Marty Smith

Marty SmithI grew up in rural Indiana as one of five children. During my teen years I worked at a Quaker camp in northern Indiana, where I became a convinced Friend. At Quaker Haven Camp I worked with a young man who later became my husband. Soon after we were married I decided to become a teacher. So, with the income and support of my new husband, I completed my undergraduate degree in education at University of Cincinnati. Then as my husband completed his MS at Michigan State and PhD at Notre Dame, I taught school. Attending Ohio State University part-time during my children’s pre-school years, I earned a M.S. in early and middle childhood education, while my husband taught college. Thereafter and for most of my working life I have either been a teacher, teacher educator, or religious educator.

We moved to New Jersey over 20 years ago to become teachers at Moorestown Friends School, where our children were also students. It is there that I met Larue Evans, a colleague of mine, who is also now part of the Quaker Parenting Initiative.

Before coming east my husband and I taught in East Africa with the Peace Corps, in Cincinnati, and in East Lansing. As we raised our children, we had to figure out what to do all on our own, because my husband’s and my parents lived quite far away from us. Nonetheless, our two children have now married and are parents making us grandparents of five. One family lives within five minutes of us and the other is just a half-hour away.

I first became involved with the Quaker Parenting Initiative, while I was Director of Religious Education for PYM. In my work with the Children 0-13 Committee I got to know Harriet Heath and Terry Waitz. In the mid 1990’s the Children 0-13 Committee held a PYM conference on “Raising Peaceful Children in a Violent World” and led parent discussion workshops throughout the YM on topics related to the Friends’ Testimonies. In the last five years in Moorestown Meeting and at Friends General Conference, I have led Quaker Parenting workshops, which were very rewarding for me and empowering for parents. I learned that parents have a deep spiritual hunger and a need to make their own decisions about how to raise their children with the support of their faith and in accordance with their values.

My path intersected again with Harriet Heath about six years ago, when a group of Quaker parents began writing Paths to Quaker Parenting. The process we recommend in that manual and use to facilitate parenting groups is one, which has worked for us and empowers parents to make decisions based on the values by which they are raising their children.