By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
GUNTOWN – After nearly 20 years as a leader at Mooreville and Shannon high schools, Robert Smith will close out his book at the end of the school year.
Smith, who has served as the Shannon High School principal for the past two years, made his retirement official at Tuesday’s Lee County School Board meeting at Guntown School.
“He’s got a big heart for kids,” said Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks. “His presence will be missed.”
In all, Smith has spent 32 years educating children. He served Mooreville High School as principal for 16 -years before he traded Trooper green for Raider red in 2010.
He’s worked with great teachers and staff members, but it’s the kids that kept him coming back year after year, he said. The most rewarding part has been helping struggling kids find their way to high school graduation.
“Kids will come up to you and say ‘I never would have finished school if not for you,’” Smith said.
Smith spent 12 years coaching football before stepping into school administration. He led high school teams in Bruce, Mooreville, Nettleton, Shannon and Houston, Texas. He also spent five years as the strength and conditioning coach at Mississippi State University. Under Smith’s leadership, Shannon raised its QDI from 143 to 170. That number is determined by student scores on state tests. During his time in Mooreville, he also improved that school’s academics and discipline.
Smith unsuccessfully ran for Lee County superintendent in the Republican primary in 2011.
In retirement, Smith said he plans to switch gears, but would like to continue helping children or serving the community in some capacity.
“I’m not ready to sit down yet,” said Smith. He and wife Carolyn, a Mooreville teacher, have two adult children. “I’m going to find a way to keep working with kids or helping people.”
There were no announcements Tuesday about Smith’s successor. Weeks have to fill a principal’s position at Mooreville High School, left by the retirement of Craig Cherry.