And even though it’s the same office, Miami Springs High School is much different than when he left it, when school enrollment was busting at 3,400.
But then came the opening of Ronald Reagan and Westland Hialeah high schools and the landscape of MSSH changed dramatically. Now, just about 1,800 kids, roughly half of what it was back in ’06, occupy the halls.
“It’s certainly a different dynamic now with half the kids we had before,” Smith said. “But what really impressed me is that 85 percent of the teachers that were here when I left are still here now and that to me speaks volumes about this school and the dedication of this staff.”
Smith has been on the ladder of success ever since graduating from Columbus High School in 1986.
After attending Miami-Dade Community College for a couple of years, he went on to graduate from the University of Florida in 1992 before obtaining his Master’s in special education from Nova Southeastern University in 1993.
He entered the Miami-Dade County school system as an ESE (exceptional student education) teacher for four years at Southwest Senior High School before moving on to Palmetto Senior for one year.
He then took his first administrative job as an assistant principal at Kinlock Middle School for two years before moving on to Felix Varela Senior High in the same capacity for the next three years. In September 2003, he landed his first gig as principal when he took over the reins at Ruben Dario Middle School.
In 2005, he arrived at MSSH replacing Doug Rodriguez, who was widely credited with “saving a sinking ship” when he took over Springs three years earlier.
Now, after Rafael Villalobos (2006 to 2008) and Tom Ennis (2008 to 2011) sat in the chair after he left, Smith will be filling the vacant seat left by Anna Rodriguez, who in just two short years since taking over in October 2011, raised Springs High School to never-before-achieved A-school status.
And, just like eight years ago when he stepped into the office, Smith once again will have a big act to follow.
“Just like the last time I arrived, I’m following in the footsteps of a quality individual,” Smith said. “Anna (Rodriguez) did an outstanding job with this school raising it to A status and establishing the Cambridge program, among many things. I want to come in here and continue to build on that momentum.”