Principal Smith has a lot of class
Park City High School Principal Hal Smith, in keeping with his self-effacing administrative style, announced his resignation Thursday effective immediately. After 16 years as a teacher and more than a decade as principal, it is hard to believe that a mainstay of the district is gone.
Over the years, Smith offered parents and students a sense of continuity that extended beyond the school district. As a native-born Parkite who attended the same school he ultimately led, Smith enhanced the school’s relationship with the community at large. In fact, there may never be another Miner principal with such authentic lineage. Smith’s father worked for United Park City Mines and as a boy Hal grew up in a town that still claimed mining as an important part of the economy.
This week, as The Record collected comments about Smith, one particular observation was repeated over and over. Teachers, administrators and office personnel emphasized Smith’s talent for teamwork and his tendency to dodge taking credit for the school’s accomplishments.
Smith’s preference for keeping a low profile was remarkable during a time of seemingly political and emotional upheaval as the schools coped with growing pains, changing demographics and state funding restrictions. According to coworkers, Smith weathered the changes with grace and hard work.
During his tenure Smith led the school through several monumental changes many of which were self-imposed — as the district, responding to patrons, raised its educational standards. Working in concert with parent advisory committees and with additional motivation and support from the Park City Education Foundation, Smith pushed his staff and students toward excellence. Though he would deny it, much of the success of that effort is due to the spirit of cooperation he engendered among his staff.
Smith’s announcement was delivered in the school’s library with little fanfare but lots of hugs. He emphasized that the timing of his departure was meant to ensure a smooth transition for the district and students. Nevertheless, Smith’s intimate connection with Park City’s working-class roots and his modest leadership style will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.
When members the PCHS Class of 2006 don their caps and gowns next month, each will owe a measure of his or her academic talent and confidence to Hal Smith and perhaps one of them will come back, as Smith did, to return the favor to future Miners.
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