Early morning on the 3rd floor!
Welcome to Mr. Grady Smith's Webpage
Please click on any of the pages in the banner above to find out important information about my Koinonia or my 7th and 8th Grade classes. The Dig It and Draw It page is about the 2019 WOW Week and will be updated later this year. The 7th Grade Trip page describes the 2019 seventh grade to Virginia. The More page contains information about the last Inauguration trip and presentations I gave about current events and race. You are welcome to look at any and all pages.
This begins my fourteenth year teaching at Trinity and I have been teaching twenty-four years overall, primarily in Charlotte area. My wife and I live in the Elizabeth neighborhood and have two children, Clay and William. My son is a college student in Wilmington, NC and my daughter is a graphic designer in New York City.
Please give me a call or send me an email if you have any comments, questions or ideas. My mobile number is 704-651-6353 and is the best way to reach me. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictures and Thoughts
Harry S. beside the life size Thomas Jefferson statue at Monticello. This photo was taken during the 2019 Seventh Grade Trip. Two very presidential looking fellows!
Two iconic "parts" of TES in one picture. The ARCH at the front entrance of the school is an important gathering place for uptown field trips, class pictures, carpool, games, sidewalk chalk and entering the school. Its image has appeared on numerous t-shirts and school publications. All are welcome through the ARCH! Beyond the arch is the CARPOOL TREE in all its glory. It is a willow oak (I believe) and a constant source of shade and enjoyment throughout the seasons.
During Spring Break 2019, I visited my daughter in New York City and we went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I was honored to walk around and very humbled by the amazing stories of bravery and self-sacrifice. "Mychal's Prayer" is a wonderfully simple prayer exhibited at the museum. If you can't read it due to the picture size...
Take me where you want me to go
Let me meet who you want me to meet
Tell me what you want me to say
Keep me out of Your way.
If you have never heard of Father Mychal Judge, who died on September 11, 2001 at the WTC site, you should look him up.
Watching the construction of the new Fine Arts building from the Art room windows has been fascinating. A few times I took whatever class I had over so they could see some steel being erected or the concrete floors going being poured. Everyone was fascinated by the lone worker to the left who wore and controlled a remote control for the concrete boom. By the end of the school year the exterior walls had gone up and you could no longer see "through" the building.
A view of the new Fine Arts building from the front field (looks like late Fall or Winter 2018-19). The building occupies the lot where the Yellow House used to be. For days, we were all fascinated by the cranes and the steel construction and the workers that scurried to put everything in place.
Students were allowed to sign one of the steel beams going in the new Fine Arts building. I also have a picture of the beam attached in its place, but the picture is really too dark to see. The beam is over one of the middle windows facing the existing houses on 8th Street - basically looking northwest. Hopefully it will be there into the 22nd Century!
December 10, 2018 - The front field from room 312 - a winter wonderland. There is nothing better (or worse) than a nice snow when you are already at school!
Beauty and art and just simple neat things happen all the time at Trinity. I was cleaning up in the art room and noticed this masterpiece whirling its way down the drain.
I hope the new sinks and drains in the new Fine Arts building are better than than the two in Ms. Rankey's and Ms. O'Sullivan's room right now. Those two old sinks drain very sloooooowwwwwwly!
A few years ago one of my students, Davis G., gave me a collection of Pez Presidential candy dispensers. One day recently I noticed that the Thomas Jefferson Pez dispenser was incorrectly labelled as George Washington. No doubt it will be worth millions someday! Many thanks to Davis for the great gift!
Jen Rankey took this great photo of the Charlotte skyline during the 2017-18 school year. No "photoshopping" or editing has occurred to get the building to be that color - all natural. Thanks for sharing, Jen!
Wednesday, January 17, 2017 - Snow day at Trinity and the front field looks beautiful and peaceful.
2018 opened with one of the biggest changes to outdoor look of the school other than the outdoor basketball court. ARTIFICIAL TURF has finally been installed on the front field. The school is very blessed to have an anonymous donor pay for this amazing upgrade. Almost the whole project was done over Christmas break, so everyone returned to a wonderfully green front field. 2017 may the last time we see a "Field Closed" email from Mr. Jenkins. In this picture, the field is not totally complete and bags of sand (the infill product) are holding down the sections. The Yellow House issued a funny video over the break showing Cisco running through the school looking for some huge surprise (the new field) and he even rides in the elevator in the video.
Molly B., Trinity - Class of 2018, brought me these history postcards showing the huge bunker the U.S. government built at the Greenbrier Hotel during the Cold War. The bunker was a place for the U. S. government to relocate during a nuclear war. Molly went on an amazing tour and was nice enough to bring me back some souvenirs of her trip. She also learned about all the different Presidents who have visited the Greenbrier.
