St. Mary’s Ryken congratulates Mr. Jonathan Smith, mathematics and science teacher, on his selection as a 2021 Maryland finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) program. This prestigious award recognizes his outstanding contributions as a teacher of mathematics in Maryland.

Mr. Smith has been a valuable member of the St. Mary’s Ryken community since 2016. Mr. Smith holds a Masters of Arts in Secondary Mathematics and currently teaches several courses at St. Mary’s Ryken including Precalculus, AP Statistics, Aerospace Engineering, and Engineering Design and Development.

“Measured against the Five Dimensions of Outstanding Teaching, Mr. Smith is second to none,” said Dean of Student and Faculty Development, Mrs. Crystal Dunkin. “In his classroom, he fosters a growth mindset with metacognitive approaches to student learning. Mr. Smith encourages his students to walk through the thinking process out loud, considering through their work in smaller, manageable steps when working through complex problems. Mr. Smith’s awareness of his students’ current skills and knowledge, and his expectation for rigor and growth, exist in a harmonious balance. His students demonstrate perseverance by engaging in challenging activities in an environment of ongoing encouragement and intentional investment in students’ confidence to apply skills and knowledge to new challenges.”

Mr. Smith employs many mathematical best practices to support student learning. His student-centered instruction is rich and varied. For example, he has created a classroom culture centered on mathematical discussion. Mr. Smith notes “if students feel comfortable talking about math and asking questions, then they will develop a sense of success and never fear a math course in the future.” Mr. Smith’s colleagues note that he is “very hands on” and “gets down to the student’s level… always so encouraging and open to student ideas.”

“Mr. Smith uses a variety of techniques to allow students to demonstrate learning,” said St. Mary’s Ryken Principal Catherine Bowes. “In his Engineering Design and Development course, Mr. Smith has partnered with professional engineers specializing in Systems Engineering and Civil Engineering to offer feedback on students’ yearlong research and design project.”

Within the school community, Mr. Smith models lifelong learning, both in his classroom and among his peers. For example, last school year, Mr. Smith set a professional goal of increasing his skills with 3-D printing to support STEM students at St. Mary’s Ryken. Mr. Smith partnered with another STEM teacher to learn how best embrace the technology. This professional growth supported student learning as one senior was able to print a 3-D turbine engine with over fifty moving parts.

Mr. Smith is dedicated to excellence as a math teacher and member of the community. Mr. Smith’s impact is felt far beyond his classroom and is a well respected member of the St. Mary’s Ryken faculty. 

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