Panama Central School’s Loren Smith To Receive Mason Award

Loren Smith, a longtime Panama Central School teacher, will be presented with the Joseph H. Mason Award on Aug. 2 during a dinner at Webb’s Captains Table in Mayville.

The award is presented every year by the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County to a union member or staff person whose volunteer service to the community honors the spirit of involvement exhibited by the late Joseph H. Mason.

Smith, a member of the NYSUT/Panama Central School Faculty Association, has been employed as a teacher at Panama Central School for the past 29 years and has served as president of the Panama Faculty Association for 20 of those years. While leading his local union is time-consuming, Smith shared the credit for their accomplishments with a strong team who works together to lead the association.

“We have a great school district with very talented educators,” he said.

Outside of the classroom, Smith spends much of his time involved with basketball. He has coached at Panama and coordinated the Chautauqua County Senior All-Star Basketball game for 20 years. He mentions it with great fondness as it brought him in contact with young people who have very bright futures, both on and off the court. Not one to miss an opportunity, Smith incorporated his passion for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital into the basketball game. All the proceeds from admission go to St. Jude and he uses it as an opportunity to talk about the special research facility with the players.

“Playing this game not only gives back to the community, but it helps the students understand what is important in life,” Smith said.

Every summer since 1995, Smith has organized the Southern Tier Basketball Camp for boys and girls from around the region. He takes great pride in having a variety of past students and camp attendees working alongside him as coaches during the weeklong camp. He views basketball as a way to reach to kids and help them develop greater character. Smith serves as the Section 6 boys basketball chairman and coordinates the playoff games that that take place at Jamestown Community College annually. Serving with representatives from across Western New York, Smith said he takes pride in how impressed they are with the school spirit and community support present at those games.

Beyond the game of basketball, Smith uses his coaching expertise to help fellow teachers plan for retirement. Smith has been a delegate for New York State Teachers’ Retirement System for many years. He supports nine school districts by advising newer teachers about the system, helping teachers plan for retirement and ensuring they have the right paperwork in place. This includes working with teachers facing illness or a difficult family situation.

“Everyone deserves the best plan to fit their situation and I make it my mission to provide that,” Smith said.

Smith was nominated for the Mason award by a fellow teacher at Panama. She adds, “Loren represents what Joe Mason stood for – commitment to the community while serving his union members tirelessly.”

Smith is sure to give credit to his wife, Trish, for supporting him in all of his involvements. The Smiths live in Cassadaga and have one grown son, Cameron. When for relaxation, Smith and his wife spend time at the Vikings and a variety of other service clubs.

“My activities take me away from home in the evening and on weekends and she is very understanding about it,” Smith said.

United Way of Southern Chautauqua invites community members and union representatives to the Salute to Labor dinner to honor Smith. The event will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Webb’s Captains Table in Mayville. Tickets are $50 per person. To make a reservation, contact the United Way office by calling 483-1561.