Smalling named WCS Principal of the Year
by Allison Haver
Mary Smalling, principal at
Hardin Park School, has been named Watauga County Schools Principal of the Year
Her selection was announced
in a surprise visit to Hardin Park Thursday morning by WCS interim superintendent
David Fonseca, Human Resources Director Stephen Martin, and other
representatives of the Watauga County Schools central office.
Several hundred students who had gathered in the gymnasium for the occasion
clapped and screamed their
approval as the announcement was made.
According to WCS
Public Information Director Marshall Ashcraft the surprise announcement is
usually made in the school office but several teachers gathered their classes
together to congratulate Smalling.
Smalling responded to the
honor by telling the assembled students and school personnel "the reason I am
Principal of the Year is because of you guys.
It's the students and staff that I work with every day at Hardin Park
that make this such a great school. We
have a wonderful community as well, and I am truly grateful for their support."
Fonseca congratulated Smalling on her award and praised her leadership at Hardin Park.
"Mary Smalling is truly an
outstanding principal. She is always committed to making the school more
effective and more welcoming for all its students. She brings out the the best in her personnel
with her respectful and inclusive leadership, and she never wavers in her focus
on what is best for the children she serves," Fonseca said.
The Principal of the Year is
chosen by a confidential vote of the nine school principals in the Watauga
County Schools system.
Smalling said she is grateful to her fellow
principals for her selection as Principal of the Year.
As Principal of the Year, Smalling will receive an award payment of $500 from the Watauga County Schools.
becomes a candidate for additional honors as Regional Principal of the Year in
North Carolina's Northwest Region and possibly for NC Principal of the
Smalling has been principal at Hardin Park for 14 years and previously served as an assistant principal at Hardin Park and at Watauga High School. This is the second time she has been named Principal of the Year, having also received the honor in 2005-06.
Her educational background
includes a Bachelor of Science in Art Education and a Masters in School
Administration, both from Appalachian State University.
She has maintained a strong commitment to
professional growth during her career, winning a Fulbright Administrator
Exchange Grant in 2008, and completing the Distinguished Leadership Program
(DLP), a year-long leadership development program for school principals, just
is an advocate for bringing a global perspective to education. During her tenure at Hardin Park, she
developed a Polish/American Teacher Exchange Program, worked with a
Mexican/American Teacher Exchange Program, and has served on Appalachian State
University's International Outreach Committee.
Along with 2013-14 Principal of the Year Toby Cone, she was part of a
national contingent of principals that helped construct a school building in
the Dominican Republic two years ago, and she worked with educators in
Argentina in connection with her Fulbright Grant in 2008.
Most recently, Smalling traveled to Pakistan
last year as part of an exchange program between the Watauga County Schools and
schools in Taxila, Pakistan. Hardin Park
participated in the American/Pakistan exchange program again this year.
also recognized for her commitment to serving students in the exceptional
children program. Hardin Park serves the Watauga County Schools students with
the most severe disabilities, and Smalling has helped lead the school's efforts
to fund a more inclusive playground, a long term effort that raised nearly
$100,000 so far.
Park School is the largest of the eight elementary/middle schools in the WCS
system, serving approximately 775 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth
grade. The school met all 21 federal and
34 state targets for academic performance in 2012-13.
Hardin Park students also substantially exceeded state averages in their performance on all state tests of academic proficiency for 2012-13.