Faculty of the Month for December/January - Michael Navarra Smith

Please join the Faculty Senate Awards Committee in honoring Michael Navarr​a Smith as the December/January Faculty of the Month! Michael earned an MFA in Acting from the University of Washington and is a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actor's Equity Association. He first joined the Ohlone College Community as a part-time faculty in the Theatre and Dance department, and was hired fulltime as the Director of Theatre in 2011. Michael teaches acting and directing classes, and he also directs a myriad of award winning productions at the Smith Center for the Ohlone College Theatre and Dance department.  

Michael N Smith HeadshotDawn Harris Portrait

Before coming to Ohlone College, Michael taught acting around the bay area, including at Berkeley Rep School of Theatre, Theatre Works, San Francisco Acting Academy, Marin Shakespeare Company, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and other colleges. Michael brought these rich teaching and professional experiences to Ohlone College. According to one of his colleagues, “Michael is attentive, generous with his time, and prioritizes the best interest of the student’s experience and education. As a colleague he is well trusted, liked, respected, and has proven to be very substantial to the growth and depth of what we do/are in Ohlone’s TD department.”

Michael’s service to Ohlone College knows no bounds. Every year the Theatre and Dance Department spends countless hours preparing for and presenting major productions. The performances are always high caliber and earn rave reviews. The Reluctant Vampire, written for Ohlone College students by nationally recognized playwright Eugenie Chan, was such a success that it was bound for performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. All of these productions allow students, faculty, and community members to come together to create and share their talents with Michael leading the team.

In addition to his incredible departmental service, Michael shares his production talents to help put on the Ohlone College Student Awards Ceremony every May. He also serves on the GE Committee, the Equivalency Committee, and the Academic Appeals and Student Conduct Committee! His colleagues have nothing but high praise for him, noting ​"Michael is a dedicated, and passionate educator. He inspires his students to find the best within themselves, guiding them to embody the experience of their characters.”

Michael is an exceptional teacher. One former student remarked, “Michael is an exceptional teacher; gifted, patient and absolutely dedicated to bringing out the potential in all his students. He cultivates an atmosphere in the class where everyone feels safe, supported, and inspired.” One of the things that is most inspiring about Michael’s teaching is his commitment to equity and self-discovery for his students. He founded and produces the Ohlone College Playwrights Festival, which is a festival of world premieres from established and emerging playwrights. This allows Michael to bring in voices from playwrights of color and allows for students to see their own voices and experiences represented. 

This year Michael is directing and producing the Theatre and Dance Department's film production of PARRHESIA 2020: A Community of Voices, Identities and Diversity by Ohlone College students. This is an original work by Ohlone College students using Johnny Saldañas Ethnotheatre approach. The company interviewed dozens of people in the Fremont Community to better understand the impact of COVID-19 and societal injustices that have emerged this year. Students used these interviews to create their play turned film to share the varied perspectives of their community. Be certain to check it out in February 2021. It should be both moving and illuminating!

When Michael is not using his boundless energy to teach and share his production talents at Ohlone College, you can find him directing, producing, and acting in films, plays, and even video games. He also enjoys spending time with his friends and family. Michael is originally from Spain and goes back to visit family there whenever possible. He loves to travel to explore history, meet people, and climb ancient ruins. 

Please join us in congratulating Michael Navarra Smith for being the December/January Faculty of the Month!


The Faculty of the Month program seeks to honor faculty who have a history of making significant and continuing contributions to the College.

The selection is made by a subcommittee of the Faculty Senate. The award is given monthly (of course!) during the academic year.

Learn more about the Faculty of the Month program.