WATCH NOW: Jared Smith appointed new Superintendent of Waterloo Schools | Education News

Jared Smith appointed Superintendent of Waterloo Schools

WATERLOO — Jared Smith, former vice-principal of East High, has been named the next superintendent of Waterloo Community Schools.

His hiring will become official upon approval at the February 14 regular meeting of the Board of Education.

Smith, 39, grew up in Waterloo and has served as superintendent since 2018 of South Tama County Community Schools, which has about 1,500 students. The district’s ethnic and racial diversity is similar to that of Waterloo Schools’ 10,100 students.


“I am thrilled to return home once again to lead your incredible school district,” he said in a video posted Monday by Waterloo Schools. “Whether you are an employee, student, parent or community member, know that I will take the time to listen and understand your perspective so that we can create an incredible learning experience for our children. “

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Smith to our district community as our next superintendent,” Board Chair Sue Flynn said in a press release. “Dr. Smith has proven himself to be an ambitious and passionate educational leader who is focused on engaging with families, recruiting exceptional teachers and staff, and fostering communities of care for students. He is also a thought leader in (of) education, and someone other school leaders turn to for advice and expertise.”

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According to the press release, at South Tama County Schools, Smith focused on creating positive work environments for employees, which resulted in an increase in staff culture and climate scores four. years in a row. He is also the author of a book, has written a number of articles and has given several presentations on various issues related to educational leadership.

Additionally, Smith has helped make South Tama one of the best districts in the state for community engagement through social media.

“We’re actually tracking our metrics,” he told The Courier in an interview last week. Compared to state school systems, “we’re consistently at or near the top of every major district” when it comes to the number of people viewing his social media posts. “We are relentless in sharing our story.

“Waterloo is doing a really good job of that,” he added. “It’s definitely something I would continue to monitor and take to another level if possible.”

“We look forward to seeing the positive impact he will have on Waterloo Community Schools in the future,” Flynn said in the press release. “We really feel like he will be a champion for our district.”

Smith was one of four finalists vying to lead the district. Others included Darren Hanna, Superintendent of Emmetsburg Community Schools; Stephanie Jones, Chicago Public Schools Director in the Office of Various Learner Services and Supports; and Amy Kortemeyer, assistant superintendent of educational services at Iowa City Community Schools.

Leading a similar, but smaller, school district prepared as a finalist for the role of Superintendent of Waterloo

Under Smith’s leadership, South Tama achieved Iowa’s second-best four-year graduation rate for districts with a minority population of 40 percent or more, according to the news release. The district has also been recognized by several state and national organizations for its innovative educational practices and has created eight new staff positions to focus on students’ socio-emotional needs in recent years.

In South Tama and Waterloo, white students are the largest enrolled group, but they do not constitute the majority, according to online data from the Iowa Department of Education.

South Tama, with 53.7% non-white students, had a graduation rate of 90.91% in 2020, 91.5% in 2019 and 95.12% in 2018. Waterloo graduated 85.77% of its seniors in 2020, 82.91% in 2019, and 84.24% in 2018 Students who are non-white make up 55.5% of district enrollment.

Smith graduated in 2000 from Waterloo West High School. He previously served as Principal of Muscatine High School after his time at East High School from 2012 to 2016.

He began his career in 2004 as a teacher in Sarasota, Florida, then taught in public schools in Chicago. Smith returned to Iowa in 2008, working as an administrator for Fort Dodge Community Schools.

He holds a doctorate in instructional leadership from Iowa State University, a master’s degree in instructional leadership from National Louis University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.

“Having lived in Waterloo for most of my life, I am very motivated to see our students succeed,” Smith said in the video. “I love when I see Waterloo students thriving in the classroom, on the pitch, on stage and in life.”

In his candidacy comments included in the press release, Smith wrote: “Like many Waterloo students, I didn’t have it easy growing up, and I find great motivation in leading a school system where the he main goal is to help students overcome unique challenges, and I’m also driven to make Waterloo Community Schools a wonderful place for employees.

“We have placed great importance on the culture and climate of South Tama County, and we are committed to ensuring that our employees enjoy coming to work,” he added. “The idea that I can bring that same energy and enthusiasm around workplace morale to Waterloo is a very exciting idea and a challenge that gets me up in the morning.”

The council worked with Grundmeyer Leader Services of Ankeny to lead the search for the next superintendent. The process included a community-wide survey, asking residents of the district for their opinions on the qualities and characteristics they would like to see in the new district leader. The search consultants also held focus group meetings to establish desired qualifications for the position.

The board conducted a first round of interviews on January 19. The final talks were on Thursday, when the board offered a contract offer to a candidate who was not named at the time.

The contract takes effect July 1, when current superintendent Jane Lindaman retires.

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