It was seven years ago but Ed Smith remembers the moment like it was yesterday. He was just coming to the end of his first year as principal at Miami Springs Senior High School when it hit him.
“I was stopped at that busy intersection at Northwest 72nd Avenue and 36th Street sitting in traffic when I had this sudden revelation,” he said. “It hit me like a truck coming straight at me. I had three young kids and I just wasn’t spending the time with them that I needed to be.”
That thought, along with a possible job opening with a private company, prompted Smith to send word to his superiors at Miami-Dade County Public Schools that he was “out of the high school principal business” and would be moving on to private business.
Flash forward to just this past May and word quickly got out that Anna Rodriguez was — as many principals, whether it be on the elementary, middle or high school level usually do — moving to another position in the school system.
Soon after, her replacement was named. And now Ed Smith is back in the same office he occupied during the 2005-06 school year — at Miami Springs Senior High School.
“A lot of people don’t understand that, between so many meetings and other obligations, being a high school principal can really dominate so much of your time, even after the regular school hours,” Smith said. “Maybe some people didn’t understand but I loved what I did and absolutely fell in love with Miami Springs High School. But earlier that day I had had a 40-minute meeting with a parent about one of their kids and it just got me to thinking about my role as a father. I just decided that, with my kids at a young age (two girls and a boy in first, third and sixth grades) that it was time to spend more time with them and that wasn’t going to happen if I continued to be a principal.”
So after one school year at MSSH, off he went into the sunset. Smith had gotten an offer from McGraw-Hill Education Company (primarily dealing with publishing textbooks for the educational system) as a senior sales rep for Southeast Florida. He took the job without looking back.
“There was so much more flexibility with the new job that it allowed me so much more time to spend with my family and I had no regrets over the move,” Smith said. “But I never lost the urge to want to get back into the educational system. I always made sure that I kept up my certification through the years in case I might someday get back into it.”
Last April, with his kids much more grown up now and “the itch” still there, Smith talked to his wife about getting back to his old craft of running schools. Soon after he was sending the necessary paperwork to MDCPS (Miami-Dade County Public Schools) officials.
Smith eventually got the phone call he was hoping for. But not only would he be returning to the school system as a principal, he got something else he could never have imagined.
“I almost dropped the phone when my district supe (supervisor) called me to let me know the school I was being assigned to,” Smith said. “All I knew is that I would get a school. I never indicated in any way where I would prefer to be placed and here I was headed right back to where I finished. It was surreal. I couldn’t have been more excited then or more excited than I am right now to be back in my old office again.”