Huff Elementary School has a new principal. Heidi Smith will take over the position for the upcoming school year, officials with the Mountain View Whisman School District said.
Superintendent Craig Goldman broke the news at the MVWSD board meeting, May 17 -- one month to the day that the outgoing Sharon A. Burns announced she would be leaving Huff for Encinal Elementary School in Atherton.
Both Goldman and Smith expressed excitement at the announcement, with the superintendent calling Smith a "gem." Smith said she is eagerly anticipating applying her expertise in English language development at Huff, which had 151 English learners out of a total 533 students in 2011.
"I'm very excited to come out to Silicon Valley," Smith said by phone from New York, where she currently lives and works as a principal of an elementary school. "I'm really excited to meld my experiences from the East Coast with the technology and people in your area."
More than 60 candidates applied to the position, Goldman said.
"They were all excellent candidates, but Ms. Smith clearly stood out as the top choice," Goldman said.
Smith has worked in education for 14 years, with seven years of experience as an elementary school administrator, including five years as an assistant principal and two as principal. She comes to Mountain View from Uniondale, a small suburb of New York City, where she is finishing out her final days as principal of Northern Parkway School. She holds an bachelor's degree from Molloy College, a master's in writing instruction from Hofstra University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational and policy leadership from Hofstra.
The district didn't set out to hire someone from out of state, Goldman said. However, because Smith decided to apply to the position, Huff was able to "catch a gem."
Due to the way public school hiring cycles work (schools must deliver pink slips by March 15 to anyone being laid off in a given year), it is not uncommon for many of the most talented and experienced individuals seeking a teaching or administrative positions to be hired by mid-April, Goldman explained.
Smith is not a part of that cycle. She made the move to be with her fiance. The two plan to marry soon and settle down in the Bay Area.
"We were thrilled to death" to get Smith, Goldman said. "She is highly knowledgeable about all aspects of instructional leadership." All of Smith's colleagues from the East Coast that Goldman spoke with vouched for her. "She clearly had made her mark."
Smith said she is looking forward to helping Huff's population of English learners. English language development is one of her areas of expertise, and she has been officially recognized as a leader in the field by the New York State Education Commission.
Goldman said some might be concerned that Smith would want to return to New York within a few years. However, every indication he got from her seemed to point to her planning to stay in the Bay Area.
Smith said she has been won over by the moderate climate and what she referred to as the "friendly, receptive and warm ... California way."
"I'm really excited just to be able to introduce myself to the children, community and parents of Huff," she said. "I'm very excited to be a part of the Huff community, and I'm excited to make California my home."
Parents, school staff and the community at large is invited to meet Smith at a welcome gathering, which will be held June 4 at 8 a.m. at Huff.