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Catching Up With Doug Smith

Catching Up With Doug Smith

Doug “Smitty” Smith joined the Crescent faculty in 1985, teaching history in the Middle School until he retired in 2008.

By Myles Slocombe ’92

MS: You officially joined the faculty in 1985, but I understand that wasn’t your first time teaching at Crescent?

DS: That’s right. While I was a teacher at Royal St. George’s, I came to Crescent in 1983 via an exchange with a Crescent teacher, Stephen Harper. We both taught in the Middle School and coached U-13 soccer. We returned to our home schools at the end of the academic year. I was hired at Crescent in the fall of 1985. At least, I was in the classroom, but we didn’t know whether I was the teacher or the kid. (chuckles)

MS: Amazing, I didn’t know that. It’s been 10 years since you retired in 2008, if you can believe it! What role does Crescent play in your life today?

DS: Ten years into retirement, although some would suggest that it was in 1987 when I retired! But, Crescent still provides me with memories of students, parents, and staff. As a history aficionado, I still enjoy leafing through “old” yearbooks.

MS: What have you been up to since retirement?

DS: Reading, researching and cruising. The best cruise so far was 14 days from Rome to Rio de Janeiro. Another cruise, Hong Kong to Mumbai by way of Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar, was a close second. I’ve been all over the world, following the explorers I taught, their voyages.

MS: The more you see, the more you want to see.

DS: I was in Turkey once, in Ephesus. The guide said, “this is the exact location where the Apostle Paul, out of the Bible, was preaching when they came and arrested him.” I was standing right there. It makes the little hair I’ve got left stand up even thinking about it.

MS: It’s one thing to teach it from a textbook, it’s another thing to actually go and see it. Personally, travelling is one of my biggest passions. The amount of things to see out in the world is unbelievable!

DS: I remember a trip to Vimy Ridge. I was looking at the German front lines, and you literally could have taken a rock and fired the rock across there. That’s how close this was. And I was standing there, looking up and down the lines, and one of the guys said, “Mr. Smith, you’d be dead by now if the war was on.”

MS: What did you enjoy most about your time at Crescent?

DS: The staff room, the classroom and the unequivocal guidance and support from all the lead administrators, especially Pat Mills. In the staff room, I remember the collegiality and the fabulous minds.

MS: I know there’s a very strong community of retired Crescent teachers, like Steve Davies and Dave Budden and all you guys.

DS: And Ross MacDonald.

MS: Of course, and Ross MacDonald, among many others. There’s such a solidarity among Crescent students. But I think it speaks volumes that there’s such solidarity with the teachers as well. We had our 25th reunion last May and it’s shocking to me that it has been 25 years! Some of my best friends are Crescent guys.

DS: That is interesting because what we are really talking about is the fabric of the school.

MS: Now that I am a parent, I have begun to look at school systems in a different way. I’ve noticed that one of the strongest features about Crescent is the teachers. They set the foundation and justify why people want to send their kids to Crescent.

DS: It’s an incredible place and we are lucky to be part of it. One memory I’ll never forget is David Heaney, Mark Suckling and Angie Beck and the Grade 6 trips to Sudbury. In two years, Crescent boys planted over 2,000 trees in the “moonscape” on the outskirts of the city. I’d love to see it now. Crescent does make a difference!

MS: My prediction for this issue of Past & Present is that this interview with you will get the most eyes!

DS: Or darts. You could put it up on the wall and just fire at it.

Myles Slocombe ’92 is a member of the Past & Present Editorial Board. He says, “Smitty’s approach to teaching epitomized the true collegiality among the phenomenal teachers at Crescent. It was a pleasure and an honour to catch up with him.”