Fifth Grade Team

Meet our Fifth Grade Teaching Team!

Jeff Snyder

Mr. Snyder Photo

Mr. Snyder was born in February of 1951 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He spent his younger years participating in sports and enjoying his annual trips across town to watch the Indy 500. He received his B.S. from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana in 1974 and his M.A. from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colorado in 1977.

Mr. Snyder moved to Olympia in 1979 and started his teaching career. He has held teaching positions at WA HE LUT Indian School, the Olympia School District Options Program, the Olympia Community School, and currently enjoys team teaching with Ms. Major and Ms. Smythe at Pioneer. He also taught SCUBA diving and sea kayaking for The Evergreen State College Leisure Education Program.

Mr. Snyder's daughter Rose graduated from Capital High School in 2005 and the University of San Diego in 2009. After working for five years for USA Volleyball in Colorado Springs, Colorado, she is now employed by the University of San Diego athletic department as the Director of Strategic Communications.

Mr. Snyder likes to sea kayak, work for social and environmental justice through several organizations and spend time with his partner Suzanne Wilson, who is a Biology teacher at Centralia High School.

Nancy Major

Nancy Major headshot

Ms. Major was born in Boston, MA in January, 1965. She began teaching after receiving her BA from The American University in Washington, DC. After teaching in the inner-city for a few years, Ms. Major moved to Hawaii where she taught at three different schools, got her M.Ed. degree from the University of Hawai`i at Mano`a, worked at a Children's Museum and started her family. Ms. Major was a stay-at-home mom for over 12 years, raising her two daughters before returning to the classroom. She loves teaching and has been a teacher of K- 5th grades, taught a Gifted & Talented Program, and was a Title I Math Specialist. Ms. Major has lived in Massachusetts, DC, Virginia, Maryland, Hawaii, and Washington. She loves living in Olympia with her two daughters, Zoe and Leah (both former Pioneer students) and their two dogs, Daisy and Clover.

Starr Smythe

Starr Smythe headshot

Ms. Smythe was born in Amarillo, Texas  October 11th, 1973. She moved to Austin in 3rd grade. Ms. Smythe relocated to Olympia when she was twenty five to attend The Evergreen State College. She majored in psychology and Eastern philosophy then received her BA in 1999. She worked as a social worker for over 10 years.

In 2010, Ms. Smythe was accepted into The Master in Teaching program at TESC. She received her MA in 2012 and was hired to teach 4th grade at Madison Elementary. In 2015, she took a year leave of absence and taught at an international school in Sri Lanka. She traveled extensively while in Asia. Ms. Smythe spent a month in India at a yoga teacher training program in a small town located in the Himalayan mountains. After many adventures in Mcleod Ganj and receiving her YTT certification, she returned to Olympia.

Ms. Smythe is passionate about health and wellness. Her hobbies include traveling, being in nature, exercising, surfing, yoga, dance, art projects, as well as spending time with the people she loves. She also really enjoys sunsets, coffee, and chocolate!