Dr. Bettie Smith
Dr. Bettie Smith
School: Stephens High School
Many stories have been shared about the stellar athletic history of Stephens High School. One of the main reasons these stories exist today is due in large part to the school’s leader, Dr. Bettie Smith. Smith was the school’s principal from 1952-1966 and served as the school’s basketball coach for the girl’s team during this same period. Her leadership was recognized nationwide for the success of this school.
Smith’s coaching career was outstanding. During her 13 seasons as a coach, she would win the state championship 5 times. In the 1958-59 season, Coach Smith’s team would go undefeated in all 23 regular season games on their way to a state championship. Many great athletes played for her during her 13 seasons, including Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Maude Chattam.
Other Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame Inductees that attended Stephens High School during her era were Zeke McDaniel and Pete Garigan. Joining Smith tonight as a 2019 Inductee is LJ McDaniel. The school would claim 11 state championships over a 13-year span.
Smith’s academic career truly defined what kind of special person she was in Gordon County. Smith earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 1947 from Tennessee A&I. In 1951, she obtained a Master’s Degree from NYU. She would later earn her Doctorate’s Degree in 1962 and was the only educator to have this distinction during that time.
Her achievements did not just limit her to just Gordon County. In 1952, Smith would serve on the Committee of the World Health Organization in Helsinki, Finland. In 1955, she served as a member of the White House Conference on Education during the Dwight Eisenhower Administration. In 1963, she was named to the Who’s Who of American Women. In 1971, she would testify in Washington before the Senate Select Committee on Equal Educational Opportunity and the effects of desegregation on public school black administrators.
Smith passed away in 1977 and was married to the late David Lamar Smith.