One June 2, at the 2017 All Staff Recognition Event Dr. Marion Smith Jr was awarded the 2017 Excellence and Equity in Education Award.

“As a career-long, certificated K-12 urban education transformational leader and teacher, I have had the privilege of designing, transforming and sustaining K-12 systems and school improvement in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington. History documents my focus on disrupting and dismantling inequitable policies, practices and procedures, so all students achieve at high levels. I appreciate that my work this year has been recognized, acknowledged and spotlighted by my PSESD colleagues as a reminder, to all,  that to be unapologetic and unwavering in this work is critical. I look forward to my continued collaboration and partnership, as we remain fearless advocates and leaders for historically underserved and marginalized students and families.” – Dr. Marion Smith, Jr. 

Dr. Marion SmithDr. Marion Smith Jr, regional director of K-12 learning, leadership and student success, has been at PSESD since 2015. Coming from Seattle Public Schools as an elementary school principal into this role was not an easy transition. Dr. Smith however has taken this opportunity, from his first day at PSESD and continues to work to serve the schools, students and families in our region by leading with racial equity.

One example of how Marion actively leads with racial equity is his innovative fee for service institute, “Coaching & Leading for Racial Equity Institute” which he founded and co-facilitated. Leading change initiatives within organizations is often challenging for staff, administrators, directors and superintendents. This three-part, experiential institute develops and deepens adaptive coaching and leadership skills to become a more effective leaders while building capacity to foster positive change on behalf of historically under-served students and families. The Institute is guided by an essential question: What coaching/leadership moves are critical to implement to disrupt and dismantle inequitable practices and systems so all students achieve?

Another example of Marion’s commitment to leading with racial equity is how he shows up in every meeting, pushing colleagues to ensure racial equity in PSESD programs and services to make tangible differences in people’s lives. Dr. Smith works with teachers, schools leaders, instructional/leadership coaches and community-based organizations to support the movement to end structural racism.

This shows up in PSLA in ELA meetings, in department meetings, and in one on one meetings; Marion pushes those around him to shift their lens and to acknowledge that institutional problems hurt everyone, but people of color are hurt first and hardest. Dr. Smith is bold, brash and unapologetically committed to leading with racial equity to ensure success for each child and eliminate the opportunity gap.

Congratulations Dr. Smith and thank you for all you do in service of children and families.