After her teenage daughter injured her knee, Ronna Smith’s days as a soccer mom were finished, and she was on her way to becoming a stage mom.
Smith won the Community Support for Arts Education award for her work as a “stage mom” to students in the Lewis Palmer High School Theater Program
Those who work with her say she applies the same passion, enthusiasm and dedication to supporting young thespians as she did to young athletes when her children, who are now grown, played soccer.
“I’m kind of a rogue soccer mom,” Smith said. “My whole life was kind of around soccer, and now it’s around the theater program.”
Smith and Lewis Palmer theater director Karen Kennedy, a teacher at the high school, work about 40 hours a week on each play during production time, which can take months from preparation to performance.
Organizing a high school performance is no small undertaking these days. Fifteen years ago, productions had budgets of about $200, Kennedy said. Today the cost is about $10,000.
“She just came in one day and asked if she could volunteer,” Kennedy said. “So I handed her all the stuff I don’t like to do and she began doing more and more. Now she handles all the publicity for the shows, the ticket sales, volunteer dinners, cast parties and banquets. It’s a huge load off my mind.”
Smith does so much with the program that parents often think she’s the director rather than an assistant.
Sometimes when people meet me and I tell them I’m the director of the theater program, they ask, ‘oh, do you work for Ronna Smith?’” Kennedy said.
Smith said it was her children’s involvement in theater that attracted her to the program, but it has been her friendship with Kennedy and several students that convinced her to return year after year.
“Karen and I became friends, and it became a sort of bonus,” Smith said. “But I get so many more blessings from working with the kids.”
Smith said that there is no doubt that she’s right where she’s supposed to be, doing what she’s supposed to be doing.
“This will probably sound corny,” she said. “But every year I sit down and evaluate what I was supposed to be doing, and every year I get a handwritten note from God through a parent or one of the students saying you have no idea what an impact you’ve made.”