Wellsville's Smith hopes to 'impact' elementary students

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

A Wellsville High School senior was a crossroads on a possible career.

Ian Smith always wanted to be a veterinarian since he was a young child. He discovered the level of education for a vet would not allow him to work with his other love — horses.

“My sophomore year I wanted to do more horse training,” Smith said. “Veterinarian work did not fit in there. I had to give up one thing for another.”

Wellsville High School senior Ian Smith, sitting next to his mother, Bernie, signed to join the Kansas Wesleyan track and field program.

Smith, who comes from a family of educators, became a peer helper at the elementary school. All of a sudden a new career emerged — an elementary school teacher.

“I got into peer helping with with kids that needed extra help,” Smith said. “I found that I liked it. I went to the elementary and found out I really liked it over there.”

Smith said teaching was something that came naturally.

“I did not have to work hard for it,” he said. “All I had to do was stand up in front of elementary kids and tell them how to add 2 plus 2.”

But his parents were not sure he should pursue a teaching career.

“My parents did not want me to be a teacher,” Smith said. “My parents were teachers. It is something I really want to do. I think I can be good at it.”

Smith wants to teach at the elementary level.

“When I was in elementary, I always wanted to have a male teacher in the lower grades,” he said. “I notice when I was over there helping, the little boys would hang around me. They would ask me questions about stuff. It made them feel better. I can really make an impact [there].

Smith began working with the middle school track team coaching the hurdlers this spring, which solidified his career choice.

“I have definitely seen the middle schoolers blossom and do well in the beginning of the year,” Smith said. “I tell them ‘don’t think about it, run at it and we will go from there.’ When you talk about how to do the form, there is a lot of things to think about. Then they get in their head and everything does not look good and they will get discouraged pretty fast.”

Smith, who is a three-sport athlete for the Eagles, also eyed an athletic scholarship to help defray the costs of college. Kansas Wesleyan emerged as the winner as he will join the track team and be an education major. He recently signed with Coyotes.

“It is a first big step in my career as a teacher,” Smith said.

Wellsville Athletic Director and Assistant Principal Brad Burkdoll said Smith made the right career choice.

“There is always a special place in my heart for education majors,” Burkdoll said. “I know what kind of teammate and leader he is. He will be a heck of a teacher.”

Tim Savage, who has coached Smith in cross country and track, said he has the right temperment for an educator and coach.

“He will be a a great teacher and coach,” Savage said. “He has been working with the younger kids.”

Kansas Wesleyan became interested in his track exploits, especially in the javelin.

“I told them cross country is not my passion, but track is,” Smith said.

Smith has goals to accomplish in his senior track season before becoming a Coyote.

“My biggest goal is to beat my brother’s javelin [school] record, which is 175-2,” he said. “I want to make it back to state in three events, that way I can show Kansas Wesleyan that I stand up to pressure.”

His brother Trajen is a senior javelin thrower for Tabor College.