Five Questions With… Jackie Smith

Posted on Wednesday, November 9th, 2022

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 edition of the Gaynor Gazette.

Gaynor teacher Ms. Smith

Walking around the halls of Gaynor, you may see Jackie Smith’s smiling face once, twice, or even three times! That’s because in her seven and a half years at the school, Jackie has taken on various roles in the community. Along with teaching science, she also serves as the assistant athletics director and has helped develop Gaynor’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion curriculum.

We sat down with Jackie for the latest installment of our “Five Questions With…” series to discuss what started her career in education, and what she enjoys the most about teaching.


1. What was your journey into teaching like?

When I was an undergrad, I was actually premed. I was going to be a doctor. I was a neuroscience major, so I wanted to study the brain. Then just to be extra sure that I wanted to be a doctor, I took a gap year and worked in a doctor’s office. I found myself playing in the waiting room with the children more often than I was treating them in the back. So that’s what motivated me to get my degree in teaching, and I’ve been in love ever since. We have the best job in the world.


Gaynor faculty members at the Gala.2. What do you enjoy about teaching at Gaynor and being a teacher?

I think what I enjoy most about teaching at Gaynor are the kids. I think the demographic of kids – the learning profiles that we teach – are extraordinary. I’ve never met more hilarious kids in my life. I find a way to laugh every day with my students, and that’s so important to me. And seeing them thrive, especially through these last few years, has been an honor to witness.

What I like most about my job is two things. The first thing is probably the answer that everyone gives: the people that we work with. This community in particular is so strong, and I love that we’re all motivated to achieve similar goals. We’re all so passionate, and I don’t think that I could find another place where everyone I work with is on the same page. What I love about teaching specifically is the creativity. Every batch of students and every lesson is different. Being able to problem solve and flex my creative muscles is such a joy. It’s also the most difficult part of the job, but when you have a lesson that is creative and you put your heart and soul into it, and it goes well and the kids are engaged and they’ve learned something – that’s the same feeling I get when I eat chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.


3. I know you’re involved in many different areas of Gaynor. What drives you to want to be involved?

I guess it’s my passions both as a former athlete, because I’m assistant athletic director, and as a Black person in the world that have really led to the connections I’ve made outside of teaching science. I swam through my freshman year of college, and leaving the sport was really difficult for me. It was a loss of identity, but I found that piece of myself in joining the athletics program. In regards to my work in DEI, one of the most important parts in any job is to feel safe. Fostering a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment is key to that. Through this work, everyone in the community can be seen and heard, and I’m grateful to Gaynor for hearing the needs of marginalized communities, and taking action to respect and appreciate the needs of our diverse communities.


Ms. Smith holding her dog.4. Do you have a favorite student story?

Last year, I was podded with Ms. Pincus and Mr. Tedesco in Yellow Cluster. We were practicing telling jokes as part of exercising our pragmatic language during snack time (dad jokes galore). And one day, a student comes in and says, ‘Ms. Smith, did you bring your Windex today?’ And I said, ‘No, why?’ And he said, ‘Cause your science lessons are looking a little dusty!’ And that is my favorite student moment. For the record my science lessons are almost always on point.


5. What’s your passion?

I feel like my passion is laughing. I never stuck to one activity. I don’t have hobbies, but everything I do I try to laugh – I’m a laugher.