North Principal Named Executive Director of Learning Services and Student Activities for DMPS

The principal of North High School will take on new district-wide responsibilities starting with the 2013-14 school year. Matt Smith will become the Executive Director of Learning Services and Student Activities for Des Moines Public Schools effective July 1.

“Matt’s leadership at North High is recognized across the state and nation for effectively putting the school back on the path to success,” said Superintendent Tom Ahart. “We are fortunate that his experience and expertise will now be put to work on behalf of our entire school district.”

Smith’s new position will be responsible for two areas. First, to administer, plan, implement, and evaluate a PreK-12 program to identify and respond to the needs of students at risk of not graduating high school. Second, to oversee the successful administration and implementation of comprehensive extra- and co-curricular activities for students in grades 6-12 throughout the district.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to work throughout the district to help every student succeed in school and graduate from high school,” said Smith. “Des Moines Public Schools is seeing success at many different levels and I look forward to helping continue that trend.”

Smith is a native of Houston, TX and began his career in education with the Aldine Independent School District in Texas. He was also a secondary school principal in the Livingston and San Angelo school districts before becoming the principal of North High in 2010. Smith has a BS in secondary education from Baylor University and a M.Ed in educational leaders from Sam Houston University.

During Smith’s tenure at North High, students made academic gains in several areas including an increase in proficiency and an increase in the graduation rate, and for the first time ever North was ranked as a Top 50 school (28th) on the Iowa  AP Index. He also oversaw the school’s implementation of a 1:1 technology program, making North High the largest school in Iowa where each student was provided with a laptop computer. North High has recently been selected as one of the College Board’s “Spotlight on Schools” for their efforts in increasing Advanced Placement courses, and has also just been named by the U.S. Department of Education as a “School of Focus” for its innovative use of School Improvement Grant funds for professional development.

A search for a new principal at North High School is underway. Parents, students and staff have already been provided a survey seeking their input. After an initial screening of applicants, interviews will be conducted by district administrators and principal team. Finalists will then do a three-part interview at North consisting of a tour and questions by students, as well as interviews with staff and parent representatives. A final interview will be conducted by the Superintendent prior to his selection and approval by the School Board.