New Cave Spring Elementary assistant principal ready for challenge
CAVE SPRING–Whether whitewater kayaking, hiking a 24-mile loop with only her dog for company, or moving to a town 500 miles from anyone she knew, Kimberly Smith has always had a spirit for adventure. Taking on a new job as assistant principal of Cave Spring Elementary School, Smith is ready to put that bold streak into action once again.
Smith’s first, and possibly biggest, challenge was moving to Roanoke in the first place. Born and raised in upstate New York, Smith had no family or friends in Roanoke.
“I didn’t know anybody here,” Smith said. “It was an adventure.”
Smith moved to Roanoke right after graduate school. With a Masters degree in Special Education from Buffalo State, Smith was looking for a job as a special education teacher; most of the recruiters at the college were from Virginia and Maryland. She and her mother took a road trip to visit the areas she could one day call home, and after turning down a handful of towns and cities including Virginia Beach, Smith finally arrived in Roanoke. With mountains and the Appalachian Trail as a draw, Smith had finally found a place she could call home.
“Where I grew up looks a lot like Roanoke,” Smith said.
Her original plan in college was to become a school psychologist. One of her professors, however, encouraged her to merge her interests in children and psychology by working with children in special education.
“I saw kids who were struggling, and that’s where I decided to focus my efforts,” Smith said.
Smith began at William Byrd High School in 1995, and since then has taught at every level, from elementary to high school. While she has taught at schools in Vinton and Cave Spring, she has a special attachment to Bent Mountain Elementary School, which is only minutes from her home.
“It’s the first time I got to live and work in the same community,” Smith said about Bent Mountain Elementary. “I’d heard there would never be an opening, so when there was, I took it.”
Smith worked there for nine years, as Special Education Coordinator and fifth grade teacher. Her children, six-year-old Teegan and eight-year-old Abby, went to Bent Mountain Elementary, and the school was a second home for all three of them. Yet when Smith decided to pursue an assistant principal position, she knew she needed to broaden her horizons by moving to a larger school.
“Which was really, really hard, because I loved it [t]here,” Smith said about Bent Mountain.
Last fall, Smith moved to Hidden Valley Middle School to become Special Education Coordinator there.
This spring, when administrators decided to fill the Cave Spring Elementary School assistant principal position, which had been vacant for a year, there were at least 10 internal applications. Smith stood out because of her diverse teaching experiences, and her knowledge of students’ needs.
“The more experiences that you have, it makes you a well-rounded person,” Carol Whitaker, Assistant Supervisor for Personnel, said. “I think she will complement [Principal Jodi] Poff…and will do a really good job.”
Poff agrees. The two worked together at Bent Mountain Elementary School.
“[And] I am thrilled to work with Kim…again,” Poff said. “She brings a vibrant love for education and children that is contagious. Her experience as a top-notch educator will be an asset to Cave Spring Elementary. We are excited to have her.”
While the whitewater kayaking of her youth has been replaced by a more leisurely canoe, a husband, and two children, Smith is anticipating new challenges as she takes on a position as assistant principal and part-time fifth grade teacher at Cave Spring Elementary.
“It’s really exciting, because I’ve wanted that for a long time,” Smith said.
She first dreamed of becoming an assistant principal to help teachers.
“It’s hard now—you have so many different needs in a classroom,” Smith said. “And I really wanted to be in that support position.”
In August, Smith will finally have her chance to take on the role she has been working towards throughout her career. The rest of the summer, however, is devoted to her own children, with just a splash of adventure thrown in.