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