Rachael Smart wants to become an early childhood educator. She sees herself as a teacher who develops more than just daily lesson plans; she wants to teach important life lessons and share real-world experiences with her students.
Rachael balances a full academic schedule and supports College of Education, Health, and Human Services faculty and staff as a work-study student. She has served as a two-year president of the Student Michigan of Education Association (SMEA), an organization that creates events and opportunities for UM-Dearborn’s teacher education students.
Rachael describes working with SMEA on the Blanket 4 Kids project she helped organize as one of her most defining moments. The blanket-making program, which is run by the nonprofit organization Child’s Hope, provides no-sew blankets to children of suspected child abuse.
“The feedback from the university, as well as the support from faculty and staff, truly made this a remarkable event. We were able to produce a mass amount of blankets to be donated to Child’s Hope and gain knowledge and understanding for an issue that is so prominent in our surrounding community,” said Rachael.
Rachael believes in taking on the role as a leader, working to create a positive environment and using a hands-on approach to fix a problem. She feels strongly that all children should have equal rights to an education and healthy, nurturing lifestyle.
“I believe it is necessary to help create a stable foundation for children academically, but also emotionally and physically, for our future,” says Rachael.
“Rachael always sought to make connections to what we were reading and discussing in class to the real world of the children she was working with. Her focus was always on improving her students’ literacy skills and helping them discover themselves as readers," said Martha Adler, associate professor. “Rachael would often read beyond the assigned texts, digging deeper to learn more to help her students.”
Moving forward, Rachael plans to spend time on what matters most to her: her students.
“From a young age, I always knew what I wanted for my future. Without the continuous loving support of my parents, I do not believe I would have had the confidence to reach for that dream and then some,” said Rachael. “Early on my parents instilled the importance of education, but also learning from mistakes. As I continue my education, work hard to achieve my goals and continue developing the ability to see things from different perspectives, I believe I am utilizing my parents’ lessons to their full potential.”