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Home grown teachers -- He keeps his cool in first year as MHS teacher

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Going through some student papers is Richard Smock, Social Studies and American history teacher at McCook Senior High.
(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Richard Smock is back in school, and this time he's not sweating. Well, maybe a little, but in a different way.

When he graduated from McCook High School in 2004, parts of the high school did not have air conditioning and Smock remembers the stifling heat in his history class.

Now, eight years later, he's back in the same classroom, same school, but this time with the newly-installed air conditioning keeping him calm and collected as a first-year teacher of Social Studies and American History.

As a teacher, he follows in the same steps as his late father, Carl, who taught seventh grade Life Sciences.

"I remember my dad telling great stories of kids learning and he seemed to enjoy it so much. I figured, I'll give it a shot."

Smock said he's glad to be teaching in McCook, because of the tight-knit community he knew while growing up.

"So many people helped me when I was a kid, like the volunteers in the Boy Scouts, the teachers who put in the extra time to help me get scholarships, so it's nice I can return that to the community."

He graduated from Chadron State College in 2010 and student taught in Chadron High School.

Besides teaching, Smock is also helping to coach the high school football team.

"It's kinda a cool feeling, being on the other side, as a coach, not a player," he confessed.

Teaching history to high school students could be a challenge, but Smock said he is up for it.

"I love it, I get up each day and think, I get to go to my classes, get to know the kids. "Enthusiasm is a must, he said. "You have to have it, for these guys to buy into it. They are already asking hard questions."

And, he's in it for the long haul.

"I'll be a teacher until I retire," he said.

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