New FSHS Educators: Mike Durnell and Christie Smith

This is part of a series featuring the 26 new Fort Scott educators.
USD 234 students first day is August 18.
Mike Durnell. Submitted photo.
Mike Durnell, 54, is a new math teacher at Fort Scott High School.
His hometown is Moundville, MO.
He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in education from College of the Ozarks, a Master’s Degree in education from Missouri State University, and a Specialist’s Degree in Education from William Woods University.
He has taught for 31 years.
Durnell began teaching high school math in LaMonte, Missouri, then taught math in Billings, Missouri and Aurora, Missouri at the middle and high school levels, then junior high math in El Dorado Springs, for many years before serving as the Activities Director. Most recently, he have taught junior high math in Uniontown.
He is married to Suzan and has two grown daughters, Jenna and Tessa. “Suzan will be working in the elementary schools in Fort Scott this coming school year, my daughters are married, working, and making the world a better place,” he said.
Outside of the classroom he enjoys hunting and fishing.

Durnell was influenced to teach by his high school teacher and coach, Randy Robertson, he said.

Students are the best part of teaching for Durnell, although there are some challenges.

“In teaching, we are faced with students being more distracted than ever,” he said. “It is a challenge to keep things interesting for them.


Christie Smith with her family. Submitted photo.

Christie Lutter Smith, 48 is the Speech Language Pathologist for Eugene Ware Elementary, Fort Scott High, St. Mary’s Elementary, Christian Heights and Christian Learning Center all in Fort Scott.

“I am really looking forward to being a part of the Fort Scott School District,” she said.  “I am looking forward to the upcoming school year and can’t wait to work with the kids and their families.”

Smith earned a Bachelor’s in Communication Disorders (Speech Language Pathology), then a Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education, taught school, then earned a Master’s in Communication Disorders.

“I have been a speech therapist for over 20 years and have practiced in a variety of settings: schools, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities. I love them all and feel blessed to love what I do.”

She and husband Dallas have been married 25 years and have three girls: Meg, 22, is getting married this fall; Ellie,17 will be a senior and “can’t wait for basketball season, and Cate,10a, ttends Saint Mary’s and pretty much loves everyone,” she said.

In her spare time she loves to travel, read,  and has hobbbies of photography, music and art.

 Smith’s other involvements in the community: Catholic High School Youth Leader, past Mercy Hospital Foundation Board member, a nursing home volunteer, Parent Teacher Organization, past board member of Mother to Mother Ministry, Relay for Life, PEO, and Magazine Club.

“I started college as a pre-med student; however, after taking a few classes in speech pathology I fell in love. Probably because I love to talk! As my classes went along I also fell in love with the special education field and became actively involved in the Special Olympics. All these exposures and experiences have aided me throughout my career.”

“Some of the greatest challenges I have faced in my career and continue to face is finding the resources our families need in Southeast Kansas.  It may not be easy to find but there are amazing people and companies out there, a lot of them in our community.”


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