Mrs Smiley

Posted: Nov 14, 2023 / 08:00 PM CST

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) — A part-time Hutchinson substitute teacher has spent decades working in the classroom. Her name is Ellen Smiley.

She’s better known as Mrs. Smiley in the halls of Hutchinson Public Schools.

“My first subbing job was a kindergarten class,” said Mrs. Smiley.

Since the late 90’s, Mrs. Smiley has taught in nearly every Hutchinson Public School and for all classes.

“Kindergarten clear up to high school, and they are doing so great, and then you’re just so excited,” said Mrs. Smiley.

As the kids grow up, Mrs. Smiley sees new faces and even some former students.

“She was always smiley, and she would always say, ‘Yeah, the name literally matches the person,'” said Hutchinson Middle School 7 Library Media Specialist Elizabeth Henderson.

Henderson had Mrs. Smiley as a sub in high school. They’re now colleagues when Mrs. Smiley subs as HMS 7.

“Kind of makes me think, Wow, I’m growing up,’ but honestly, seeing her still subbing and being in the district is absolutely amazing,” said Henderson. She added, “If there is anybody in this building like she knows, she has such wise stories to tell.”

Those stories help Mrs. Smiley connect with each class.

“I tell them stories all the time ’cause it’s always going through my head,” said Mrs. Smiley.

“I loved them when I was a student, but now her stories, oh, it makes sense as an adult the things that she said,” said Henderson.

Her journey of subbing has lasted 25 years.

“It’s fulfilling you don’t mind getting up in the morning and coming to work,” said Mrs. Smiley. She added, “These kids come in, and they say, ‘Oh, Mrs. Smiley, you are our favorite sub.’ Now, I don’t take that as there are probably other subs that are their favorites, but it is really nice to be called their favorite sub.”

She isn’t letting her age stop her from teaching.

“I share it with the kids all the time cause sometimes they use it as a math thing. I tell them, ‘I was born in 1946, so how old am I?'” Mrs. Smiley said.

It’s been a life full of lessons, giving her and others many reasons to smile.

“I’m always a supporter of all of my kids. I try to be a supporter and listen to kids when they come in. I get a feel when they are having a down day,” said Mrs. Smiley.

Mrs. Smiley said she will teach through next year and then will reevaluate how she feels.

Photo Credit: Samantha Boring, KSN News