January Newsletter 2024

“Do I have you hooked yet?”

A Visit with Lori Smith

By Dale Dauten

Think back on the best teachers you ever had…

You’re picturing one of them and you’re smiling, right?

That’s because the best teachers care about you and about their subject and how to connect the two. And the way to do that was to make it either important or fun, to make learning a game or a joy or both.


What got me thinking about learning was visiting with Lori Smith, who had a career as a teacher and now is bringing those skills to the stained glass room at Silveridge, adding that her motto for the classes is, “Make stained glass fun again!”

Lori told us that she is no expert on stained glass, saying, “I’ve only been doing it three years — there are plenty of people here with a lot more knowledge.” However, she had 35 years in the classroom and combines that with a newer passion for stained glass. Asked how she got interested, she said, “A friend and I would go walking in the park every day, and I saw the shop, and… I got hooked.” Since then, she’s taken stained glass classes, most recently ones focused on mosaics and lead, and continues experimenting with her own projects, saying, “There are so many things I want to try, I go around thinking, ‘I can’t wait to do this, and I can’t wait to do that.’”


She brings that energy to her classes, explaining that she’ll be introducing a new small project each month – for instance, in February it will be making hearts for Valentine’s – and her hope is that these smaller works will get people interested in taking on bigger projects. Her goal, as she puts it, “Do I have you hooked yet?”


And if that sounds a bit intimidating, Lori adds, “You get hooked because it’s real creativity – you start with nothing and end up with something. But, you get hooked mostly because it’s fun. We talk a little bit, we grind a little bit, we talk a little bit. And if we break some glass… [shrugs].”

Lori has plenty of company in the stained glass room. She recently did a complete reorganization and cleaning with the help of Cindy Henniger and Renee Eskelson. (That’s Renee with Lori in the photo below.)
And the day we visited, Kim Brewster (photo below) was on duty as the monitor. He’s one of the experienced stained glass folks who volunteers to keep the room open and to offer assistance to anyone who comes by to work on a project.


We asked Lori to tell us the best way for folks interested in stained glass to connect and she explained that…


“If you are interested in taking a class or just checking out the Stained Glass room, please stop in. (Classroom is located just north of the laundry room.) The classroom hours are posted on our door, on Silveridge Connect and at the Activities Office. We are open 2-3 hours a day, Monday – Friday. If it is busy or closed, please feel free to text Lori @701-337-6042. We post student projects and upcoming class opportunities on Silveridge Connect. It’s interesting how many of the students add their own little stamp of individuality on their project, and are usually ready to start another project, building on what they have learned.”



A BRIEF BIO OF LORI: We always like to learn a bit about the folks we talk with…


Lori Smith grew up in Garrison, North Dakota. We mentioned that she was a teacher for 35 years, and that’s a family tradition – her father was a school superintendent, while her grandmother, sister and several nieces and nephews were/are teachers. Even now, after having retired from her fulltime teaching job, when she’s back in North Dakota she teaches Drivers Ed and even drives a school bus. (“People always ask me. ‘How can you drive with kids?’ And I say, ‘I don’t know. I just love it.’”)


As for her years in the classroom, she ended up teaching as part of Title 1, the national program for remedial reading and math. That meant, as she explained, “I got 4 to 5 kids at a time for half an hour. Everything I did with them I wanted to make fun. We had games and art projects and even cooking.”


Lori loved her career, loved working with kids and had no plans to retire — then Silveridge changed her mind. She told us, “My parents had a place at a nearby park, so I knew the lifestyle. I used to fly down every Christmas and when I had to leave, I’d put my forehead against the glass and say, ‘I’ll be back.’ And one of those times when I was back, I went with siblings to look at nearby parks. We got to Silveridge and I liked the space and it had a small-town atmosphere. I didn’t know I was buying that day. I didn’t know I was retiring that day.” That was six years ago and ever since she divides her year between Silveridge and North Dakota. (Photo: one of Lori’s projects)