English and drama teacher Denise Smith to retire

English and Drama teacher Denise Smith will be retiring after working for 15 years at San Marin. Smith always wanted to be a teacher, but first found herself in nursing after moving to California.
“When I first moved to California I got this job working as a physical therapy aide and decided to go into nursing, but it was one of those things you fell into and I was happy with that.”
Smith returned to school to get her bachelor’s and decided to get a teaching degree.
“I just thought I really always wanted to be a teacher. If you always wanted to do it, just do it. Then my biggest quandary was English or History, and I love books so [English] won.”
Smith cites her freshman English teacher as someone who really inspired her.
“I remember we were doing Romeo and Juliet and a whole bunch of us, not really thinking about it, said, ‘Well, this is really hard to read, but we really like the story.’ So, thinking we were being a bunch of little smartypants, we asked, ‘Can we just rewrite it in modern English?’ What teacher wouldn’t want you to do that? So we did, of course. You know, this was 1968, so Romeo and Juliet were a bunch of hippies and instead of battling stuff, they were battling society by protesting the war and protesting whatever else they could find. So we rewrote Romeo and Juliet as a project.”
In the fall, Smith and her husband plan to buy a house in northern Italy, near Milan, and live there part-time. When her husband retires, they plan to move there full time.
“I’m very excited about that,” Smith said. “I love Italy, I love everything about it.”
Spanish teacher Reyna Lowrie first met Smith when Smith began teaching at San Marin. Lowrie said she first noticed Smith’s high heels and strong Boston accent. The two colleagues bonded and Lowrie described Smith as taking her under her wing after the death of Barbara Allen, their close friend.
Lowrie said Smith was “the most generous, loving human being.”
“She would buy senior yearbooks for students who couldn’t afford them,” Lowrie said.
About Smith’s retirement, Lowrie said she would be greatly missed but that she was excited for Smith.
When asked about what she would miss about teaching and San Marin, Smith said, “I can honestly say it will only be the kids. I like kids. I think that’s the part I’m going to miss, the interaction with the kids and some of the fun things we’ve done over the years, some of the fun projects and even with drama doing that, that was so exciting for me.”