Every year, we are honoured to recognize members of the SMUS community as they retire and take on new adventures. Read the 2019 Retirees series to learn more about their outstanding contributions to the school. In this story, we recognize Jake Humphries, former university counsellor.
Jake Humphries says it was easy to be successful at SMUS because the students were interested, the staff and faculty were committed, and the parents were highly supportive.
“It’s all about the kids,” he says. “SMUS has a wonderful tapestry of remarkable kids.”
He arrived at SMUS in 2000 with years of experience in both private and public education in North and South Cariboo, Maple Ridge and Victoria. With roles ranging from assistant director to principal, from teacher to consultant to draw on, Jake began his SMUS career as a university counsellor with academic planning for students as his focus.
From 2004 to 2008, Jake was also a Harvey House houseparent. He’s emphatic about the tremendous quality of the boarding program. “It helps to create a hugely valuable life. I’m still in contact with many of the boarders,” he says. “I’ll probably know them all my life.”
Many components of SMUS life held significance for Jake – especially the music program and the outdoor program. “Music’s very important in our family, and the program was superb – all the teachers, all of it.” Jake was briefly part of “The Staff Infection,” a staff band, where he contributed on guitar (other bandmates included Mat Geddes, Donna Williams, Ian Farish and Sean Haydn). He also sang in an adult choir at the school and stage-managed concerts. The range of options for outdoor experiences also struck Jake as he watched students take advantage of experiences such as achieving wilderness first aid certifications, organizing sea kayaking and ski touring trips, performing environmental service work and winter camping. The concentration on fitness, teamwork and perseverance “was excellent.”
After managing the yearbook in his first year, Jake took on much of the photography for many arts and sports events, broadening his connections and appreciation of the wealth of diverse opportunities at the school.
Over his time at SMUS Jake also taught ELL English and Social Studies and initiated and promoted Career Day, forging relationships along the way. “My colleagues were wonderful.” He was deeply impressed with the “first-rate” auxiliary staff. From groundskeepers to bus drivers, to administration, “everyone threw their full weight behind what they were doing.
“Again, it comes back to the kids. We have talented, interested young students. You want to do what you can to maximize their experience for when they go out into the world.”
Jake’s own children attended and thrived at SMUS. All three were involved in SMUS music ensembles and music remains a vital part of their lives. Kathryn, ‘03 spent two years singing opera in Vienna, Elizabeth, ‘05 is currently singing opera and teaching voice in London, England, and John, ‘09 is both a cellist and a guitar and bass player in bands.
During the 20 years Jake spent at SMUS, the culture and community of the school evolved. The school increased in size and there were “more courses, more AP courses, more athletic offerings, the expansion of clubs and many more fantastic opportunities for kids. SMUS also became more socially aware.”
Moving forward, Jake’s future holds a lot of golf and time spent at his childhood haunt at Kootenay Lake. Not retired quite yet, Jake enjoys his consultancy business for academic counselling. He takes pride in supporting student success and academic planning and looks forward to assisting many more students to find their path.