Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society has named Texarkana College President Dr. Jason Smith a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Paragon Award for New Presidents. Smith is one of 28 college presidents throughout the nation who will be recognized by PTK at their annual convention. More than 500 college presidents were eligible to receive this award.
Dr. Mary Ellen Young, TC’s PTK lead faculty advisor, said student chapter members and advisors nominated Smith for the award, which is given to new college presidents demonstrating strong support of student success by recognizing academic achievement, leadership, and service among high-achieving students at their college.
“The Zeta Sigma Chapter at TC nominated President Smith for consideration of the award,” Young said. “Our students see President Smith in action around campus and they recognize his support of the chapter’s service to the college and the community. He takes the time to regularly meet with students to encourage their feedback on college issues. He also makes great effort to recognize Phi Theta Kappa students and their success at board meetings, new student orientation, and community events. We are so grateful for his support of our chapter through his involvement and dedication of resources to help us meet our goals.”
Young said Smith’s support of the Zeta Sigma College Project, TC ISD Strong, has made a significant impact on helping area high school students navigate the college enrollment process.
“Zeta Sigma members have partnered with the college president, college recruiters, Black Student Association, and Student Government Association members to mentor and work with junior high and high school students,” Young said. “Some of the areas they cover with prospective students are career exploration, financial aid, and the college registration process so they too will realize they can go to college. As a result of the partnerships, PTK has become more prominent on campus and has increased active membership in the officer team and members this year.”
Smith said his awareness of PTK’s impact on students dates back to his time as a college student at Grayson College in Denison, Texas.
“My wife, Jodie, and I were both students at Grayson College,” Smith said. “She was a member of the Omicron Psi Chapter of PTK and served as an officer. She benefitted so much from her experience by building a network of friends and mentors and gaining valuable leadership experience. I regret to this day that I was not a member, and I realize it was a huge missed opportunity for me. I take every opportunity I can to tell students about the importance of working hard to earn good grades so that when opportunities like PTK come available, they can qualify for membership.”
After attending Grayson College, Smith graduated from Texas A&M University – Commerce, where he earned his bachelor of science, master of education, superintendent certification, and doctorate of education administration.
Smith began his career in education as a teacher and coach at Melissa Independent School District. He then worked as principal for Maypearl Middle School and McKinney North High School. Additionally, Smith served as an adjunct educational administration professor for Texas A&M University – Commerce. In 2014, he co-founded and served as chief executive officer for TeacherTube, an educational media company. He served as the Melissa ISD superintendent of schools for 11 years before moving to Texarkana, Texas, in 2016 to become the Pleasant Grove ISD superintendent. After serving the Pleasant Grove school district for two years and successfully passing a $19.9 million bond in 2018, Smith accepted the position to become the ninth president for Texarkana College.
In April, Smith will travel with students and faculty advisors from TC’s chapter to the annual Phi Theta Kappa International Convention Catalyst 2020 to formally receive the Paragon Award. The three-day conference is the 102nd annual convention for PTK and will feature globally acclaimed speakers, innovative workshops, and leadership lessons. More than 4,000 attendees including students, advisors, alumni, partners and friends from all over the world will meet at the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, for the event.
Young said she is hopeful the award will bring more awareness to the great work TC students are doing in the Phi Theta Kappa Hallmark areas of leadership, service, scholarship, and fellowship as a result of membership in Phi Theta Kappa at TC and across the nation.
The criteria to become eligible for membership in the Texarkana College Zeta Sigma Chapter includes “students who have completed at least 15 hours of coursework toward an associate or bachelor’s degree, have a cumulative 3.5 grade point average, and are currently enrolled in at least 5 hours of coursework,” Young said. “PTK recognizes and encourages scholarship among two-year college students and provides opportunities for the development of leadership and service and provides an intellectual climate for exchange of ideas. Our chapter strives to offer opportunities for lively fellowship among members and a springboard for stimulation of interest in continuing academic excellence.”
More information about Texarkana College and the PTK Zeta Sigma Chapter can be found online at https://www.texarkanacollege.edu/campus-life/clubs-and-organizations/ or www.ptk.org.