently awaiting the arrival of their third child. “This will be the last one,” chuckled MacKay. “Three is the limit.”
After five years of being a stay at home mother, MacKay is excited to get back to teaching. “This job came up and it was not the perfect timing,” she explained. “But it’s been long enough. I miss it (teaching).”
“The staff and the community seems to be really nice, so I’m excited,” MacKay smiled.