Dr. Kevin Smith is Bethel’s New Superintendent

Abby Heinemeyer, Journalism Student

The Bethel Board of Education elected a new Superintendent of Schools at the November 17th meeting. Dr. Kevin Smith, the principal of Bethel Middle School, will be taking on a new job. He is filling the shoes of Dr. Gary Chesley, who announced in May 2011 that he would retire after 13 years as Superintendent.

After a lengthy applicant process, Dr. Smith was selected. According to the newsletter sent to all parents in the Bethel Public Schools community, 21 applications from nine states were received after advertising in several magazines and websites. Six candidates were further reviewed by the Board and then limited down to a final four.

Dr. Smith was eventually chosen based on his qualifications, such as being a professor at Fordham University. He was also the principal at Sacred Heart School in the Bronx before becoming the principal of Bethel Middle School in 2006. During his time in Bethel, the New England League of Middle Schools named BMS a Spotlight School, which was given to only eleven other Connecticut schools. After working with Dr. Chesley through a “transition process,” he will begin as Superintendent on February 1, 2012.

“Dr. Smith has done an outstanding job at Bethel Middle School. He has established a strong academic and social culture and has articulated a clear vision for the Middle School,” said Pamela Chapman, a vice-principal at BMS.

Many students are eager to watch how Dr. Smith performs in his new role of Superintendent, such as junior Evan Gorry. “I’ll be excited to see how his work progresses in the future,” Gorry said.

Others are much less keen with the final decision. Senior Ryan Campbell said, “Dr. Smith as the superintendent is the worst decision ever. He expelled me.”

Despite the reactions of some students, “the community should be extremely satisfied and proud of the process the board followed,” Lawrence Craybas, Board Chairman, says. Through this process, the Board worked to find “a person who will continue our primary focus on growing student achievement, accelerate our trajectory to excellence, and help us build on a truly great school system in the years ahead.”

With a unanimous vote, the Bethel Board of Education believes that Dr. Smith is the right person for the job.

(Katherine Filler helped with this article.)