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Miss Jane Smoot: An Educator's Legacy


Jane at 103: Reflections on Miss Smoot's Birthday

Jane at 103: Reflections on Miss Smoot's Birthday

(Left to right) Young Jane feeding the chickens at Flower Hill; Miss Smoot teaching a class at Travis High School, Images Courtesy of the Flower Hill Foundation

"All Austinites" is the newest campaign by the Flower Hill Foundation to highlight the history of the historic Flower Hill site and its connection to all Austinites.

In the spirit of gift-giving and the public service legacy of the Smoots, through December the Flower Hill Foundation will provide snapshots of the historic site and legacies of this special place. Reaching all Austinites with the story of public service, and more broadly, the message of public engagement and civic action is one that the Flower Hill Foundation brings to Austin. We acknowledge your support as critical in helping us connect Austinites across the city in understanding their history and their place in it. We appreciate your support. 

It Started with Education

Miss Jane Smoot, an English teacher in Austin for over 40 years, started her journey in education long before her teaching career. She first began schooling at the young age of four when she was enrolled in the kindergarten program in Sutton Hall at the University of Texas. Retelling the experience she remembers she "[w]as a sort of guinea pig. This was a new concept for Austin and my mother was very interested to find out what this kindergarten business was like." 

Jane graduated high school at the age of 15 and went on to attend the University of Texas. She earned both her undergraduate degree and her master's degree and began teaching immediately after her courses. Jane taught at different schools in Austin ISD, including both Austin and Travis High Schools when in 1945, she returned to the University of Texas as an instructor. She taught English to returning GIs from the war effort until 1948, remembering it as "a special joy" and "a tremendously happy experience." 

(Left to right) Jane Smoot poses with a snowball at Flower Hill; Miss Smoot in her classroom, Images Courtesy of the Flower Hill Foundation

As a teacher, her dedication to enriching the lives of her students was clear. One experience she recalled included a unique approach to teaching Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to one of her 9th-grade classes. She read and summarized the whole play bit by bit so that her students would understand it in a way that was familiar to them. She recounted she "had a different view of Julius Caesar from any [she] had ever had before." She later reflected, "The teacher always learns more than the students."

Miss Smoot's openness to lifelong learning through her over 40-year education career teaching countless Austin students, embodies the work Flower Hill seeks to do as it reimagines the house and grounds where she lived. As we reflect on Miss Smoot on what would have been her 103rd birthday, we value your gift in helping bring long-term stability to Flower Hill for future learners.


Daniel Ronan 

Executive Director

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