New Trinity headmaster focused on more than scores

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 30, 2010

NATCHEZ — The new headmaster at Trinity Episcopal Day School’s has a broad, but brilliant goal.

Cynthia Smith wants her students and staff to be happy.

“If you have happy kids, happy teachers, you’re going to have a productive school,” Smith said.

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Smith said communication between the school and parents is key to making sure Trinity is an environment where students what to be.

“I want to know what’s good about Trinity, and I want to know about (parents’) apprehensions,” Smith said.

She said a healthy dialogue between teachers and parents can aid in finding and fixing problems at home or in the classroom.

Another good method of communication for parents will be the new Student Assessment Management System. Parents can log on to SAMS Web site to see how their children are doing in school rather than wait for quarterly progress reports to show up in the mailbox, Smith said.

Smith has already made changes to the curriculum.

She has added a physical science course in the high school and cut out the majority of study halls.

In addition, a new science field experiment lab worth a half credit will prioritize hands-on lab work without interrupting lecture classes. She said it works like college lab courses, as a supplement to lectures.

Smith said another strategy she has for letting students get the most out of their time at Trinity is to encourage cross-curriculum instruction. This type of instruction forces students to blend knowledge of different subject areas through application, creating a well-rounded student.

For example, Smith said she would make sure students who leave Trinity have proficient composition and communication skills, no matter which field they enter.

Making the curriculum important to each student’s interests is another method Smith said she would encourage.

“Why do you think kids are so proficient with cell phones? It’s important to them,” Smith said.

Smith said her transition to Trinity has been smooth, partially due to Jackie Ezell’s assistance. Ezell is Trinity’s chief financial officer and served as interim Head of school last spring.

Smith said she might experience some “uh-oh moments” when skirting the line between making changes and being sure not to make changes too quickly.

However, she said Trinity has welcomed her as headmaster more than any position she has had in her past.

Smith’s history as an educator is long. She started in the Natchez-Adams School District in 1980 has worked at some point in several schools in the Miss-Lou.

Most recently, Smith was a guidance counselor at Vidalia High School.

Smith said her experience on every level as an educator has prepared her for her new position.

“I think I am a better administrator because of my counseling, and I will always have an understanding of the teacher’s dilemma in the classroom,” Smith said.

But she feels like her new position is a good fit.

“I feel like I’m in supposed to be here at this time and place,” Smith said.