Christopher Smith is a native of Everett, MA, who received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Smith’s love for New England is a major part of why he moved to Readsboro from Chino Valley, AZ, where he taught high school English, served as an assistant principal over the past eight years, and earned his master’s degree. He believes the small community of RCS provides a great opportunity to become reacquainted with the area.
“Smaller schools and smaller communities always have a greater sense of community and togetherness,” said Smith. “That’s something I did not experience outside of New England, not in Los Angeles or in Arizona. Its particular to New England, and maybe it’s the cold that makes you have to come together, but its definitely important.”
This will be Smith’s first job as a principal, and while he intends to listen to his staff and make sure to not get in their way, he said he aims to have open and honest dialogue at every corner with staff, parents, and the school population.
“I’m going to be here, be accessible, and be part of the community,” said Smith. “I live in Readsboro, I’m invested in this, and I’m going to bring the real me, 100%. I feel like I’m accessible and if if I need to call a parent I will, and I hope if they have any concerns or comments they would come see me so I don’t hear it eighth-hand. My door is open to criticism and suggestions, and if there is a parent out there who knows how their child learns, I would like to hear from them. The important thing is the parent-teacher relationship.”
Also a top priority for Smith is establishing a good rapport with a teaching staff that he knows the student population is comfortable with and respects. “The teachers can expect that if they make mistakes I will confront them about it. And I don’t consider confront to be a bad word, or should have a negative connotation, because I expect that if I make a mistake a teacher will confront me. Communication is critical and should be constructive where you don’t bring complaints if you don’t have a solution.”
Smith believes he will be a resource for teachers who can come to him if they need to develop a new strategy, or believe a lesson can be taught using new technology. Smith believes that technology is a vital tool in education, especially in rural communities where the inability to access the Internet is prevalent. “Technology is giant in a small school like this,” said Smith. “There aren’t any more factory jobs, so if these kids are going to be able to thrive in a work environment without abandoning their home, they have to be tech-savvy. Right now we have a lot of the tools they need, and we need to show them how to use them properly and continue to get the maximum benefit out of what we have, and continue to identify the next level of technology they will need in the future. Technology allows us to bring in the good of other places without giving up what we have.”
Smith expects his students to want to learn and come to school prepared, and in return, he will provide them with an environment of fairness and consistency to thrive in. This includes safety.
“Bullying is a big deal to me,” said Smith. “You don’t learn anything if you don’t feel safe, and that is the bottom line. We need to make the school safe for students and teachers, so the goal of any discipline plan should be to focus on a plan for next time instead of a punishment for this time. Certainly there are consequences for negative behavior, there are consequences in real life, but we also need to come up with a plan for the student to work through why they act out a certain way and what they can do better next time.”
Smith believes RCS is set up for success and he is excited to have the opportunity to lead. “I think teaching the whole kid is important, you want them to feel comfortable and you want them to do their best. I was very excited when I met the teachers here. We talked some stuff out and looked at the work they’ve been doing, and for a small school we have phenomenal teachers.”