Athletic director ready for timeout

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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Mike Smith, Adolfo Camarillo High School’s athletic director, will retire after more than 30 years in education. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers

Come August, educator and athletic director Mike Smith won’t be preparing a classroom for the start of school year, and he won’t be involved in the organization and management of the high school’s sports teams.Smith says his plans for retirement are to take life much more slowly.

The 60-year-old Camarillo resident has worked at Adolfo Camarillo High School for 34 years as an English teacher, coach and athletic director.

Smith hopes to find a new venture that involves interacting with people. He also plans to return to the school in the fall as the boys’ cross country coach.

Reflecting on his career, Smith said he’d do it all over again.

“I would not trade the teaching experience I’ve had for anything,” Smith said. “Teaching is one of the most noble things a person can do. It’s very rewarding, and it has been more fun than I could ever have imagined.”

Smith attributes his longevity in teaching to having a sense of humor and a dedication to helping teens learn about the subject he teaches and about life.

“There are really special times in a classroom when an entire class is connected, thinking, laughing and learning together. It is one of the greatest times. I will miss that,” Smith said.

In addition to being an English teacher, Smith has coached varsity baseball, girls’ varsity basketball, boys’ cross country and boys’ track.

Celebrated as a teacher and coach, Smith was honored as the Camarillo High School Teacher of the Year in 1981, CIF cross country Coach of the Year in 1999, City of Camarillo Edu- cator of the Year in 2003 and CIF-Southern Section Athletic Administrator of Character in 2005. Additionally, Smith has been named Marmonte and Pacific View Coach of the Year 15 times during his three decades as an educator.

Mary Perez will replace Smith as athletic director. Perez is the girls’ cross country and track coach and has been an ACHS assistant athletic director for 10 years.

“I cannot think of a better person to be our athletic director than Mary Perez,” Smith said. “She is kind, thoughtful, easy to talk to and just will be an outstanding athletic director. I wish her all the best. I know she will do a fantastic job.”

For more than a decade, Perez and Smith have worked as a team.

Perez said Smith has been a mentor to her.

“He has taught me so much about how to run an athletic program and how to work with people in general,” Perez said. “He is a high-quality person with high standards.”

In the years he’s been teaching, Smith has noticed changes in the school environment.

“There has been an evolution in education that includes athletics,” Smith said. “Parents are becoming more involved in what is happening with their children at school. Much of it is positive. There are, however, a lot of complaints to deal with. There are more and more expectations and duties assigned to us from higher levels in education.”

How does Smith encapsulate his more than 30 years in the classroom and on the field?

“It has been extremely enjoyable interacting with kids I’ve taught in the classroom, the kids I’ve coached and the colleagues I’ve been able to work with all these many years.”

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