Washington Staff

Sarah Smith

Ninth Grade Success Coach, Center for High School Success

A native of Virginia whose family had deep roots in the Civil Rights movement, Sarah earned a scholarship to attend boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy for her later high school years. That experience set the course for her life’s work in education, with a particular focus of closing the gaps in our society via access to equitable educational opportunities. A singular book, Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalities, assigned in an 11th grade ethics class shaped the course of her next 30+ years as a public school educator and non-profit founding team member.

For the past 20 years, Sarah served in multiple roles at Rainier Scholars (executive director for the past ten), an educational and leadership development program in Seattle which she helped to start in 2000. Rainier Scholars identifies low-income students of color striving to become the first in their family to graduate from college and offers academic enrichment, leadership, college and career development opportunities from 5th grade through college graduation. She has worked with thousands of scholars and families over the past two decades and is ever-inspired to see where their hard work, commitment and belief in the power and value of education has taken them. A growing core of alumni graduates emerging into the community stepping up to work, serve and lead serves as the humblest reminder of how impactful the work has been.

Sarah is excited to join the Stand team and return to her roots in public education. Early in her career, she taught at Nathan Hale High School, co-designing a “9th grade academy” program which shared so many of the goals of the Washington High School Success program. Believing deeply in the power of the transition experience into high school shaping so much of what’s to come, she’s excited to work with principals and freshman teams to design and deliver impactful outcomes.

Sarah graduated from the University of Virginia where she served as captain of the women’s rowing team and earned a Master’s in Education degree from Stanford University. She remains a nationally competitive rower, avid runner, backpacker and college hoops fan. She lives in Southeast Seattle with her spouse, son and daughter who while proving to be great company in quarantine 2020, do look forward to getting back to their baseball and soccer teams respectively when the pandemic has slowed.

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