Darin Smith - alumnus, parent and current AP - chosen as Coronado principalThe second time applying proved to be the charm for Darin Smith, whose choice as Coronado High Principal was announced after school in the auditorium April 29.
John Keane, a District 11 administrator who coordinated the semester-long selection process, praised Smith - a Coronado assistant principal since 2010 and teacher there for five years before that - as having the “leadership qualities to take the school in the right direction.”
Smith, who had been in on the secret, told the group he had “put together a speech,” then said he was joking. “I wouldn't do that to you.”
His comments wound up lasting about two minutes, in which he said he was “wholeheartedly pleased” to be chosen and even though “I'm going to lose my summer” preparing for his new role, he is fine with that.
In a document that had accompanied his candidacy for principal, he'd listed his top three goals as increasing student test scores with the help of “personalized learning techniques,” building community involvement and getting more students involved in athletics, clubs and groups. Interviewed April 29, Smith added another goal, which is for the school to become more responsive to socio-economic changes over the past 10 years that have increased Coronado's free/reduced lunch numbers by 20 percent.
A Coronado graduate and Pleasant Valley resident, Smith earned a master of arts (with an emphasis on educational learning) and a principal's license from UCCS. His teaching career began in Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8. He taught one year of middle school there, then four at Wasson High and four at Palmer before coming back to his alma mater nine years ago. Two of his children are graduating from Coronado this year, with another child who's an undergrad and a fourth at Holmes. He has described himself as “embedded in the community.”
Keane spoke highly of Marcia Landwehr, who is serving as principal this year (after nine years as a Coronado AP) and will then take her previously planned retirement. “She's done an admirable job moving the school forward,” he said. Landwehr was picked a year ago, after D-11 reassigned her predecessor, David Engstrom, to head up the new Wasson alternative-school complex.
District 11 started the hiring process for a 2014-15 Coronado principal in January, narrowing the field of candidates to five finalists, then letting them be interviewed by community, student and staff representatives in February. Smith was among the finalists.
However, Superintendent Nick Gledich said he was not satisfied with the results and readvertised the position in March. The same process was repeated, this time with six finalists (including Smith and another applicant for a second time) fielding questions from community, staff and students.
Personnel decisions are kept private, but Keane summarized that the process was “lengthy but fruitful” and provided “ample information for a decision.”
Smith's choice will be formalized by a vote of the D-11 Board of Education May 14. Keane said there is no chance of anything changing.
Westside Pioneer article