Abbe Smith's professional path was mapped out from a very early age.
The first hint that Smith, now the Executive Director of Communications for the Cherry Creek School District, would land a job in the realm of writing, publication and messaging came long before she enrolled in any English class.
"Immediately after I was born, the nurse said, 'Abbe Geddes Smith, that name sounds like the name of a writer," Smith recalled.
That prediction proved prescient, as Smith went on to follow a career rooted in writing and, more fundamentally, communications. An inspiring teacher in her AP English class in a Pittsburgh high school helped to foster an early love for reading, writing and literature, and a professional path followed that included posts as a reporter, a communications specialist for state senators and education organizations and, ultimately, as the official spokesperson for the Cherry Creek School District.
Smith received her bachelor's in English from the University of Dayton in Ohio and went on to earn her master's degree in journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder, and the résumé that followed included a wide array of positions in print journalism, from a post as an obituary clerk at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to stints at the New Haven Register in Connecticut and the Sonora Union Democrat in California covering beats ranging from education to crime and courts.
That experience eventually translated into communications posts for the state senate in Connecticut and for New Haven Public Schools. The latter position offered Smith an immersive role in public education, and offered an investment in an organization that was dedicated to providing top-notch education to a diverse community.
"I loved being able to play a role in how we engaged that community," Smith said. "I was able to use my writing and communication skills, and I loved being on the front lines of the work the district did in community," she said, adding that she was often in attendance at kindergarten canvases and other events held outside the boundaries of the regular school day.
That position provided a foundation for the position as the lead communications specialist for Cherry Creek Schools, a job that opened up in 2017. Smith, who'd met her husband when attending CU in Boulder, said the opportunity to return to Colorado to raise her young daughter and the chance to work for CCSD was "an opportunity I couldn't pass up."
Specifically, the post offered a chance to return to a state she loved and engage in meaningful work at a district with a reputation for excellence. What's more, the position posed exciting challenges in the form of modernizing the messaging and communications of a district that was already engaged in meaningful and exciting work.
"This office is set up as a newsroom, essentially, and it allows us to tell our own story and tell the story of the schools, the students, the teachers, the parents and the people in our district," Smith said. "It was exciting to come in to the strong system that was already in place, and also think about ways we can move forward. We're in a changing world, between evolving technology, social media and changing demographics, it's necessary to think of new ways to reach all of our community members."
Creating a brand new website, updated social media presence and mobile applications for the entire CCSD community has been part of that work, as has working closely with Superintendent Scott Siegfried and the rest of district cabinet to effectively spread an array of important messages. Whether it's been spreading the word about the district's ever-evolving focus on innovation and 21st-century skills, or imparting information regarding Cherry Creek Schools' continuing dedication to equity work, Smith has sought new and more effective ways to communicate.
It's work that's carried its own unique rewards and its own moments of personal fulfillment.
"There really is a sense in Cherry Creek Schools that everybody is a part of the mission of helping kids succeed. That positive morale makes a difference, and it's been gratifying," Smith said. "As part of the Communications Office, you really get an inside look at what's happening in the schools. You hear the incredible stories of our students, who are doing amazing things, from researching cancer to launching projects on the International Space Station.
"It's exciting to be part of that. It's really what it's all about; the kids in this district are so brilliant, and there's so much hope in watching them and thinking about what they can accomplish," she added.