For every student at Buena, we have always seen Richard Smith– the proud teacher for the science department of Buena- ready to teach us everything we need to know for the following years of our journey of high school. Students like Hope Stewart, Junior and former student of his, describe him as “supportive” and “iconic”. After working 40 happy years as a devoted teacher, Smith has decided to retire. “I have made some good friendships among the faculty which I will miss,” Smith said, “along with watching students grow into their potential and achieve amazing results.”
Smith started his career as a Balboa and Cabrillo Middle School teacher. In Balboa, he was only working there temporarily before working for 10 years at Cabrillo. He taught seventh grade Earth and Life science, eighth grade Physical science, and some math before moving to Buena in 1997- where he has remained ever since. “I was looking for an intellectual challenge and Buena had just opened a science position.” Smith said. Throughout his years at Buena, Smith has taught everything from Advanced Placement science courses to college prep biology and chemistry. Smith believes that “[my] personal relationship with Christ has helped me become who I am and given me energy and strength to do all that I have done over these years.”
Some of Smith’s greatest achievements at Buena are the creations of the Technical Analysis class, AP Biology, and AP Chemistry along with clubs like Science league, Environmental science, STEM, Astronomy, and the Travel club (Some of these clubs are no longer active, however). “Each of these opened new ways for students to succeed and grow.” Smith said. Stewart, who has taken one of Smith’s college prep biology classes, said that “He wanted to show science in the works and how science is involved with everything”. Some of Smith’s fondest memories while teaching at Buena was watching his chemistry and biology students “share a growing enthusiasm for chemistry or biology” and it was “always encouraging [to see].” Not to mention his trips to China and Europe with students and the amazing work he has seen his AP classes and Technical Analysis.
After so many years teaching, he was looking forward to filling his time with new adventures. “Even with COVID-19, I am looking forward to fall in New England to see the leaves change, visit historical sites, and see family.” Smith said. Smith has also stated that he will also further his hobbies of biking, running, gardening. He also plans to continue his study of new languages, music, and drawing and delayed projects.
However, Smith said that he will miss “having students use my room as a hang-out before school, at break, and at lunch.” and that seeing kids “embracing life and having fun. It was fun seeing that energy.” Teaching at Buena also taught him many things about being a teacher. “lesson planning, demos, or curriculum were of secondary importance to helping students grow into the people God intends for them to be,” Smith said, “Other times, it was important just to be there for a student.”
Smith hopes, as he says goodbye to Buena, that the Buena community “Don’t take initial rejection (or lack of enthusiasm) as a final answer but rather find a way to push through.” and “The community needs you (and you need the community).” He also hopes that Buena students will remain optimistic amidst the changing world. “The world, the country,…[and] Ventura, needs you. It needs your ideas and what you can accomplish” Smith said, “Time doesn’t come again and life will just get more challenging. Embrace it to become as strong as you can.”