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Newton's Jason Smith named Teacher of the Year

Newton High School’s Jason Smith was named Newton County School System’s Teacher of the Year Thursday.

Smith was given the honor at a ceremony at Newton High School from among fellow finalists Cecily Bullock, of Alcovy High School, and Tanahia Benton, of Liberty Middle School.

Smith was influenced by several musicians throughout the course of his education who motivated and inspired him to become a teacher. They included local musicians, including relatives, from his hometown, New Orleans and also his high school and college band directors. Through the years, they exposed him to numerous opportunities and encouraged him to work hard and be dedicated to his craft. He credits his two college band directors as the reasons why he specifically chose to become a band director. One saw something in him and gave him the opportunity to attend Hampton University; the other mentored him from his senior year of college through graduate school. With his career goal now determined, Smith obtained a bachelor of arts in music education from Hampton University in 2004 and added a master’s in music education from Hampton University the following year.

Smith began his teaching career at Stephenson High School in DeKalb County Schools in 2005 before joining Newton County School System as the band instructor at Newton High School in 2009. He has been at Newton High ever since. He is a member of the Georgia Music Educators Association, the Georgia Association of Jazz Educators, the National Association for Music Educators, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America. He was recently named a quarterfinalist for the 2017 Grammy Foundation Educator Award that recognizes current educators who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

Smith is a very active volunteer for the Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial in Conyers where he serves as the unofficial bugler to play “Taps,” for all Walk of Heroes programs. He also supports the Arts Association of Newton County and last year assisted the organization with their gala to raise funds for the local hospital.

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