The contributions of lifelong educators are being honored by their church group with a scholarship to assist doctoral students in the University of Mississippi School of Education.
With a gift of $30,000, the Pamela P. and Jerome W. Smith Excellence in Education Leadership Scholarship Fund honors the Smiths, both of whom have been inducted into the School of Education Hall of Fame. The scholarships will support students in the education leadership doctoral degree program.
“The scholarship was inspired by our very close-knit group of over 120 people who are members of the New Yorkers Sunday School class at Christ Methodist Church,” said Pamela Smith of Jackson, Mississippi, who earned a Doctor of Philosophy in education from Ole Miss in 2000.
“Our teacher, York Craig is an Ole Miss alum, and when Jerome died, the class established a memorial and suggested I establish a scholarship at the School of Education.”
Jerome Smith, a native of Mt. Olive, Mississippi, earned a degree in education from Ole Miss under the GI Bill in 1948. In 1952, he went on to earn a Master of Science in educational administration and counseling from his alma mater. He passed away in June 2019.
During his career, Jerome Smith served as a teacher, coach, guidance counselor and principal before being selected as the executive director of the Mississippi Professional Educators. He later served as education advisor to then-Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice.
Jerome Smith was inducted into the School of Education’s Hall of Fame in 2015, followed by Pamela Smith in 2018.
“This is truly a special scholarship that honors the legacy of two amazing Mississippi educators. I am so fortunate to have known Jerome Smith,” said David Rock, dean of the school. “He was such a powerful and passionate advocate for student learning in our state.
“I was blessed to have Pam serve many years on our Alumni Board as a member and president. She has always been a caring educator who continues to support innovative and creative ways to move the education needle in a positive direction for Mississippi.”
Pamela Smith provided leadership as the associate vice chancellor for public affairs with the Board of Governors in Illinois and as the assistant commissioner for public affairs and development with the Mississippi Commission of Higher Education. She also was president of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education.
“It is only fitting to have a perpetual scholarship named for Jerome and Pam Smith. Each of their careers of leadership in Mississippi education is a model for our graduate students to emulate,” said Billy Crews, the School of Education’s coordinator of external and strategic initiatives.
“Our state and nation are better because of their service from the school house to the highest levels of education at the university level. We are proud to count them as alumni and Hall of Fame members of our School of Education.”
Ryan Niemeyer, chair of the Department of Leadership and Counselor Education, said scholarship support for doctoral students is extremely important and will be a tremendous help to those in the graduate program.
“The vast majority of our students are practicing school administrators who are juggling their work commitments, family commitments and their graduate studies. This, combined with the financial burden of obtaining a terminal degree in their field, is extremely taxing on them.
“Support honoring alums like Pamela Smith and her late husband, Jerome, are vital to our mission. With this generous gift from the Smiths, we will be able to educate and train more practicing administrators who will become change agents for Mississippi schools,” Niemeyer said.
For Pamela Smith, who worked full time while seeking her doctorate, the scholarship is a way to honor her husband’s accomplishments and continue to support education students in Mississippi.
“The dean, faculty and staff have developed a program that is second to none and we are most fortunate to have the Ole Miss School of Education,” Smith said.
“People come from all over for the school’s in-class and online programs, which are excellent and invaluable to our state.”
The Pamela P. and Jerome W. Smith Excellence in Education Leadership Scholarship Fund is open to support from individuals and organizations. Gifts can be made to by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, with the fund’s name noted on the memo line, to 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655 or by giving online at https://give.olemiss.edu.
For more information about supporting the School of Education, contact Kelly Smith Marion at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-2007.
By Mary Stanton Knight