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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Music that Describes Patricia

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 the state chair for 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 is a part of the 2019 Cohort of LEGO Master Educators. Additionally, she received the 2019 Elementary Teacher Excellence Award from the New Jersey Technology and Engineering Educators Association.

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!

Patricia in the News:

Best of NJ

Comments (25)

Kim Donaldson Posted over a year ago

My daughter has Type 1 Diabetes and is lucky to have Mrs. Smeyers as her 5th grade teacher. This is a facebook post I shared about about a special day my daughter had in her classroom. "Proud mom moment: When your 5th grader tells you about the restorative circle time her teacher had in class where they were each asked to talk about something others don't know about them....and she brings up her diabetes as something she was thankful for because it has made her strong and brave. ?? She said she became emotional and then so did her classmates. Even the boy who picks on her the most had tears. ?? Kids are strong and they can make a BIG impact on others! And there sure are some phenomenal teachers out there making big impacts on our kids, too! While I hate this stupid disease, every once in a while we get a glimpse of the silver lining. This is what I'm thankful for."

Barbara Velardi Posted over a year ago

Fabulous. She is a great role model. This entire family are Life Changers. Wonderful family..she has an abundance of energy and always smiling. We need more Trish's in this world..Her three sons are lucky to have her as a Mom

Sylvia de Hombre Posted over a year ago

When someone is “life changing”, this individual will have a significant effect on the course of one's life. In this day and age, once meaningful words, tend to be thrown around way too frivolously. Which, in turn, leads to their value being lost. However, in the case of Mrs. Smeyers, I can wholeheartedly say the title “life changer”, strongly applies. When my son, Nicholas, started 5th grade at Clarendon School, I was ecstatic to hear he was assigned to Mrs. Smeyers’ classroom. She had just won Teacher of the Year for Clarendon School and Hudson County. I knew he was going to end his school years at Clarendon School with one of the best educators around. Mrs. Smeyers has a unique way of connecting with her students. She inspires them to be confident and nurtures a true love of learning. As a parent, it was such a thrill watching Nico’s love of STEM grow exponentially while in her class. Her dedication to my son and all of his classmates was clearly evident from day 1 until day 180. Mrs. Smeyers is unequivocally one of the best educators. She doesn’t just care about the curriculum and “teaching” your child what she is mandated to; she wants to instill within them a love of learning that will ignite a life time of curiosity. As one of Mrs. Smeyer’s “NASA Cadets”, Nicholas acquired certain qualities that he will carry with him his entire lifetime. Mrs. Smeyers, you are the epitome of a “life changer.” You have made a difference in so many students’ lives and will continue to do so. Thank you for loving our children like your own. Thank you for going above and beyond your required teaching duties. Thank you for making our children feel confident and capable. Walt Disney said, ““Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children. “ Thank you for dedicating so much of your time and energy on our “greatest natural resource.”

Tori Wargo Posted over a year ago

Trish is one of a kind. I know her as a fellow educator and friend. We are in the same County Teacher of the Year cohort. Trish is like the energizer bunny- she is on to a new project before her first ten are finished. Her passion and dedication to education is contagious. I couldn’t think of a more deserving person to be recognized as a Life Changer of the Year.

Jamie Davis Posted over a year ago

Such a blessing to her students and their families! Wow.

Stacey Castiglione Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Trish.

Cheryl Spirig Posted over a year ago

Way to go Trish!

Edith Cardaci Posted over a year ago

Trish Smyers is all that an educator, wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend can be. She is totally dedicated and up for any challenges thrown her way. Trish walks with dignity and pride, as she should, and has my vote for Life Changer of the Year because over the years she certainly has changed many lives.

Jennifer Lanzalotto Posted over a year ago

My daughter Olivia was lucky enough to be in this wonderful teachers class!! She gave Olivia confidence to do everything. She helped her through all her hard times!! I am so proud of both Olivia and Patricia for their accomplishments last year!! So proud of both of you this year!!! Patricia Smeyers you would be so proud of Olivia this year!! The progress she made in school all from you!! As a parent I don't know how to Thank you for all you do, not just for my daughter but for all of your students. You are a wonderful person inside and out!!!

Addison Rubin Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Smeyers does everything and anything for her students. She makes us feel like we are her own children, and understands us. In 5th grade I was experiencing a lot of anxiety in math. I felt like giving up and then Mrs. Smeyers stepped in. She saw what I was capable of and took me under her wing. She never gave up on me. She is definitely an amazing teacher. If what Mrs. Smeyers does isn’t worthy of this award, I don’t know what is.

