Jefferson Awards - Students in Action

Sethmi Kachchakaduge, September Jefferson Award Winner 

Cole Mefford, October Jefferson Award winner 

Lauren Young, December Jefferson Award winner

Marie Rossi, January Jefferson Award Winner 



Look for an expanded Leadership Program site soon. For now, we have posted information about the Jefferson Awards for Public Service at San Mateo High School. You can download this Program Overview (PDF, Word), and the Nomination Form (PDF, Word). 

Jefferson Awards for Public Service
at San Mateo High School

Last Monday of each month
to Ms. Cowey

(Use the main office mail box for Ms. Cowey  
or hand deliver to room A001)    


In May 2005 we implemented The Jefferson Awards “Students in Action” here at San Mateo High School. We are in the midst of updating our Annual Plan for the SMHS Students in Action. We continue to recognize and promote community service by San Mateo High School Students, Parents and other stakeholders.

What are the Jefferson Awards?
In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard founded the American Institute for Public Service, a public foundation, to establish a Nobel Prize for public and community service - The Jefferson Awards.
The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients represent a "Who's Who" of outstanding Americans. On the local level, Jefferson Awards recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.
In 1977 the Jefferson Awards began a Media Partnership through which local newspapers and television stations ran major promotions dramatizing local “Unsung Heroes.” In the first year they began with 12 Media Partners. Today they have 147 Media Partners in 93 communities, including CBS-5 in San Francisco.

What role does San Mateo High School play?
In order to increase exposure on the local level, the Jefferson Awards recently decided to launch the Students in Action initiative in over six urban markets in the U.S., San Mateo is taking a lead role as one of the first of 40 schools to begin implementation in the Bay Area. San Mateo essentially works with the local media partners as an influential proponent of public service, as well as an avenue through which members of the San Mateo community – students, teachers, staff, and parents – are themselves recognized for public service and presented with Jefferson Awards. A selection committee selects one student each month to recognize at our monthly Renaissance Recognition Rallies. The winners are also celebrated each spring at our annual celebration for The Jefferson Awards. San Mateo is in turn recognized by its local media partners, and as a National Leadership School by the organization. In the past, we have earned “Best in Bay Area” and the “Gold Level” as a member of the Students in Action Program.

Who coordinates the program at San Mateo High School?
The program is coordinated and overseen by the Leadership Teacher, Activities Directors
The program is called the Jefferson Awards “Students in Action”
•    Student Program Coordinators: The Executive Leaders of the Students In Action Club

Who nominates and selects the Jefferson Award winners?

The bulk of the activity related to the program is tracking service hours and the nomination, selection of the award recipients. A committee was created for this purpose. Members of the “Jefferson Awards/Students in Action” committee include:
• Student Program Coordinator(s)      Jon Li, Andy Kwong, Alice Zheng
                                                         and other JA SIA team members
• Representative of the Parent Teacher Organization - Mrs. Bushman
                                                                                    (PTO President)
• Interact Advisor and Foster City Rotarian              -Greg Kuhl
• Community Service Commissioners             -Lauren Hayat &
                                                                      - Michelle Kwon 
Service Learning Coordonator                             - Nancy Kane
• Current Leadership Teacher                             -Sara Cowey 
The committee may continually modify the nomination and selection process. All of the recipients will be honored at a monthly rally where they will receive the official Jefferson Award Certificates of Excellence and again at school-wide Spring Awards Night where they receive their lapel-pin replicas of the national seal. Profiles of award-winners are also highlighted in the parent bulletin, school website and on the Jefferson Awards SIA Display Board.
*As winners are selected, their names are forwarded to our contact at CBS 5 for regional and national consideration. San Mateo High shall communicate whenever necessary with its media partners and Bay Area Director for the Jefferson Awards, Freda Statom.

How do the Jefferson Awards/”Students in Action” tie into the Leadership programs and the ASB mission at San Mateo?
As it does on the national level, the award serves not only to recognize a select group of “unsung heroes”, but also to advocate public service and inspire everyone in the San Mateo High School family to get involved. The message goes hand in hand with the strong culture of community service that is being cultivated at San Mateo through its unequaled community service projects like the award-winning Canned Food Drive, Blood Drive, on campus collaboration and fundraising events such as the Nancy Cordero Memorial/Cancer Awareness Walk-A-Thon.  More specifically, the program encourages the development of “Leadership”, “Social Justice” and “Global Awareness”.
How does San Mateo benefit from a partnership with the Jefferson Awards?

  • Currently nine students will be selected annually as official winners of the Jefferson Award certificate.
  • Partnership with the organization strengthens the growing culture of community service learning at San Mateo High.
  • San Mateo High School is publicly recognized as a Leadership School by local media affiliates.
  • San Mateo High School will be presented with a large National Leadership School banner by the organization.
  • In the Fall of 2011 we were recognized for excellence in the area of “Fighting Hunger” by the National Service Challenge, part of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service

Other materials and information available at “Jefferson Awards headquarters”

• Official Jefferson Awards information pamphlets, brochures and videos

• The “Help Desk for Help”; a binder of service opportunities in the Bay Area is available with Ms Kane.

All JA SIA MATERIALS AVAILABLE in the Leadership Room –A001

                                                                                                                                *Revised for 2015-2016