Ozarka College Foundation Schedules Annual Fulton County Golf Tournament

For many in the Mammoth Spring community, JoKay Smith was more than just an educator; she was a mentor and a trusted friend.

But it was education that allowed her the opportunity to have a lasting impact on those who knew her best. Barbara Olbricht, a retired family and consumer science teacher at Mammoth Spring High School, first met JoKay when she was in her first year of teaching at Couch High School. Olbricht was in her senior year, and would later work alongside JoKay in Mammoth Spring after completing college herself.

Peggy Rogers, a retired elementary school teacher, quickly became friends with JoKay after she moved to the area with her husband, Dale. They would spend 35 years together educating Mammoth Spring students and building their friendship.

“She loved her students,” Olbricht said. “She didn’t have children of her own, so her students were her kids. She had a strict classroom, but they could all succeed with her.”

Rogers remembered how much the kids thought of her even after they had graduated.

“She kept up with the kids after they left,” she said. “When they would come back [to visit], they’d want to see Mrs. Smith.”

They recalled years of traveling to basketball games, both at Mammoth Spring and away, and to other extracurricular events the students were involved in. She even kept the scorebook at the home basketball games, and they laughed as they talked about how nervous she would get when the games got close.

Farrell Nicholson, a librarian at Kosh School District and adjunct English instructor at Ozarka College, was one of JoKay’s students at Ozarka College. She was also a mentor to him as he began his own career in education.

“I don’t think I’ve had anyone encourage me as much as she did,” he said.

It was her recommendation that got him the job at Ozarka College, he believes. He recalled the division chair who hired him stating, “I am going to let you in on her word because that’s good enough for me.”

A devoted musician, JoKay also taught piano lessons to students after school, including Nicholson and his daughter, Anna, and Olbricht after she had retired from teaching.

“She loved music almost as much as she loved literature,” she said.

“The last thing she ever said to Anna was ‘good job’,” Nicholson remembered. “I always heard her encouraging students at Ozarka. She always had things going on with students even off campus. She was willing to help anyone who was willing to receive her help.”

JoKay grew up in an education family, following in the footsteps of her mother who was also a teacher. She was a life-long educator, teaching English at both the Couch and Thayer School Districts. After marrying her husband, Jerry, she began teaching at Mammoth Spring High School. After 42 years in education, she retired and accepted a teaching position at Ozarka College – Mammoth Spring.

She served on the Fulton County and Arkansas State Democratic Committees, the Mammoth Spring Fish Hatchery Board, the George D. Hay Foundation Board, and was an active member of the Ozarka College Foundation Board.

In April 2012, the Ozarka College Foundation Board announced the creation of the JoKay Smith Memorial Scholarship fund. Once the endowment goal of $10,000 is met, a scholarship will be awarded to a Fulton County student each year.

This summer’s annual Fulton County golf tournament, scheduled for Saturday, June 1, will raise money for the scholarship fund. The 4-person scramble is scheduled for an 8 a.m. shotgun start at the Cherokee Village South Golf Course. The cost to enter is $200 per 4-person team.

Liberty Bank and First National Banking Company will serve as the event’s major corporate sponsors.

The Ozarka College Foundation is an approved 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. Donations made to the Foundation and the golf tournament are tax-deductible as allowed by IRS regulations.

For more information about how to donate to the JoKay Smith Memorial Scholarship fund or the golf tournament, contact Suellen Davidson, director of advancement, at 870-368-2059 or by email at [email protected].

Ozarka College is a comprehensive technical/community college, with locations in Fulton, Izard, Sharp and Stone counties. The college offers 28 associate degrees, technical certificates and certificates of proficiency, as well as workforce training, continuing education and adult basic education.