LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Patricia Smeyers

Position: Fifth Grade Math/STEM Teacher
School: Clarendon Elementary School
School District: Secaucus Public School District
City, State: Secaucus, NJ

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Patricia Smeyers was nominated by her spouse, Jarrod Smeyers.

"LifeChanger is a phrase that cannot even express my thoughts adequately when I think about my wife," said Mr. Smeyers. "She has been a fifth grade math/STEM teacher in the Secaucus School District since 1993. This school year, she was named a 2019 NJ State Teacher of the Year Finalist and Hudson County Teacher of the Year, and she deserves every possible award one can receive."

Mrs. Smeyers works endlessly and tirelessly for STEM advocacy. She is a member of the New Jersey STEM Pathways Network, has a leadership role in NJ STEM month, and devotes time to the New Jersey County Teachers of the Year projects, with many future projects on the horizon. She became a Certified Google Trainer, trains teachers and professors on weekends, and provides formal professional development locally and statewide, such as NJASA’s TechSpo, the NJEA convention, district-wide Google training, and more.

Mrs. Smeyers earned her Master's in Educational Technology from Boise State University. She mentors new teachers and facilitates elementary STEM lessons within her building while assisting administration with STEM purchases, presentation proposals, and grants.  She worked in her town's after-school program to help children develop a love of technology. Mrs. Smeyers also worked for Boise State University on a National Science Foundation-funded project to help professors develop STEM curriculum for after school programs and local Idaho districts.  She even advocates for technology for a classroom in Ghana whom she and her children Skype with during class. Mrs. Smeyers always uses social media and blogs to help international teachers and students with ideas, projects, tutorials, and lessons.

Her dedication and devotion to the children of Secaucus goes without question, and this nomination, although submitted by her husband, comes from the heart and words of her whole family, school district, community, and those lucky young children she gives her time, heart and soul to each day.

"Trish arrives at work over an hour early each morning to provide extra help for students. It comes from her heart and devotion to help each and every child succeed," said Mr. Smeyers. "She comes home late telling stories about her high school interns’ successes and changing majors to teaching because of her mentorship, and about how proud she is of the new teacher she facilitates through the school year. She boasts with pride when discussing how the children loved the hover copter, rollercoaster, or bridge building engineering design process. Trish keeps videos of the students expressing their love of STEM and watches them often. I believe it gives her that drive and passion to keep pushing education forward. Even when pushed back and challenged, she pushes on with fierce determination.  I have never seen anything like her work ethic before. Advocacy and teaching are her calling, but she is still always there for me, my business, and most of all, our three sons.

Mrs. Smeyers grew up with an undiagnosed learning disability. In college, she had a professor who changed her life by acknowledging her outstanding writing transformation in class due to her professor’s assistance with strategies and confidence. Mrs. Smeyers committed to change every life she touched from that day on, especially those children who do not realize they have the potential to be successful in school and in the workforce.

"I can barely walk one block in our town without hearing some wonderful story of support or encouragement my wife gave to a child. I hear how her STEM advocacy and her lessons inspired students to become a teacher, computer science major, or engineer," said Mr. Smeyers.

Mrs. Smeyers takes all bumps in life as challenges to face and insists that it makes her the superhero she is today. She is so happy when a student who usually struggles and lacks confidence finally taps into their “Superhero Powers” and raises their hand to lead a discussion or STEM project. She calls it their hidden strengths, and she is determined to help students find them. As she says, “they exist in every child. They just don’t always know they are there."

"It’s funny because since I met her, I've developed my own 'superhero strength' through her support," said Mr. Smeyers "Everyone in our family and town realizes her devotion to children, but what they do not see is the hours she works at home towards this passion through organizational work, planning, sharing resources, and learning. She is a true leader. She is my 'superhero' who has confidence in her strengths. Now, it's time for everyone else to realize her super teaching powers, too. Hundreds of students and families already know that Patricia Smeyers, my superhero wife, is definitely a LifeChanger who will never be forgotten. She would want me to end this by telling her students to 'shoot for the moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.' This is her favorite quote that she lives by every day!

