Peggy Ann Lamar Smalls is an award-winning elementary educator and educational consultant who enjoyed a 31-year career in Atlanta Public Schools before retiring in 1997. Born and raised in Atlanta as one of five siblings, Ms. Smalls developed a personal understanding of the value of education from a very young age. She credits her ambition to her parents, especially her mother, who she remembers as “very present and involved,” and who counseled her to always do the best she could at everything she attempted. Ms. Smalls’ mother was open about her own educational background: though a strong student, she had been forced to leave school and find work after her parents’ untimely deaths, and she encouraged her children to make education a priority in their own lives.
Ms. Smalls graduated from Clark Atlanta University in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts. She spent the 1965-1966 academic year as a substitute teacher for elementary and middle-grades students before accepting what would become a career-defining position in Atlanta Public Schools the following year. From 1966 until her retirement in 1997, Ms. Smalls specialized in teaching social studies and general education to students in grades four through eight. As a part of her commitment to lifelong learning and remaining on the cutting edge of instructional practices, she continued her education throughout her career, earning a Master of Education from the University of Georgia in 1975 and an educational specialist degree at Brenau University in 1995. Ms. Smalls is licensed by the state of Georgia to teach elementary grades and middle grades, secondary-level social studies, and to provide curriculum and instructional support for students with gifted and talented designations.
In recognition of her dedication to her students, vocation, and the Atlanta Public Schools community, Ms. Smalls has been presented with numerous honors and awards. She was named 1978 Teacher of the Year by Walden Middle School and was a reading program grantee of Apple Corporation, in addition to being honored as an IBM Corporation Technology Teacher of the Year. Outside of the classroom, she has spent many years as an independent educational and curriculum consultant, tutor, and mentor to high school students. She fosters a lifelong passion for activism and community outreach, volunteering as a Georgia state campaign worker representing the AFL-CIO/AFT, serving as the past vice president and newspaper editor of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers Local 1565, and the founder of the River Run Civic Association. As a successful teacher and consultant, Ms. Smalls is a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the International Reading Association, and the National Alliance of Black School Educators.
Ms. Smalls treasures time spent with her extended family and community, and is one of the oldest remaining members of her family. She is a parishioner of the Greenforest Community Baptist Church, a lifetime member and historian for the H.M. Turner High School National Alumni Organization, and a Silver Star member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she has been active since 1993. Ms. Smalls is a former president and vice president of the Lambda Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, co-chair of the sorority’s South Atlantic Region awards and exhibits committee, and the creator of several award-winning chapter scrapbooks, among other honors. She enjoys creative writing, and her work has been included in many newsletters, scrapbooks, and keepsakes for alumni and sorority events. While she enjoys her retirement from classroom teaching, Ms. Smalls looks forward to remaining involved in the world of education, as well as continuing to maintain her close relationships with her family and social groups for years to come.