He’s not the first Dave Smith to serve as superintendent of the Newport School District.
Smith, 42, has left his position as principal of Freeman High School to become the new superintendent in Newport. His father, also Dave Smith, held that position for a number of years before he went on to become superintendent of West Valley School District in Spokane.
“When I got this job he was pretty excited,” the younger Smith said.
He came to Freeman schools in 2002. He had been a special education teacher at Horizon Middle School in the Central Valley School District, which then had an agreement with Freeman schools to collaborate on special education. When Freeman took over teaching its own special education students, the superintendent asked Smith to come to Freeman Elementary as the special education director and to work with third-graders.
About halfway through that school year, he took over as the elementary’s principal and maintained his position as special education director. Four years later, he became principal of the high school.
“That last graduating class were my third-graders,” Smith said of the class that just graduated in June.
Freeman is a special place to Smith. He said discipline was never a problem. With 300 students in the high school, he was able to get to know all of them and their parents. He said it’s a close-knit staff, one that asked him every year if he would move on to bigger and better things, once he earned his superintendent certificate from Washington State University.
He always said no, until the job in Newport became available.
“It was pretty much a no-brainer,” he said. He grew up in Newport and graduated from Newport High School while his father worked as superintendent.
“I spent every waking minute at schools,” he said of growing up the son of a superintendent.
After he graduated from high school, he joined the Navy, working in the medical field. He thought about going into medicine, but realized he had a passion for education.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Whitworth University and his master’s degree and principal certificate at WSU.
He’s working on his doctorate in education leadership from WSU as well, although he has stepped back from researching his dissertation while he settles into his new job.
“We’re really proud of Dave,” said Freeman Superintendent Randy Russell.
Smith said he found out about his new job on a Wednesday. He turned his letter of resignation in to the school board, which accepted it the next day. He was in Newport the following Monday, July 8.
He had known he was up for the position at the end of the school year, but decided to keep the opportunity under wraps until he knew for sure if he would leave.
“I went out on a quiet note,” he said.
Smith and his family are now in the process of moving to Newport and catching up with old friends in his hometown. Their Freeman home is up for sale.
“It’s been really fun coming back into the community,” he said. He recently attended an all-class reunion in Newport and said it added something special to say he grew up with them in Newport when he introduced himself as the new superintendent.
He said he will miss Freeman. He said the new facilities on campus are wonderful and there is a feeling that it is a special place, with a low-turnover rate among staff and students he watched grow from children to adults.
“They’ve got great things going on in Freeman,” Smith said.