Tracy Rubin Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Smeyers isn’t just an academic teacher. She is springboard of support. She cares deeply about her students’ academic, social and emotional well being. She is a teacher who was able to make an apprehensive student like my daughter who struggles in Math not only comfortable in class, but she was patient and caring enough to take the time to help her and cater to her needs. Mrs. Smeyers goes above and beyond the obligations of her role as a teacher. She is deeply invested in not only ensuring that her students achieve academically, but that they feel at ease as they channel their inner “super hero” in the classroom.

Avalyn Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Smeyers was my 5th Grade Teacher last year. She taught me so much last year, not only academically, but socially and emotionally. She inspired my love for S.T. E.M. and sealed my future decision on going into the engineering field when I get older. She is and absolute fantastic role model for her students and teaches them to have confidence, present themselves in a strong confident way, and to take pride in all of their accomplishments. If there was anyone who deserves a life changer award it is definitely her, because she changes the lives of all the students that she comes in contact with.

chesanga Posted over a year ago

she is an amazing teacher and she makes learning a whole lot more fun.

Patricia Smeyers Posted over a year ago

I am so touched by the comments on this page. I truly have tears of joy for your appreciation of my love of teaching and my belief in facilitating the whole child to be the best version of themselves they can be. It is truly a privilege watching all of my students, since 1993, grow into successful teens and adults. I try to keep in touch with as many as possible and love hearing of new careers, families, and educational opportunities. Once a child and their family joins OUR classroom, I consider them family forever. That holds true for my colleagues and administrators at my district, my online PLN community, and organizational colleagues. I am truly grateful to be in a career that is so rewarding and allows me the opportunity to learn from others every day, even in my leadership roles statewide. My heart grows bigger each year and each child owns a piece of my heart forever. "Shoot for the moon" kids because you are already my stars! Thank you to all I have worked with and collaborated with. I am the teacher I am today because of a team effort of excellent colleagues on an international level and terrific students and families. Alone we are fantastic, but together we are STEMTASTIC!

Maya Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Smeyers was my 5th grade teacher. She inspired me and many other students with her love for STEM and commitment. She was the best teacher I ever had. She challenged me and pushed me. Because of all of her hard work and encouragement, after college I want to do something in the STEM industry. Even now, she still emails me advice and shares opportunities that make me better and stronger academically and emotionally. She cares so much and she is a great teacher overall.

Vatsal Dwivedi Posted over a year ago

Mrs.Smeyers is the best teacher I’ve ever had whenever we weren’t challenged enough she gave worksheets to push our minds she was always kind and wanted you to use 110% on anything. She was always wanted you to have the the best studying environment and questions. In the end she is the most caring, kind, and overall great teacher.

Marie eck Posted over a year ago

You are awesome our school community is blessed to have you!

Thomas Tufaro Posted over a year 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.

Tom Tufaro Posted over a year ago

I have known Trish Smeyers for several years. In that time, she has merged her love of her students with her interest in technology. From there, she has erupted into veritable supernova of service and professionalism. With her knowledge of her students, pedagogy and her innovative spirit, she inspires students and colleagues alike to "shoot for the moon". Her students leave her classroom with a unique skill set and the ability to persevere through the rigors of secondary education. My evaluation of her professionalism is not mine alone. Her peers at Clarendon Elementary School, the Secaucus School District and Hudson County, NJ nominated her for the 2019 Teacher of the Year. Similarly, the? New Jersey Technology and Engineering Educators Association chose her for their Excellence Award. When she posted it to Twitter, forever the team player, Mrs. Smeyers wrote, "I am honored and humbled to be among such a talented and dedicated group of educators. Your incredible introduction was amazing. I can't wait to collaborate and hope I can be of service". Mrs. Smeyers has been involved with several organizations and continues to promote the good word of technology integration in the curriculum at various conferences where she is a respected speaker. She has garnered the respect and rapport of her students, peers and administrators who see her as a master teacher and progressive technologist. I am pleased to recommend her for this award due to her eternal optimism, dedication and service to her students and profession. I am lucky to have worked with her during my time as an administrator in Secaucus, and continue to learn from her every time we talk.

Amanda Dehnert Posted over a year 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 over a year 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 over a year 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 over a year 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 over a year 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 over a year 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!