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Athletic director, principal, coach Tony Smith 'super dedicated' in small district

PMG FILE PHOTO - Tony Smith grew up in St. Paul and has spent the past 13 years of his 27-year teaching career within the school district, serving as football coach, athletic director and high/middle school principal.Working within the St. Paul School District, there's not a lot that Tony Smith doesn't do.

At a 1A district that hovers around 100 students enrolled at the high school, Smith doubles as both middle school principal and high school principal, as well as serving as athletic director and head football coach.

But there's so much more to what Smith brings to the table at St. Paul: serving as community liaison, student mentor, faculty leader and many other roles that brought him recognition as the 2019 Administrator of the Year.

Smith was recognized for his efforts at the Oregon Small Schools Association's (OSSA) annual Confederation of Oregon School Administrators Conference in Seaside on June 20. He was honored as a longtime teacher, administrator and coach for his dedication to making St. Paul consistently among the top small school districts in the state.

"He is just a super dedicated individual, and he wants to do right by kids and the community," St. Paul Superintendent Joe Wehrli said. "I have a lot of respect for Tony and the work that he's done."

Smith, who grew up in St. Paul, has spent 13 years with the school district. During that time, the high school graduation rate has remained strong at 95 to 100 percent, and student participation in athletics and activities hovers at around 90 percent. According Wehrli, the district's at-risk student populations have maintained strong graduation rates and scholarship acquisition as well.

During his career Smith has led the middle/high school through one-to-one implementation of technology for fourth- through 12th-grades. He also provided design recommendations and supervised the renovation and seismic retrofitting of the high school gym and locker rooms, the remodeling of the elementary school and construction of a new gym. During Smith's tenure, the district added a girls' softball program and facilities, an additional practice field and a varsity baseball field.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Tony Smith"Tony is an effective motivator and has set a standard of commitment to student success that all administrators can aspire to. He is outgoing, compassionate and has a seemingly endless tool kit when it comes to motivating students and connecting with families," said Wehrli. "Whether in the classroom or on the athletic field, Tony motivates others to excel in all aspects of their lives."

Smith is perhaps best known among the community for his commitment to athletics. In addition to his work on the sidelines as the head varsity football coach, Smith is visible at nearly every sporting event the Buckaroos host, and travels near and far for games.

Wehrli sees a direct correlation between Smith's leadership on the football field and his work with parents and faculty members as he helps build a cohesive unity among the community that puts the school district at the center of St. Paul.

"I think his experience in coaching has served him very well as a leader both in our middle/high school and in our community," Wehrli said. "As an instructional leader, he's very collaborative. He meets with staff on a regular basis. They act as a team."

The recognition as 2019 Administrator of the Year seems fitting for Smith in his outgoing year as principal of the middle school and high school. Smith will turn the reins of the position for the 2019-20 school year over to Patrick Schrader, who most recently served as assistant principal at McKay High School in Salem from 2014 to 2019.

Smith will retain his roles as athletic director and football coach moving forward and will forever be a part of the St. Paul community.

"His personal knowledge of the community history and the families is a really significant part of the work that we do," Wehrli said. "I'm really going to miss that, because he knows the family histories. He knows the kids that we should be very watchful over. He just does a great job in connecting with the community and being a part of that community."

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