Who: Denise Smeltzer, program director at Pittsboro Elementary
When: 18 years (16 years as program director)
Favorite color: Blue, because it’s a calming color
Favorite season: Spring, because it’s new every year
Favorite ice cream: Kroger brand Death by Chocolate
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of working with AYS?
A: Seeing the kids grow and change; seeing kids come back from the past who want to work with us.
Q: You have been with AYS for quite some time–how have you seen yourself grow over the years?
A: Through AYS I have been able to get my IYD. I am currently working on my CYC. Our program has grown a lot since it first started, and it’s nice to be a part of that community and help families in the larger community.
Q: What is the most memorable story during your time at AYS?
A: There is one boy, he first came to us in October of his first grade year. He’s in 7th grade now and has autism. When we first got him, he was nonverbal. He would get angry and either run away or spit at people. When Beryl was still working for AYS, I called her one day and I said, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” … She came out to the program, and all of the kids were outside on the playground. We were trying to go inside … he didn’t want to. So, he got angry. Beryl went over to talk to him… He spit in her face. Then, he ran over behind me. She came over and was smiling. And I go, “He just spit in your face and you’re smiling?” And she said, “But where did he go? He ran behind you because he knew he was safe.”
Just working with him for many years, he is now very verbal. He participates in many activities… It’s going to be hard. After this school year, he won’t be able to come back anymore [because he will be too old fo AYS].