Earlier this month, Rogers High School’s principal Jason Smith was recognized as the Jostens Renaissance Educator of the Year. The annual award, which is given to only two educators selected from more than 6,000 schools across the country, recognizes individuals who have “positively impacted the climate and culture of their school.”
“I’m very honored and humbled,” Smith said several days after receiving the award in the packed library of the Puyallup high school on Monday, May 13. “A really neat result is that a lot of former teachers I’ve worked with and students I’ve had throughout the years reached out and said ‘hello,’ and we were able to connect again. That’s been really special.”
Smith has spent the last five years as the principal of Rogers High School; he also has taught high school English, worked for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and served as a dean of students.
When asked about the impact he wants to make through the many facets of his work, Smith said that he hopes to care for students and hold them accountable, so that they can reach their full potential.
“When I was in high school, there were a lot of teachers who really cared for me, and I’ve always known that I wanted to recreate that experience for other students,” he said. “We care about these students as young people — who they are, and where they’re going in the future. It’s our responsibility to educate them, care for them, and hold them accountable in the process.”
Though it’s Smith who has been singled out to receive the award, he said that the recognition should really go to his entire team of teachers at Rogers High School, without whom he couldn’t do what he does.
“I have a phenomenal teaching staff — it’s the teachers that really do the heavy lifting,” he said. “It’s nice to be honored, but that’s not why we do that work. And it’s really a celebration of (all of us).”