Middle School Principal Adopts Student After She Gets Suspended

December 1, 2023

Today's good news story comes from Campbell County, Kentucky.

In a heartwarming turn of events, Campbell County Middle School principal, Jason Smith, opened his heart and home to a troubled student, changing the trajectory of her life.

principal adopts student
Credit: GMA / Marybeth Smith

It all began when 11-year-old Raven Whitaker-Smith found herself in Smith's office after an incident during lunch. Raven had thrown yogurt on a classmate, resulting in a suspension. Little did anyone know, this incident would lead to an extraordinary journey of compassion and support.

"I found myself in the principal's office one day after starting a food fight in the cafeteria," Raven said. "The principal asked me if I would start a food fight if I were out to dinner with my family. When I blurted out that I did not have a family, he said he felt like a complete jerk. I was a foster kid living at Holly Hill. That conversation led him to have a conversation with his wife and the rest is history."

Driven by empathy, Smith went home and discussed the situation with his wife, Marybeth. After thoughtful consideration, the couple decided to open their hearts and home to Raven, welcoming her into their family as foster parents.

"He and my mom went through training and became certified to be foster parents through DCCH Center with the intention of fostering me. They could not have kids of their own and something I said that day led them to know in their hearts that I was what their family needed," Raven said. "My mom says she always questioned why she could not have kids until the day she met me."

Raven moved in with the Smiths in June 2015. On Nov. 3, 2017, the Smiths formally adopted Raven, by then a high school freshman.

Currently, Raven is a a junior at the University of Kentucky and is studying to be a social worker.

"If you had told 11-year-old me that I would be a junior in college, she would have laughed you off the planet. Being in foster care completely changed my life," Raven wrote in an essay. "Being fostered by a great set of parents did not erase my trauma, but they provided me with an atmosphere where I learned how to work through it, believe in myself, and give hope to a hopeless kid."

"I really believe there are no bad children," Jason Smith told GMA. "Children are a product of their environment and the people who raise them, or who don't raise them unfortunately, so given the right opportunity, given the proper support, love and affection, all children can be successful."

Watch the video below.

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