A new superintendent has been named in Flossmoor School District 161.
Dana Smith’s appointment to the district’s top executive position was announced at Monday’s board of education meeting. Smith will assume his new role July 1.
According to a statement issued by the board, Smith is currently the assistant superintendent for early childhood and elementary education in Woodstock Community Unit School District 200, where he is responsible for elementary curriculum and instruction at the district’s seven elementary schools.
In a statement to the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, Smith said, “I am thrilled to be selected as the next superintendent of Flossmoor School District 161. The opportunity to serve the students, staff members, and families of our school community is a commitment that I take very seriously and I hope to build upon the great work that is already happening.
“I am thankful to the Board of Education for its incredible support and I am eager to get started.”
Board President Stephen Paredes said Smith “brings a great deal of curricular depth to our district and will be a great fit with our administrative team.”
“Most of all, I am looking forward to the energy he will bring in driving forward the mission and vision of School District 161,” Paredes said. “I know our district families will join me in extending a warm welcome to Dr. Smith and wish him every success as he embarks on this new journey.”
“The school board recognizes that one of our most important functions is to hire the most qualified individual we can to lead our district,” said board member Michelle Hoereth. “We are excited about Dr. Smith and what he will bring to our learning community. He is a strong leader who is not only a visionary, but has the ability to implement those visions. Dr. Smith is an educator with the skills, intellect and the collaborative nature to move our district forward. He is an excellent addition to our district and we look forward to getting him started.”
Former Superintendent Craig Doster served for six years before the board approved a separation agreement with him last November. His contractual relationship with the district ended Dec. 31.
Michael Popp has served as interim superintendent since late last year.
In November, the board retained BWP and Associates to conduct a national search for a new superintendent. The board used the input BWP gathered from community surveys, focus groups and interviews to develop a set of criteria used to identify potential candidates.
After this search process yielded several candidates, the board selected Smith to lead the district.
“We had a very exhaustive process,” said Lisa Harrell, board secretary. “We got BWP to provide not only excellent candidates but to conduct interviews and surveys with the community to find out what they were looking for. Dr. Smith has a strong collaborative leadership style with a history of really being able to work with staff, parents and the community. I am really glad he will bring this to us.”
“I have never been more proud of this board than during this process,” Paredes stated. “I saw everybody give everything they had to be sure we have the best leadership we can. This board distinguished itself by putting the kids first.”
Paredes added, “We are on our way. Things in our district are lining up so well and now we have someone who will move us forward.”
Smith began his career in education as a classroom teacher in third through sixth grades. Over the course of his administrative career, he has also been an assistant principal, principal and director of teaching and learning.
Smith was raised in Park Forest and is a graduate of Marian Catholic High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree in educational studies from Illinois Wesleyan University, a master’s in educational leadership and administration from North Central College and a doctorate of education from DePaul University.
According to the board’s statement, “Once the terms of the contract are tentatively agreed, the Open Meetings Act requires a six-day posting of certain information before the contract can be formally approved. At the end of the posting period, a special board meeting to approve the contract and a reception to introduce Dr. Smith to the 161 family will be held. The time and date of those events will be shared as soon as possible.”