Smith takes helm at District 14Sep 9, 2013 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
With the new academic school year comes a new superintendent for Fremont County School District 14 on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
Superintendent Terry Smith will take over the position completely and apply the goals he envisions for the district beginning in 2014. Until then, he will continue to receive guidance from former superintendent Michelle Hoffman, who held the position for 27 years at the Wyoming Indian elementary, middle and high schools.
"This school district has had excellent leadership from the superintendent all the way down," Smith said. "I couldn't have asked for a better district. I feel very fortunate."
Smith said he wants to focus on student attendance, a working curriculum, improving test scores and dealing with funding shortfalls.
His background in education includes roughly 30 years of teaching and holidng other staff positions in the state of Washington with the Yakama Nation in Yakima School District 7 and at the Nez Perce Indian Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho.
There, Smith said, tribes showed love for their children and an appreciation for their culture. He said he learned to understand their view on
life and their primary concerns.
On the Wind River Indian Reservation, Smith said he already has seen how involved and supportive parents are of their children's education.
"Parents work close with the district," Smith said. "They're all about the kids."
To Smith, teaching students "what's in it for them" is what he said is key to convincing students that going to school and being successful is important. Smith said he is still learning the ropes of Wyoming's educational system.
Hoffman said Smith is doing well in the transition process, a process they both agreed was necessary to make sure the new superintendent fits in well, learns the history of the district, learns about the community and its culture and customs, and offers continuity for the district.
"She catches me up to speed," Smith said. "It's a team approach, so the transition is much, much easier."
Smith said he has appreciated the "wealth of knowledge" that Hoffman has shared with him, and it has helped him understand why things have been done the way they have in the past, what changes need to be made and what has worked and not worked for the schools.
Smith said he has experience working with several federal programs that help American Indians.
"Those components, I've had tremendous amount of experience with," Smith said.
Smith was born and raised in Yakima, Wash., and attended Central Washington University and Washington State University. He described himself as an "avid hunter and fisherman." He is a grandfather and recently became a great-grandfather. He lives on the reservation and said he hopes to continue meeting more staff and students in the coming weeks.