By Nicole Walters, Current Staff
Even though she retired from the West Bend School District in 2007, Sheryl Smith never stopped teaching at an award-worthy level.
Smith, who taught German for 40 years, and at East High School for 27 years, was honored in September with a commemorative stone recognizing her inspiring volunteer work through the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The stone is engraved with Smith’s name and is placed in the Labyrinth Garden inside Regner Park.
Smith has been volunteering for about 15 years for NAMI, and has made a large impact on the lives around her.
“I have over time taught many classes for family members of those who have some kind of mental illness,” Smith said. “Helping people understand various mental illnesses, the diagnosis, what to expect and how to communicate better.”
After a personal family experience with mental illness, Smith took a similar class in Ozaukee County. She found it extremely important to find out the causes of the problem, how to fix it and how to prevent it. Then Smith wanted to bring access to mental illness help to Washington County, and has successfully helped spread awareness in her local community.
Smith also played a role in the creation of the program Ending the Silence, which for seven years has been taking place in many middle schools and high schools.
“I was really quite surprised when they said they wanted to honor me or recognize me because I was not expecting anything like that,” Smith said.
(Photo courtesy of Sheryl Smith.)