New staff feature: Caleb Smith

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Principal Caleb Smith poses in his office.

Ann Pomeroy, Newtonian Editor-in-Chief

Anytime someone takes on a new challenge, whether that be a new job, sport or hobby, they are bound to face hidden challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has created more difficulties amongst the faculty at Newton High School. For the 18 new staff members at NHS, the year has proposed unforeseen circumstances that were forced to be overcome with great strides.

One of those new staff members is principal Caleb Smith. Smith is a Garden City High School graduate and a former Valley Center High School student, teacher and administrator. He has an Associates degree from Garden City Community College, a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from Kansas State University and a Masters degree in School Leadership from Emporia State University. When the time arose for Smith to take on a new challenge after working for the Valley Center school district for seven years, he looked towards NHS.

“I wanted to go somewhere that was a one high school community. The places I’ve been before, both as a student and as a teacher were Valley, Garden City [and Derby, all] one high school communities,” Smith said. “Newton, obviously, is a one high school community and there are a lot of cool things here like a college and the fact that there is still a Main Street. It’s just kind of a cool community.”

Another aspect of NHS that appealed to Smith was the Career and Technical Education department (CTE). Newton has one of the largest CTE departments in the state which offers a large range of classes from engineering to manufacturing to health science and everything in between. 

“I’m really big on that you don’t necessarily have to go to college to be successful, that you can go right into the workforce or get a trade certification,” Smith said. “So I thought that it was really cool that [Newton] already had [the CTE department] in place.”

The CTE department currently offers 17 career pathways to help prepare students to become career ready, college ready and future ready. There are many opportunities to shadow mentors in an interested career, earn industry certifications and even obtain college credit. Smith hopes to be able to broaden the department even more in future years.

“I think we can continue to build our CTE model and give students opportunities to take relevant courses rather than your traditional math, science and English courses,” Smith said. “So trying to make classes more relevant for students as much as possible is probably [one of my biggest goals].”

Another one of Smith’s goals is getting the NHS graduation rate as close to 100 percent as possible, if not 100 percent. 

“From a statistical standpoint our graduation rates are pretty low, we’re in the lower 80 percentile, which is below the state average. So I’d like to see that getting in the upper 90s sooner rather than later,” Smith said. 

When not in his office at NHS, Smith can be seen out on the sidelines of most sporting events, taking photos of the athletes and just supporting the teams in general. Smith can also be seen out on the putting green with his biggest mentor, his dad, or playing with his two kids. However, Smith claims that recently he has not had a large amount of spare time.

“I believe in being where your feet are, so I’m fully invested in making Newton High School as good as I can and as good as it can be,” Smith said. “I want to find ways to support our teachers to help and support our students so that they can be successful.”

Smith moved to the Newton community shortly after his hire at NHS. He is looking forward to making new connections with students, staff and the community in general. He is embracing the change and new environment and is looking forward to the years ahead.

“One thing everyone should know about me, is that I want to help every high school kid here be successful, whatever that means to them,” Smith said. “I think a lot of times principals get the rap that they like power and that they like to discipline but that’s about as opposite for me as it can be.”

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