Long Time Employee Retires

posted 4/29/22 -- Nancy Ann Smith has been proud to be an LCCAA success story for decades.

The long time employee has worked for the agency in several capacities and retired last Friday.

In her tenure with the agency she worked on Head Start buses, in Head Start classrooms, ran a GED program, greeted energy services customers at the front desk and facilitated Getting Ahead classes.

Nancy’s relationship with the agency began in 1993 when the youngest two of her six children enrolled in the Head Start program.

“I was encouraged by the teachers and director who saw potential in me,” she said. “I signed up for parent volunteer training and was invited to be a bus aide which also led to being a substitute teacher.”

Discovering she enjoyed teaching, she left the agency to get her degree. She admires current staff who teach while attending college and raising their families, because she found college plus children challenging enough without working. Earning her bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University, she returned to Head Start as a teacher in 1999.

“I loved those boys and girls and their families and had a lot of fun with books and centers and one on one moments,” she said, adding that classroom discipline was her weak spot. “For example, I looked on in awe when a child figured out a way to climb the coat rack area, instead of stopping him before he engaged in that new adventure.”

In the spring of 2003, Nancy transferred her teaching skills to the agency’s now defunct GED program. She managed that until funding was tightened in 2010 but continued to volunteer in the area as a GED coach.

In 2017, she took a position in Energy Services.

“I started at the front desk as all of their advocates did at that time, and I was so reassuring and encouraging to the clients that I was kept there,” she said.

Nancy was known for her kindness and hospitality at the front desk when dealing with frustrated clients, diffusing situations and putting people at ease.

“Clients are sometimes stressed when they come into the office,” said Energy Services Coordinator Darnella Higginbotham when Nancy was the subject of a staff spotlight in 2018. “They need someone who is going to talk to them softly, gently, open minded and Nancy is one of those that takes her time.”

At the end of 2018, Nancy transferred again, this time to work on Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) programs including Getting Ahead. She taught classes in person and, during the COVID-19 pandemic, online working closely in particular with a group of homeless clients through the Haven Center.

Nancy has also been a key employee at the agency in the implementation and management of the Star Service program. The program encourages internal referrals among LCCAA programs to minimize the burden on clients and help them more broadly and deeply.

“LCCAA has been a lovely, nurturing place for me to commit a significant bit of energy and time to,” she said. “I have been challenged in the best ways, supported with career opportunities and enjoyed true friendships across my years here.”