Dr. Zane Smitley has been on staff in the GRACE upper campus since 2003 and while he earned his undergraduate degree in secondary education (history), his journey to teaching took a few unexpected turns including a doctorate degree in chiropractic medicine. After 13 years of private practice in North Raleigh, God led Zane back to his first love, teaching. When GRACE was smaller, Zane taught both science and history, but the increase in high school enrollment has resulted in a full teaching schedule of Biology, Anatomy/Physiology, and AP Biology.
A highlight of his years at GRACE was the year that the yearbook was dedicated to him. Zane counts it as an honor to be recognized with the others who came before him. Zane states that as a teacher, it is simultaneously scary, challenging, and rewarding when alumni return to school and let him know that they have decided to pursue an occupation related to something that he has taught. More than the knowledge he imparts (and he imparts a lot, just ask his students), Zane values the opportunity to pour into the lives of young people who can make a difference in our world.
Zane enjoys working at GRACE and working with people who care about him. He states that his colleagues lift him up when he is down and encouragement through tough times. During his years at GRACE, Zane lost his father and his sister and remembers well the support and care that the GRACE community gave to him and his family.
One of Zane’s favorite GRACE events is the annual field trip that he takes with his Advanced Placement Biology students. He loves the opportunity to take students out of the classroom and away from the theoretical so that they can experience science in its natural form. Students collect data, analyze and predict real time results, and see how the world interacts while making friendship bonds with their classmates while working together.
With his varied background and occupations (he has driven a school bus, a church bus, and worked for four years as a finish trim carpenter), Zane quotes Romans 12:1-2 as a verse that moves him to action. In his own words, life is not about breathing, your occupation, or the money you make, it’s about living a life with purpose and action. Every day Zane tries to think of what he is doing to live for Christ. He continually challenges himself to assess if the world is changing him or if he is changing the world with Christ leading the way.
When asked what advice he would give, Zane referenced a statement his brother made at their sister’s funeral. He said that “she died well” and meant by this phrase that she lived her life to the fullest because she had no worry of the next life. Her future was guaranteed. Zane believes that Christians should be the happiest people on the planet because we already know our future. It is Zane’s desire his five children, his seven grandchildren, and all else who know him will be able to say, upon his death, that he died well.