HOPE – A former teacher and coach in the Hope Public Schools has been honored by the University of Minnesota as a 2019-2020 Distinguished Alumnus.
Dr. Roscoe Smith, of Dallas, Texas, retired in 1998 as acting superintendent of the Benton Harbor, Michigan, public schools after a 40-year career in public education which began after his graduation from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, in 1958.
Dr. Smith, who received his doctorate in educational administration from UM in 1972, was among the honorees recognized by the UM College of Education and Human Development.
“Smith had a 40-year career as a classroom teacher, youth leader, and administrator focused on supporting students and encouraging family involvement,” the UM announcement stated.
Smith was the first African American male to be promoted from teaching into administration in the Dallas Independent School District, where he designed and implemented the district’s first Central Parent Advisory Council, considered a national model, and the basis for his founding the Texas Parent Coordinating Council, according to the announcement.
Smith began teaching at Henry C. Yerger High School in Hope, where he was also a football coach for the Yerger Tigers during their dominance in Black high school football in Arkansas.
Smith recalled how the greater Hope community responded to the YHS success by noting Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty II provided his team with books about football and suggested plays. McLarty was a state standout for the Hope High School Bobcats.
“It was like he was rooting for us; and, we rooted for the Bobcats,” Smith quipped.
The Dallas Post Tribune named Smith its Leader of the Week in April, 2014, noting his work with the Boy Scouts of America to produce the largest Scout troop in the world in Dallas Troop No. 165, and turning the BSA Comanche District into the nation’s leading Scouting district.
“His innovative, visionary programs – heavy with parental/community involvement – were hallmarks of his leadership,” the newspaper noted.
Smith has been instrumental in providing community support for the Early Learning Initiative of the Hope Public Schools through his work with the early literacy program at Rising Star Baptist Church in Hope, where he has donated hundreds of books for community use.
“We try to do all we can to help out in the community,” Smith said.
Smith has also served as district office director for U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, was the first African-American “Outstanding Young Educator” of the Classroom Teachers of Dallas and Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce; was inducted into the Benton Harbor Schools Hall of Fame for his turnaround of academics in that district; and was inducted into the African American Education Archive and History Program Hall of Fame in 2011.
Smith is a life member of the NAACP and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and recipient of the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor accorded service in the Boy Scouts of America.
Smith and his wife, Dr. Velma Price Smith, have been married more than 50 years and have two daughters, four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.