The students at Bea’s Kids were buzzing. Their longtime friend and mentor, Will Smith, was returning. The Parish alum hadn’t been able to return since he graduated last May and enrolled this fall as a University of Texas freshman.
“They ask for Will every day,” said Bel Salazar, Bea’s program coordinator. “When they heard he was coming back, they were so excited. They thought he’d be coming back again every day. They love the new Tech Center and it was great they had Will back for that day.”
A non-profit after-school program in Carrollton, Bea’s Kids provides educational and personal development to tutor and encourage students to stay in school. In September, the Will Smith Technology Center was opened in a housing complex to give the students greater digital access to new computers and laptops.
Smith, who was selected as a Dallas Morning News Good Kid last spring, is remembered at Parish for his academic achievements as well as being a hard-nosed goal keeper for the Panthers. In reaching the TAPPS state semifinals, Smith had to play a game after a deep gash on his cheek following a collision in front of the net.
But his tenure at Parish primarily was marked by his commitment to Bea’s Kids.
“When I first started working with Bea’s Kids, it was all about “getting those hours done,” Smith said. “Then I fell in love with the kids and the challenge of tutoring. Without even thinking, my mindset changed from 'how many times do I need to go to get done' to 'how much time can I give Augustine to help him get an A on his math test!'"