MAPLEWOOD, NJ — When Clinton Elementary School students head back to their classrooms in September, they will be welcomed by a new assistant principal. Sandra Smith, who currently teaches fourth grade at Seth Boyden Elementary School, was appointed to the position by the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education at its April 23 meeting. A teacher in the district since 2006, Smith has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Montclair State University.
Smith is stepping into her first administrative role, and is excited to work with Principal Ann Bodnar and the staff at Clinton in the next school year. In an email to the News-Record on May 13, Smith said she is happy to be able to continue working in the district.
Saying she has had “10 rewarding years teaching various grades in the district,” she added that she is “happy to have the opportunity to continue working in the district as an administrator. It gives me the ability to impact more students.”
In a statement at the BOE meeting, Smith praised the environment that Bodnar has created at Clinton.
“You and your staff have created a true family environment at Clinton that is academically strong and culturally inclusive,” she said. “Everyone in the school knows that they are important. Everyone knows that they matter. Creativity is also celebrated at Clinton, as can be seen in the wide variety of programs and activities offered. These enhance the learning experience, and I can’t wait to get involved.”
“I am so pleased to welcome Ms. Smith to Clinton School,” Bodnar said in an email to the News-Record on May 4. “She comes to Clinton with a wealth of teaching knowledge and experience. What attracted me most to Ms. Smith is her passion and love for children.”
Smith is also a member of the South Orange-Maplewood community, another reason Bodnar thought she would be a good fit to assist her at Clinton.
“She has not only been a highly valued teacher in the district for many years, but she is also a community member,” Bodnar said. “She is truly vested in the South Orange-Maplewood School District and ensuring that all Clinton students soar. I am looking forward to learning and growing as a team with Ms. Smith.”
Smith also said she wants to work with the community and the families of Clinton. Describing the school as an environment where students love to learn and thrive, she said she is a “perfect match” for the school because of her own love for learning and enthusiasm for being in the classroom.
“I am eager to begin working with the school’s families and others in the community. It is important for all stakeholders to be involved in the educational process to have a school that is truly successful,” Smith said in her statement to the BOE. “I am especially looking forward to building relationships with the children who attend Clinton School. The students I have met have been respectful, inquisitive, hardworking and enthusiastic.
“I eagerly anticipate meeting the whole student body and assisting them as they learn and grow.”
Helping those students grow is also a goal of Bodnar’s as Smith begins her tenure at Clinton. Bodnar wants Clinton to continue to grow as a “Leader in Me” school, part of a system that encourages students to voice their thoughts and be leaders.
“We are in an exciting time at Clinton School,” Bodnar said, adding that they want “to continue to dive deep into our restorative practice and bias awareness and cultural competency work. It is our goal to be an inclusive and equitable school where all students have a voice and the opportunities to be leaders in our community.”
“Clinton faculty and staff are strong educators and I’m excited to join them,” Smith said in an email to the News-Record on May 13. “I look forward to helping the students at Clinton achieve academic success and grow socially and emotionally.”