On the 2017 middle school retreat, I took this picture of the forest floor while the Smith Koinonia was on its mountain hike. I thought it turned out pretty well, if I do say so, and I promise that I did not arrange anything. I have always loved the mountain hike as a way to re-connect with older Koinonia members and to get to know the new 6th graders.
Every four years, the 8th graders help me run Kids Voting in room 312. The students decorate the room, create a online ballot, man the ballot boxes to help lower schoolers and have an all-around good democratic (small "d") time. Most lower school classes create their own registration cards and present them to the "poll" workers and everyone gets an "I Voted" sticker as they head out the door. I believe that Mrs York, a fourth grade teacher, took this great photo looking in on all the action.
Griffin, in a random drawing, got Franklin Pierce as her President and then had to complete one project and two short papers about him. She became the resident expert on all things relating to our 14th President. In the fall, Griffin took a trip up north and was able to stop by Pierce's final resting place. If there was ever a picture that deserved to be on a my website, it is this one! Thanks, Griffin.
A blast from the past! Gone are the days of phone booths and pay phones, collect calls and operators, party lines and children's phones, rotary dials and long twisted phone lines, Ma Bell and Southern Bell, etc. I spotted these two historical relics at the Circle K near my house and snapped a picture...WITH MY PHONE!
The 2016-17 school is about to begin and there have been lots of August thunderstorms. The rain has brought forth the mushrooms all around campus. I spied this grouping in the wooded area in front of the school and thought I would go for that National Geographic photo! The wooded natural area in front of the school includes lots of trees, a butterfly garden, a small pond and a rarely used outside classroom/amphitheater. At the end of school, the 8th graders gather in and around this area to present their Area of Expertise projects (AOEs).
Greet the Week on Mondays morning is still a wonderful community gathering for the whole school. Here is an updated 2015 picture of GTW with some fall foliage and Beth Williams leading everyone in song. We still have basically the same format for GTW. We begin with singing, then recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the TES honor Code. Usually there is a Joke of the Week followed by a call for general announcements. There are always some traditional announcements such as Word of the Week, What in the World geography questions, announcement of the temperature by 8th graders and their kindergartners buddies, sports team victories and Mrs. Rankey's chats with Cisco. We then have a Bible reading and a prayer followed by the singing of the Lord's Prayer and the Song of the Month. Lower school classes stand in the front with their teachers to the side, and middle schoolers stand in the rear with MS teachers traditionally standing in the way back near the doors to the dining hall. GTW is usually lead by a middle school Koinonia group. Again, it makes for a great start to the week!
Sam H., a TES graduate, sent me this picture of the R. G. Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Memorial on the Boston Common. He said he recognized it from the ending credits of the movie "Glory." As I have noted before, I have been sending students to this memorial since the 1990s and it has been recognized as one of America's finest public memorials.
I took this photo in Washington, D.C. during the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March. I really liked the fact that a member of the Nation of Islam was resting beneath a sign advertising the National Gallery exhibit dealing with the 54th Massachusetts Memorial in Boston.
One of the Smith Koinonia members, Ben P., posing in front of the 54th Massachusetts Memorial in Boston. I never get tired of this picture, obviously.
For the first time since I have been at Trinity, the gym floor is being totally re-finished. They have slowly been sanding down to the bare wood and the entire floor will be re-stained and re-painted. There will even be a new logo at center court. It is going to look great!
The benches at the front of the school are getting an overhaul. New composite planking is being placed over the existing benches. These are the benches that all the teachers sit on to watch recess and parents use while waiting to pick their children up in the afternoon.
Logan G., one of my 8th grade students, took this picture over Spring Break of a statue of President James K. Polk. He thought I might enjoy it as I am interested in the Presidents and make my 8th graders memorize them. I love President Polk's cool pose and the inscription at his feet - "He expanded our nation by two-thirds". Thanks Logan!
This year saw the National Geographic Big Map of South America come to TES. One of my 8th grade classes relaxes on the Big Map in the gym. Next year...Africa or North America!
As these three 8th grade girls can attest, U. S, History class is not always that interesting. Or maybe they had just finished their National History Bee qualifying test and were just worn out!
On a recent trip to Boston, MA, I was finally able to visit the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Memorial on Boston Commons. I have often shown the movie "Glory" in my American History classes and have sent many students to the Memorial over the years. To go myself was very special and the Memorial is truly amazing. I had heard that often Colonel Shaw will be holding a banquet of flowers. He was not on this day and I wish now I had had the foresight to bring some of my own. Next time!
The entire Memorial is inspirational, but the faces of the African-American soldiers marching behind and beside Colonel Shaw are masterful. Each one is different just as each soldier who fought for the regiment was different. Many came from the Boston area, of course, but others traveled long distances from other states to volunteer to fight for the Union and for the freedom of their enslaved brethren.
"Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship."
