Get to know Crown Point Junior Music Academy Principal Sakeenah Smith

Crown Point Junior Music Academy Principal Sakeenah Smith with students Dwayne Crosby Jr., Val McGregor and Ruby Smith.
(Cyril Reinicke)

Capacity is one of Crown Point Principal Sakeenah Smith’s favorite words.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word capacity as “a space to hold something, the ability to hold, receive and absorb.” Capacity has its origin from an Indo-European root “kap-“ meaning “to grasp.”

“Building capacity” was the theme of Smith’s conversation about her school, Crown Point Junior Music Academy. She knows the more capacity one builds in students, the more students can absorb and, in turn, develop even more capacity.

Smith became Crown Point’s principal in August 2021.

“I am now starting my second year at Crown Point and loving it,” she said.

Her earned her bachelor’s degree at Grand Canyon University in Arizona. Her first masters degree is from Northern Arizona University. Her second is from Arizona State University.

Before landing in San Diego, Smith was a very successful teacher and administrator in Arizona. In 2011, she was one of eight recipients of the Rodel Teaching Award for the state of Arizona.

Fun facts about Sakeenah Smith

1) She loves to dance, any style, including salsa and ballroom.

2) She has two children, Sienna in eighth grade and Maxwell (Max) in third grade.

3.) The Smith family will soon be welcoming a dog into their home, likely a French bulldog or doodle mix.

4.) Her favorite book is “Matilda” by Roald Dahl.

The Rodel is an annual award presented to outstanding teachers. The achievement of their classroom students, use of effective classroom practices and their potential to be mentors for future teachers are the attributes of Rodel recipients.

“I felt honored to be awarded The Rodel,” Smith said. “But the best part of the award was being able to work with college students enrolled in teacher education programs. I was honored to be assigned student teachers. To mentor and guide them early in their career. I was able to build their capacity as future educators. That is the real honor of the Rodel.”

When asked what stands out about her move from Arizona, she said it was two things.

“First, the interview process,” Smith recalled. “I had to successfully pass four interviews before I was assigned to Crown Point.

“Second, the size of the school. Coming from a school of 1,100 students to Crown Point was an adjustment,” Smith said. “Current enrollment at Crown Point is just under 300. Here at Crown Point I am much closer to each and every student and I have the opportunity to be so much more for our kids.”

She added that her students amaze her everyday. “The parents and staff at Crown Point will step up in every way and to any challenge.”

Crown Point Junior Music Academy has students in kindergarten through fifth grade enrolled in Suzuki violin classes.

“We also have a general music teacher and provide opportunities in choral music, dance, ukulele and guitar,” Smith said. “At Crown Point we continue to look for and explore outside partnerships to enhance and broaden our students’ opportunities in music and across the curriculum.”

When asked about her goal for Crown Point the word capacity rose to the top again.

“To build capacity in our students so they are empowered to think critically, to problem solve and to be relentlessly creative in their quest to reach their full potential,” Smith said.