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Smathers Receives Education Award

April 23, 2015
head portrait of man
Tyler Smathers

Tyler Smathers, a senior in the elementary education program through the University of Wyoming at Casper (UW-Casper), was recently presented with the Sue Jorgensen Excellent Student in Education award.

The 19th recipient of the honor, Smathers received scholarship funding from John Jorgensen, husband of the late educator whom the award memorializes, which was matched by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

Jorgensen created the award in 1996, honoring UW-Casper education students who earn a minimum 3.5 grade point average, exhibit professional disposition toward mentors and peers, contribute to the education field through leadership and community service, and display a positive attitude to promote excitement and curiosity about learning. Smathers was nominated and selected by UW-Casper’s education faculty and staff.

“Tyler espouses Sue’s (Jorgensen) spirit in an extra way, in that he is kind, respectful and fully committed to the education of young children,” says one faculty member. Another faculty member added, “Tyler has spent considerable time in public service in the school district as a Lego Robotics coach. He did this while going through his junior and senior years at UW-Casper.”

The distinction is one of the branch campus’ highest honors bestowed upon prospective teachers. It was established by Jorgensen to pay tribute to the memory of his wife and the first coordinator of the teacher education program through UW-Casper, Sue Jorgensen. 

“Sue was a tremendous advocate for students who wanted to get an education,” recalled Jorgensen at the recent awards ceremony. “Some students thought they could sign a tuition check and get a degree, but she made them work.”

Smathers says he has always wanted to help people, and found teaching to be a good fit. He enjoys teaching younger children, when they are excited about learning.

“My mentor, Randy Ridgeway, is a great role model,” he says. “He creates relationships with the kids, and really tries to learn more about them.”

Smathers will graduate from UW-Casper with a bachelor’s degree in May, and looks forward to his new role as a fourth grade teacher in the Natrona County School District.

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