Jason Smith at Rogers High School

Alumnus goes from the classroom to the principal’s office

Schools are busy places full of ringing bells, bustling hallways, clanging lunch trays, screeching sneakers and more. Overseeing the flurry of activities every day and leading the whole building forward is the school principal.

“It’s hard to really describe what a day is like,” said Jason Smith, principal of Rogers High School in the Puyallup School District. “Every day I’m working with students, everyday I’m working with teachers and community members, working with parents. I try to be out of my office as much as possible and in classrooms and hallways because that’s where I can effect change – in the hallways, classrooms and lunch room.”

Each day he works with a wide variety of people.

“It’s the relationships that I enjoy most,” Jason said. “I get to have so many relationships with so many different people – students, teachers, parents, staff, community, office staff and lunch room staff. Positive relationships with so many different people.”

At the end of the day, what he finds most fulfilling is witnessing the growth of his students.

“Seeing students come in at the 9th and 10th grade level and watching them grow and mature into seniors, and then watching them leave my school and go out into the world, that’s the most rewarding part,” Jason said.

From teacher to principal

Jason was inspired to transition from his role as a high school English teacher to a principal by some encouraging school administrators.

“I had some really good administrators who I looked up to and they helped pique my interest in educational leadership,” Jason said. “They showed me that when it comes to education it’s about the people, and it’s about working with teachers and caring for teachers so that they can care for kids.”

To become a principal, he needed to earn a Washington State Principal Residency Certificate.

“At the time I entered City University of Seattle, I already had my master’s degree but needed the certification and CityU offered me a rigorous program,” Jason said. “I was able to take classes on the weekends, so I was able to keep teaching full time and also get my principal credential. The mentorship I received from Dr. John Armenia, a faculty member at that time, was fantastic and invaluable.”

Now, several years later, CityU is partnering with Puyallup School District to help teachers earn their principal certifications on-site at the district.

“It’s a fantastic partnership because you’ll be able to continue the excellence of CityU’s [practitioner faculty model] with working practitioners in a fantastic school district,” Jason said. “Our superintendent, assistant superintendent and principals who are in the district understand what’s going on and are able to coach and support students along the way, and that’s pretty special.”

Asked what he would tell someone considering studying at City University of Seattle, Jason said:

“I would tell them that it’s a program that honors and respects their current work. It’s a program where their professors are going to be working practitioners, and that the mentorship that they’ll receive is truly a real partnership with people who can support them as they grow into educational leaders outside the classroom.”

Keep learning

Read more about the CityU and Puyallup School District partnership, or about CityU’s programs that are open to all students including the Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership with Administrator Certification and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with Administrator Certification.