Goodbye Mr. Smith | Opinion | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

Goodbye Mr. Smith

You were my guardian angel in high school. Your legacy will always live on.

click to enlarge Goodbye Mr. Smith
Citadel High School principal, basketball coach and beloved community advocate Wade Smith died last week after a battle with stomach cancer. Kyla Derry, front desk enforcer at The Coast and Smith’s former student, wrote this piece in memoriam.

In my high school years, there was always that one teacher I could count on, and that was Mr. (Wade) Smith.

From keeping me on track to just giving me your ear when I needed to talk—but more importantly needed someone to listen—you were always there. You gave me guidance and support as a young teenage mom trying to accomplish my goals and graduate.

I always held a high level of respect for you, but the day you made me bring my baby to school so I could write my African Heritage Literature exam for your class—and you watched her so I could—on that day, my respect for you went above and beyond. What other teacher would do what you did for a student trying to accomplish their goals?

How ironic is it that the same baby you watched while I was writing my exam is the young lady you got to see blossom into a talented teenager that you also had the pleasure of gracing with your guidance and support? I will forever be grateful.

The hallways of St. Patrick’s were always graced with your style, presence, class and your want for every kid to succeed no matter who they were or where they came from. You treated everyone with the same level of respect you wanted in return.

There were days when some of us would try to skip class and sit on the Windsor Street steps until you came out with a list of the classes we were supposed to be headed to. We couldn’t even say, “Well, Mr. Smith, I was about to go get something to eat” because you were making us walk to the cafeteria with you to buy us something to take to class.

Even after graduating, making life-changing mistakes, you still never looked at me any different and always gave guidance and support whenever you saw me. Your phrase, to this day, is still stuck in my head: “There is never a mistake too great to bounce back from.”

You made a huge imprint on many lives and also paved the way for many up-and-coming Black men who had the privilege of knowing you. To say you’re my definition of a legend is an understatement. There really are no words big enough to describe your character. You were like my walking guardian angel in high school.

One of the last conversations we had happened to be regarding my daughter and basketball. I remember laughing because she was just picking up ball and was behind her other teammates. You looked at me and said, “Skill can be taught, but her aggressiveness and passion cannot allow her to develop at her own pace.” Fast-forward almost three years later; you were right. She is blooming into an incredible player.

Our community has lost a powerful leader, man, mentor, friend, colleague, father, husband, principal and talented athlete. But his legacy will forever live on.

To everyone affected by this profound loss, let us do what he would want us to do and be the change we want to see, as he was. It’s sad that we have to say goodbye to a beautiful soul, but you will forever be etched in my heart.

To his family, you have my deepest condolences. My heart and prayers go out to you in these trying times. #EachOneTeachOne #WadeStrong


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