Michael E. Smith was Superintendent of schools in 2000.
Superintendent of Schools Michael E. Smith died on
February 10, 2001 while on a trip to Boston.
Mike touched all our lives deeply in so many ways. He shared his vast knowledge of education in a true effort to improve the South Hadley Public Schools, gave freely of his time and energy to every committee and project that needed
attention, and made a total commitment to the citizens of South Hadley who meant the most, our children. Mike
never forgot his roots as a teacher and all of us became his eager students. He reached out warmly to school staff and
members of our community and made everyone feel that their individual contribution was important.
His accomplishments over eighteen months are the sole content of this annual report. On July 5, 1999 Mike Smith came home to South Hadley
and took over the helm of the South Hadley Public Schools.
Mike quickly assessed the strengths and weaknesses of this school district and made recommendations for change. He took immediate control
of school finances to protect taxpayer dollars, reworked the current budget to be sure that every dollar improved
education and wrote a new budget process to insure accountability for school funds. Mike also worked closely
with the School Sites and Building Committee, becoming the guiding hand for our twenty-eight million dollar
building additions and renovations project. His eye for detail was much appreciated. Within six months Mike
reorganized the central office into a modern functioning team and implemented new policies and procedures for special education.
He recognized talent amongst our staff and offered encouragement and training as we moved
forward to turn our schools around From day one, he reached out to our teachers seeking a partnership for improvement.
He launched a complete review and restructuring of district-wide curriculum and established a
Professional Development Academy for staff. His regular visits to the classroom became well known with always a
note left in a teacher's mailbox, "job well done".
In eighteen months Mike earned the respect and admiration of everyone in our schools and in our community. He asked staff to work harder and asked students to take more responsibility for learning. Momentum was building; the South Hadley Public Schools were coming alive once
again. After a lengthy and articulate presentation of the needs of the schools at Town Meeting in May, a community responded by endorsing the superintendent's
budget. The vote was unanimous. Of all the accomplishments, Mike was most proud of his Plan for Excellence, which will now serve as a blueprint for future
progress. This document is the cornerstone of his tenure and is his legacy. On February 14, 2001 a long funeral procession wound
through the streets of South Hadley Falls to Saint Patrick's Church.
Family, friends and colleagues all came to remember a decent man who gave so much but was with
us for too short a time. Mike would want us to have happy memories, to remember happy times and laughing times
and he surely would want the morning sun to warm our hearts and dry our tears. Mike's favorite word was
"accountable" and he reserved the highest standards for himself. Mike also had his priorities straight, his love of
God and family came first, everything else came next. And in the end, in the presence of all who loved him, the
angels gathered around to bear witness to our final words, "Thanks Mike, and until we meet again, farewell."
Source: Annual Report of the Officers of the Town of South Hadley Massachusetts for the Year Ending 2002