Comments (7)

Thomas Tufaro Posted 3 months ago

I’ve known Patricia Smeyers for the better part of a decade and I can confidently attest that she is a force of nature. Her dedication to her students and her profession are unmatched. As a school leader, Mrs. Smeyers represents the self-reflective researcher practitioner we all want. Her desire to learn, then apply what she has learned to students and colleagues alike is a benefit to any school or district. Mrs. Smeyers has been at the forefront of the technology-curriculum integration that is at the center of school programming today. Her use of technologies is never the center of the lesson, but helps students grasps the material. To better her self, her students, her school and her district, she has studied educational technology and continues to do so. Recently, her dedication to her vocation has been recognized by her district, the county by recognizing her as a state teacher of the year finalist. Similarly, the NJ Technology and Engineering Educators Association awarded her with their Excellence Award. Accolades aside, Mrs. Smeyers embodies the inspirational teacher that every student deserves. Likewise, Mrs. Smeyers is the colleague every teacher should have. I am a better educator for having worked with her.

Amanda Dehnert Posted 3 months ago

Mrs.Smeyers is perfect for the life changer of the year. I was able to spend my whole senior year interning in her fifth-grade classroom and it had to be one of my best experiences I have ever had. Mrs. Smeyers is a selfless person who puts everything she has into her students. She finds a way to turn every lesson into a fun and important lesson for her students. It is an amazing thing to see how much her students admire her due to the knowledge and respect she has. I am so happy and proud to see all that Mrs.Smeyers does in order to incorporate STEM in our school district. She always is trying to find and learn new ways to make her classroom a better place and I admire that about her. For someone who is looking to be a teacher in the future, Mrs. Smeyers is a perfect role model of exactly the teacher I want to be one day. I am so happy I have had the opportunity and amazing experience of interning with Mrs. Smeyers. I hope that everyone can see the amazing qualities that she posses and the great things she does for all of her students and everyone around her. She truly is the best and my role model.

Lea Sallustio Posted 4 months ago

Mrs.Smeyers was my mentor my first year of teaching. If it wasn’t for her commitment and passion about the profession, I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today. I am forever grateful for her insights and helpful advice. I strive to be the teacher that she is. She is an inspiration.

Amr Tawfike Posted 4 months ago

Mrs.Smeyers is the best teacher ever.She helps us when we’re having a tough time.She even made a dance we can do when we’re stressed out on a math problem.

Joan Ellam Posted 4 months ago

Her dedication to the teaching profession has many experienced educators, students and parents to vouch and endorse her talents and achievements. My observation is purely the life rewards afforded her three sons, my great nephews, as a result of her beautiful endeavors and efforts as the best mother, with the example she sets forth every day, in every way. They are a tribute and evidence of her unselfish and guiding direction while balancing a teaching and parenting career.

Katherine Steffens Posted 4 months ago

I believe Mrs.Smeyers fits the definition of Lifechanger of the Year in so many ways. One outstanding opportunity to enhance her STEM program presented when she was invited to spend a week in the Mohave Desert learning and working with NASA engineers on the Space Hubble. She gave up a planned vacation in July to go to the heat of the desert for the opportunity for her students to work on this project during the school year and was it ever a success. This is just one example of the length she will go to to encourage ALL students to become excited about STEM as in this case engineering. I could describe many other instances, however this one provides you with an insight to the dedication and commitment that impacts her students every day.

Susan Steffens Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Smeyers is the absolute best. Never have I seen a more dedicated and caring teacher. She advocates for classroom equality, STEM education, and she constantly strives for individual excellence, in herself, her beloved students, and her peers. I am so proud of all she does to contribute in making the Secaucus School District stand out for its STEM curriculum and overall educational superiority. She continues to change lives with her caring, wonderful teaching skills, and her personal example of never giving up. She studies constantly and endeavors to be a better teacher each day. She's leading our children into a bright future!