Principals take district jobs

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Two local principals have decided to leave their posts in order to take positions with the district.

Gary Kidwell, principal of Shelby County High School, and Lisa Smith, principal of Painted Stone Elementary, have been hired to fill two vacant positions on the central office staff.

Kidwell has been hired as the director of Student Accounting and Support Services - the position that was formerly held by James Neihof before he was hired as superintendent.

Smith has been hired as the new director of Student Programs and Services. That position was vacated by Sara Monarch, who will retire on Friday.

In a press release, Neihof said he is looking forward to working with a "dream team" of district administrators.

"I was looking for district leaders with character, integrity, work ethics and a commitment to putting students first. Each meets all those categories," he said.


Neihof said with Kidwell's experience and understanding of the community, he is a valuable asset to the district.

Kidwell has been at SCHS for 20 years, first as a teacher and assistant basketball coach, and later as an assistant principal and then principal.

During his time at SCHS, Kidwell said his favorite memories were developing relationships with students and making a difference in their lives.

Kidwell will be responsible for overseeing student transportation and other areas that relate to supporting student achievement.

He said he is excited about his new position where he can have an impact on the quality of education of all the students across the district.

In the press release, Kidwell said he expects to work well under Neihof.

"Neihof's vision fits well with my personality of wanting to remove barriers to learning for students, so this will be a great transition," he said.

Kidwell said the time was right for the change.

"I think the change will be good for me and for the high school," he said. "Sometimes change is good, and I think that this will be good for everybody."

During Kidwell's five years as principal, Neihof was an assistant principal under him for two years. While Kidwell's contract agreement has not yet been made public, it is likely that his salary will be higher than his predicessor. As SCHS's principal, Kidwell earned $113,144 a year. Last year as director of Student Accounting Support Services, Neihof made $89,683.


Before serving the last six years as Principal at Painted Stone, Smith had been a member of the central office staff as the district's elementary curriculum coordinator. When the district opened Painted Stone in 2002, Smith was hired to lead the school.

In a press release, Neihof said during her time in the district, Smith has proven her worth.

"She took on the daunting task of opening a brand new school, established a culture, developed relationships and built capacity for teacher leaders," he said.

Neihof believes her experiences as a classroom teacher in Franklin County where she was Teacher of the Year as well as the Painted Stone principal have prepared for her new job at central office. In her new role, Smith will oversee some instructional support services as well as the Family Resource and Youth Services Center programs.

Smith said she is "proud to be joining the district family where we all have a strong sense of pride about all schools, all employees, and all students."

In her previous position, Smith emphasized attendance to her students. In a press release, Smith said this is something she hopes to promote across the district in her new role.

"It is very important to be in school because of the classroom instruction that is going on. Without that connection to learning, students cannot make the progress that is needed to be successful. Consistent classroom instruction with a direct focus on content can show academic growth for each child," she said.

In order to fill the two principals roles, Neihof will meet with both schools' School-Based Decision-Making Councils to start the principal selection process. If a new principal has not been determined by August 1, the councils can ask for the superintendent to approve an interim position.

Neihof does not see any issues with transition for the students or staff because of the quality leadership that both Kidwell and Smith provided for their schools.