Jamie Usher is the Principal at Belize High School (BHS) and mentor for FIRST® Robotics Competition team 9244 “Team Belize.” She has been involved with FIRST® since the program was established in Belize in 2018, and she has been weaving FIRST Core Values into her school ever since.
As Principal, Jamie identifies opportunities for her students to showcase their talents and ideas, which is one of her favorite parts of her job. For her, incorporating STEAM and FIRST into the everyday experience at her school is key in showing students that collaboration leads to success for all. When talking about her students’ achievements, Jamie says, “knowing that we played a small role in their journey is truly fulfilling.”
Read more about Jamie’s career and impact below.
What is your favorite part of being a Principal at BHS?
As a high school Principal, the best part of my job is witnessing some incredible transformations. Every school year, [the students] grow in knowledge, confidence, and skills and are more capable of positively impacting their communities. A significant aspect of my role is working with a dedicated team of educators who share the same passion for education and student success. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of our students and create a bright future for them. My team and I take pride in creating a safe and welcoming environment for students to learn and grow. Additionally, it's rewarding to help students set goals and take strides that get them that much closer while in high school. With every graduation, it's emotional to watch them take their next steps; knowing that we played a small role in their journey is truly fulfilling.
I am grateful and honored that our school community has been demonstrably successful in changing the educational landscape and system for Belize. Through our academics, experiential and extracurricular efforts, the team at BHS has highlighted the wonderful Belizean talents, gifts and ideas.
What is the hardest part of your job?
One of the biggest challenges in [working] with young people can be their varying moods and emotions (due to adolescent development). FIRST allows us to teach them that failing doesn't have to be embarrassing; failing is a natural part of learning. In my experience, [many students] are generally reluctant to try new things, but access to a program like FIRST has formed a safe place not only to fail but keep them focused and motivated. Additionally, with the [Core Values] like Coopertition® and inclusion, FIRST students naturally become fantastic human beings.
Can you share your thoughts on the impact of your personal/professional work in STEAM?
STEAM skills for me are REAL LIFE SKILLS. STEAM isn’t a curriculum or something that you stop and do. For me, realizing that we are connected, that we all have a role, and that we have to collaborate to succeed, makes STEAM come alive in real-life scenarios. If we approach learning with those attitudes, whether student or teacher, it gives us a head start to solving the challenge[s]. That attitude will help us retain information better (because we’ve made it real) and enable us to make more informed decisions (because our decisions will include their impact on all stakeholders). By understanding how the information applies to the world around us, this type of learning can help us develop empathy and understanding for those around us, as we can see how different experiences and perspectives shape our understanding of the world. Ultimately, connecting knowledge to real-life scenarios makes learning more engaging and meaningful while also providing a framework for navigating the complexities of our world.
The added benefit of working together with FIRST is that the students emerge better people, and the more humans we have that respect each other, and that work well together - think of all that we can accomplish!
Are you creating change/making a difference – how so?
My “get up and go to school” motivation is the opportunity to impact the lives of those around me positively. I hope that by providing guidance, support, and resources, I can help individuals and families thrive. Whether it's through organizing events, facilitating discussions, or being an example of what's possible, I strive to create opportunities for students to see their potential, their values, and the chance to have an impact. It is a privilege to serve as a leader for BHS, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with these incredible students who will go out and make a difference in the world.
Who is a “Person of STEAM” who inspires you?
Every time I listen to Dean Kamen, it's an emotional experience because his passion for STEAM is palpable; it permeates from every word, every smile, every handshake. He inspires me because it isn’t something he puts on or ever takes off, it's who he is, and that's what I aspire to be.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
I’d encourage her to try more things. It can be easy to stick to what we know and what's comfortable, but there's so much out there to discover! It may be challenging for you as a young woman but don't hesitate to step outside your comfort zone or do something for the first time. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise! Keep exploring and trying new things - it's one of the best ways to grow and learn.
Do you have a message you want to share for students participating in FIRST today?
Your courage, innovation, and teamwork have been truly inspiring to watch, and I am so honored to witness your incredible progress. You are all such talented and driven individuals, and I have no doubt that you will continue to achieve great things in the future. Your dedication to science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and all the wonderful extras that come naturally with FIRST— is truly admirable, and I am so proud of all that you have accomplished so far. Keep up the amazing work, and always remember that you have the power to change the world for the better. Your creativity, passion, and determination are truly invaluable, and I can't wait to see all that you will achieve in the years to come.
Are you a person of STEAM? Share your story with #PeopleofSTEAM on social media or send us your story at email@example.com.