Literacy is a key focus of the Redwood Falls Rotary Club, with its annual donations of funds for books, and free dictionaries to local elementary students; with that in mind, Teri Smith was chosen to receive the club’s Service Above Self award for translating her lifelong love of reading into a variety of ways to encourage others to read as well.
Every year, the Redwood Falls Rotary Club chooses a local citizen who it believes best represents the principle of going above and beyond. Literacy is a key focus of the area Rotary Club, with donations of funds for books, and free dictionaries to local elementary students. With that in mind, Teri Smith was chosen to receive the club’s Service Above Self award for translating her lifelong love of reading into a variety of ways to encourage others to read as well. As the Rotary program began on June 23, Teri was introduced thus: “Teri Smith has been a lifelong resident of Redwood Falls. She and her husband, Mike, both graduated from Redwood Falls High School and they raised their three children in this community. “Teri worked for many years in the Redwood Valley school system. She worked at Reede Gray both as a teacher and as the Early Childhood Coordinator. “Teri always went above and beyond in what she was doing for the children, the school and her community. “She was not just a child advocate she was a family advocate. She went out of her ways to connect with families: If she was walking down the street and saw someone she didn’t know pushing a stroller she would introduce herself and ask if they knew about Early Childhood Education. As Early Childhood Coordinator she took on the role of leading the Early Childhood Initiative. The Southwest Initiative Foundation funded numerous Early Childhood Initiatives throughout the state. “Many of them faltered, stuttered or dissolved because they didn’t have effective leadership. “The Redwood Area Chapter thrived, and continues to thrive, under Teri’s leadership. In fact the Southwest Initiative referred to Teri as ‘The Golden Girl’. They told other initiatives: if you want to know how to have a successful coalition check in to see how Teri Smith does it. “During one of our coalition meetings Teri talked about a Blue Cross Blue Shield Community Grant. It was discussed but since was this was a rather complicated 3-year grant due within a few months the group pretty much dismissed it. “Soon after, however, Teri was working with a group to come up with a plan for using these funds. She wrote the grant and it was approved for consideration; only one of seven chosen from over 70 applicants. “The now named Apple Gourd Project has been established to address the needs of low income families with young children to help them understand the value of eating healthy and finding ways to access healthy foods and getting active. “This grant created a community garden and a natural play area on a piece of land north of the Redwood Valley School campus and is working to expand the garden and natural play area concepts to the other communities in the Redwood Area School District, including the Lower Sioux community, Morton and Belview. “Literacy is a key focus of Rotary so it should be noted that Teri was also the impetus in getting Imagination Library in our area. Hundreds of pre-school children now have greater access to books because of Teri’s vision. “Never one to rest on her laurels Teri went back to school and got her Master’s Degree. This spring she made a career change and is now the Head Librarian at the Redwood Falls Library. “While her location and job titles have changed her focus has not. Teri continues to share energy and passion for learning with families.”