When I first started working at Trinity in the Fall of 2006, this was the school sign at our entrance off 9th Street. It has been replaced with a nice stone sign that mimics the design of the front arch of Trinity. I saw this sign at the back of the school against a wall and it brought back some nice memories.
Update 2019: This sign is now framed and hanging in the boardroom on the first floor.
This couch had originally been in my wife's office and it had a good life in room 312. I allowed my Koinonia members to write their names on the back and before too long, everyone was writing on it and drawing. I finally decided that it was looking too old and ratty and I threw it away during the summer of 2014. Gone but not forgotten!
Roland Jenkins saved this aerial photo of the school in the early years and I snapped a picture of it as it is a wonderful primary source. You can see the school trailers that occupied the current front field and playground area of the school. Where the current building is now is a brown soccer field and an asphalt basketball court. The school parking lot is about the same , although it has been enlarged. Linear Park looks like it is without any grass or landscaping.
The First Grade Parade is a springtime Trinity tradition. The first grade builds "floats" on wagons that represent the seven continents (and the solar system...seem here pulled by two green aliens!!). the parade winds through the parking lot and then around Linear Park. Middle schoolers traditionally line Linear Park and as the parade passing them they run to the opposite side of the park to cheer some more. It is a very fun and festive occasion with great "floats" and creative costumes.
Every Monday the entire school gathers in the courtyard for Greet The Week. We sing, have announcements and conduct a short chapel service. It is a great way to start the week. This is not the best picture, but it does convey how the crowd looks and how group participation is an important part of GTW. Although it looks like we are facing east into the rising sun, we are actually facing north west. Some parents also attend GTW and they are out-of-sight behind the tree in the top right.
After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the President ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in remembrance. As I was leaving school, I paused to snap a photo of Trinity's flag at half-mast with the moon in the background. Just as Columbine and Virginia Tech are tragic touch-stones in our nation's history, so will be Sandy Hook.
The BIG map of Asia visited TES for two weeks in December and was a BIG hit (at least, it was a big hit for me!). We decided to hang it up for Friday's chapel on the last week and it looked great cascading down from the track. As you can see, it was so big that part of it came out onto the floor. The hardest part about hanging was just trying to figure out which way to roll the map so that once it was tied down and flipped over the railing it would be right-side up. In full disclosure, I had to do it twice to get it right. I have ordered the BIG map of Europe for next year!
Our annual Blessing of the Pets ceremony got me thinking about Trinity pets that have always been around but may not ever get blessed. This is my seventh year teaching at Trinity and there has always been fish tank in the front lobby near the elevator. Morning, noon and night I have passed that tank and admired the colored tropical fish. I wonder if any of those fish have been there for six years? They seem fairly content and I truly do not know who feeds them or cleans their tank. I need to remind Father Jacob to stop by and give them a quick blessing if for no other reason than they brighten my day and are part of God's creation.
For the Blessing of the Pets at Trinity, students and their pets (and families) gather on the front field for a short chapel service. Then the school chaplains head to the corners of the field and the pets are blessed one by one. It is an amazing and chaotic sight to behold. There are dogs, cats, bunnies, mice, gerbils, lizards, turtles and fish as well as stuffed animals and pictures of pets who just couldn't make it that morning. I snapped this photo from the windows of my room which overlook the front field as well as the skyline of Charlotte.
Beauty and art and just simple neat things happen all the time at Trinity. Shelby C. called me over to see a pencil shaving and I just thought it made a neat picture. Come to think of it, the pencil is a pretty neat thing also.
Cisco is our school dog and he belongs to Ms. Rankey, the art teacher. He likes to come into my room and sit on the couch and dig through the trash.
Our first two school dogs belonged to Mrs. Tate, the school's Dean of Student Life. There was Tie, who died tragically after having a litter of puppies. We had a school wide memorial that was amazing. You can click HERE to see a video and song about dogs that was played at Tie's service. Next came Patience and she was just like her name. When Mrs. Tate retired in the Spring of 2012, Patience went with her.
But Cisco arrived in the Fall of 2012 and has slowly been getting the run of the entire school. He is still a puppy, but you can already tell he will be special. My family is lucky to have one of Cisco's sisters. Her name is Luna and maybe she will come to TES to visit one of these days.
The rain came so suddenly the other day that there was no time to lower the school's two flags. Mr. Jenkins saved them later when the weather cleared and draped them in the east stairwell to dry. I snapped this picture because those two flags represent something very special to me: the United States of America, with all its geographical majesty and wonderfully complicated history, and the Episcopal Church, whose religious and educational tenets guide Trinity Episcopal School.
The third floor has changed a little since I came to TES in 2006...but it is still home sweet home! Two offices have been added on each end of the Dickson Upper Commons. The sunlight still comes streaming through each and every morning.