It's been quite a spring for Derrick Smith.
In mid-April, he successfully defended a dissertation at Vanderbilt University on the influence of Advanced Placement coursework on students' college readiness.
A month later, he was named principal at Sandburg High School in Orland Park.
Smith, who was an associate principal at the school and a former student, was named as the school's boss May 17, at a special meeting of the Consolidated High School District 230 board. He replaces Jennifer Tyrrell, who accepted a job as principal at Lyons Township High School. He begins his new job July 1.
Smith took to Twitter for the first time since summer 2019 and expressed his gratitude:
"I am humbled, honored and excited to serve our students, staff and community at the next principal of Carl Sandburg High School. Let's do this!"
This latest move comes amid a shuffling of the deck in the district. Andrew Principal Robert Nolting will take over as 230 superintendent, replacing retiring James Gay. Assistant Principal Abir Othman will replace Nolting at the Tinley Park school.
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“Dr. Smith bleeds blue and gold — as a student, teacher, sponsor, coach and administrator,” Nolting said. “I believe it is very important to have a principal who is all in with the kids, parents and community. Derrick most certainly is. “Derrick is an incredibly brilliant individual who believes in the power of impacting students intellectually and emotionally. I know Derrick to be strong in conviction and collaborative in his approach to make positive change.”
School board President Tony Serratore gave a thumbs up to the hire.
“The school board looks forward to seeing Dr. Smith’s passion for student achievement and connection shine in his new role at Sandburg,” he said.
After Smith left the Orland Park campus as a student, he received a bachelor's degree in Journalism at and a master's degree in Educational Organization at the University of Illinois. He also received a master's degree in Secondary Education from St. Xavier University and a doctorate in Literacy, Language and Culture from the University of Illinois Chicago and the Vanderbilt doctorate.
Smith had been in the district since 2005 and has been an associate principal since 2014.