Jennifer Miller Smith Of Mercersburg Academy On 5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator or Teacher

An Interview With Jake Frankel

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
14 min readOct 21, 2022


Competency — It’s hard to care about something if you feel that you can never be successful at it. This isn’t about telling kids they are great at things when they’re not; it’s about high expectations and structures that encourage students to keep working to meet those expectations. When I first began teaching AP chemistry, I attended an AP institute led by experienced teacher Carol Brown. She made the case for allowing students to retake quizzes to improve their scores. I incorporated it into my classes that year and I haven’t looked back since. When students have the chance to improve their work, they do, as long as they believe they can do better.

As a part of my interview series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Be A Highly Effective Educator”, I had the pleasure to interview Jennifer Miller Smith.

Jennifer Miller Smith is Dean of Academics at Mercersburg Academy, a private college prep school in central PA. She was the valedictorian of her Mercersburg Academy graduating class (1997) and returned to the school in 2008 to teach science and math before becoming dean of academics in 2019. Jen has also been the school’s head diving coach and was the 2010–2011 recipient of the school’s Zern Excellence in Teaching Award. Jen earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory”behind what brought you to this particular career path?

I’ve always gravitated to education-related jobs, even before it was a career path I knew I was interested in. I worked as a lab…