From day one, Jason Smith said his motto has been to love the students he teaches.
“That hasn’t changed, and that’s who we are and what we do,” Smith said.
The Rogers High School principal was nationally recognized Monday morning as Jostens Renaissance Educator of the Year for his leadership.
Students and staff at Rogers High in Puyallup packed the library to surprise him with the award, which recognizes individuals who have “positively impacted the climate and culture of their school.”
Only two educators from more than 6,000 schools across the country were selected for the award.
Jostens Renaissance is a national educational enrichment program that works to boost GPAs, attendance and graduation rates.
“This is about creating an environment in your building where every student is connected in a meaningful way,” Jostens Renaissance spokesman Rick Morton said.
Smith has accomplished that at Rogers, he said.
“To come into a school as a new principal leader just five years ago and create a change in the environment this quickly, it takes passion and a belief and grit that is so rare today, so he does stand out amongst thousands of individual leaders,” Morton said.
Smith is a 19-year resident of Puyallup and has been principal of Rogers High School for five years. Previously, he was at Puyallup High School for seven years.
Smith was at a loss for words Monday when he was surprised with the award but said he was humbled.
“I love being at Rogers — you guys know that,” Smith told the room. “There’s something special here.”
Puyallup High School teacher Jamie Mooring was selected for the Jostens Renaissance Hall of Fame in May 2017 and was first in the Pacific Northwest. She congratulated Smith on Monday.
“Jason Smith is the kind of school administrator teachers can only dream of,” Mooring said. “He’s compassionate and honest, was a great teacher himself, makes decisions based on what is best for his students and staff, and most importantly for me, he was not afraid to let go of the reins to allow for something great.”
Smith will be recognized at an awards banquet at the Jostens Renaissance National Conference in Florida in July.