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Celebrating Educators: Brenham teacher inspires students to 'never give up'

First-grade teacher Wanda Smith's journey to get into teaching wasn’t the easiest but it was worth it.

BRENHAM, Texas — Teachers have gone above and beyond this year. Many educators said it is their duty and they enjoy being able to work with young minds. 

For one teacher in Brenham, her road to education wasn’t the easiest but it was worth it. 

“This year has been the most challenging year of my career ever," said Wanda Smith, a first-grade teacher at Brenham Elementary School. 

Smith has been a teacher for the last 10 years all within Brenham ISD, the school district she herself went to growing up. 

“I am a 'Brenhamite' through and through, I think I bleed green," Smith said. "I’ve been in Brenham all my life. 

Her interest in becoming an educator started while she was growing up at school. 

“I liked playing with all the kids in the neighborhood and I was the teacher," Smith said. "I liked telling people what to do.” 

After high school, she did not immediately start school for teaching because of family matters. However, she was still working in the school district, just performing other jobs. 

She worked as a custodian, bus monitor and life skills paraprofessional.

While she was working at the high school level, a situation occurred where she suddenly had to take the lead of a classroom. Smith soon realized she was performing all the jobs and responsibilities of a lead teacher, just without the pay. 

That moment inspired her to go get her teaching degree. 

“I actually went back to school after being out 20 years and was that something," Smith said.

Smith started school at Blinn College. However, she ran into a couple of obstacles getting situated back into being a student because she was out so long. 

No matter what, she never gave up. 

“If you show me how, I can do it," Smith said while describing her approach to going back to school.

After nine years in school and dealing with a lot of different personal matters, she finally got her certification to be a teacher from Sam Houston State.

"I’m here working at the same school that I cleaned," Smith said.

Smith constantly uses her story as a motivator for her students. 

“I tell them they can be anything. They can be anything they want," Smith said. "The one word they cannot say in this room is ‘Can’t’ or ‘I can’t do it.’” 

Although her message isn’t just for her students, it’s for everyone. 

“I just want people to know you can do whatever you want to do, you just have to have the will to do it," Smith said.