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Lincoln Intermediate gets a new leader

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of stories introducing new faces in the Farmington R-7 School District

When Lincoln Intermediate students return to school on Aug. 16, many will find themselves in a new building, surrounded by new classmates.

They won’t be the only ones who will be starting anew. Welcoming each student as they come to the front door on the first day will be Dr. Stacie Smith, the school’s new principal.

“I fell in love with Farmington about four years ago,” Smith said. “It’s actually where I had my first date with my husband. I love the small town feel and the sense of community.

“When I lived in De Soto and was working for its school district, I used to hang out a lot in Farmington, and in the back of my mind, I always thought if there would ever being an opening in the Farmington School District, I would apply for it. I knew it was a good and progressive (district).”

As fate would have it, the district posted three administrator positions last spring – for Farmington Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School and Lincoln.

“When I was looking for a position, I saw there was a listing for a principal in Farmington,” Smith said. “Actually there wasn’t one position, there wasn’t two positions, there were three positions. I was like, ‘this is a sign.’ I love Farmington, so I had to apply to all three.”

The journey to Lincoln Intermediate was filled with some twists and turns before Smith stopped at Lincoln’s front door.

Originally from Akron, Ohio, Smith came to Missouri for college and never left.

“I came to St. Louis to attend St. Louis University for my undergraduate degree, and I never left,” Smith said. “I attended Lindenwood University for my Masters in Education and Maryville for my Ph.D. in administration.”

Although Smith has been in the education for 19 years, she wasn’t always a principal. For eight years, she was a classroom teacher – actually starting her career teaching fifth grade.

“I taught fifth grade for five years and then was recruited to teach at a middle school where I taught eighth grade science,” Smith said. “I will never forget my first day. I was so scared. I had planning period the first period, so I looked out the window. My students were as big as me. I remember being terrified.”

As Smith began teaching her new charges, she realized she really wasn’t doing anything different than what she did as a fifth-grade teacher. In fact, she realized her students’ needs were basically the same.

“I have to come to learn in my 19-year career, older students are basically the same as younger students, just in bigger bodies,” Smith said. “They still need the same structure, the same recognition, the same relationship and the same positive praise.”

After eight years in the classroom, Smith made her first jump into administration when she accepted an assistant principal position at Festus Middle School, but she wouldn’t stay in that position for long.

“My principal left to go work at another school district,” Smith said. “So, I was hired in the spring of my first year to be the new principal…so it was kind of a whirlwind.”

Since beginning her career in administration, Smith has made some changes. For four years, she was the curriculum director for the De Soto School District, a position she thought was going to be her dream job.

“I really wasn’t done being a principal, but here was my dream job, being a curriculum director at the central office,” Smith said. “It was a great job, but I just missed the kids terribly. It was too much adult and not enough child for me.”

Realizing she was better suited to be at school, Smith left De Soto and took a position with the Webster Groves School District as the principal of Hixson Middle School.

But the call of a smaller town – where the school district was both progressive and the community still had a hometown feel – called Smith back to Farmington.

“I don’t want to live without that hometown feel,” Smith said. “I was looking to move back to the area, I was looking for a school district that was progressive but also for a community that was close knit where you know the kids, you see them at the store. I wanted to be able to build relationships and that is what Farmington School District offered.”

As a new school year is dawning, Smith said she is looking forward to building relationships with her staff, the community and her students.

“I had a great opportunity to be here a lot last May,” Smith said. “I got to hang out with some of the fifth graders, participate in a staff meeting and hold one of my own. I am fortunate to have a new assistant principal, Matt Boyer, who is new as an administrator but not new to the district – coming over from Roosevelt. I think we are going to have an extremely exciting year.”

When students at Lincoln Intermediate arrive on the first day of school, they will be met by a new face. Dr. Stacie Smith begins a new era in the school's history as she begins her tenure as principal.  

When students at Lincoln Intermediate arrive on the first day of school, they will be met by a new face. Dr. Stacie Smith begins a new era in the school’s history as she begins her tenure as principal.  

Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at cvaughn@farmingtonpressonline.com.

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