In the August/September issue of Evansville Business magazine, we introduced readers to David Smith. The new superintendent of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation replaces a departing Vince Bertram, who crafted a new strategic plan for EVSC. That vision included a new junior high and high school on the North Side. New ventures may be forthcoming, but Smith has a 29-year career at EVSC. Here, he shares more on his students, career, and future.
The lives of our students don’t begin upon graduation; the lives of our students are here and now. We want to make sure that we equip our students so they are extremely successful in life.
Kids are really honest. They can spot somebody who isn’t genuine a mile away. They can spot somebody who really is only there for a paycheck. They can spot someone who is just there from this time to this time and can’t wait to leave. I’m not interested in folks like that because what we do is too important for them.
Our kids are exposed to so many things in the EVSC that nobody else, not only around here but nobody else in the nation, has.
It’s not just the technology because I think it’s pretty simple to have technology, dump it in a classroom, and say, “Good luck.” But we have individuals imbedded in our school corporation who have an incredible amount of knowledge of those devices. They support teachers so we grow in capacity within our corporation to make sure that we utilize that technology.
My first computer was a Commodore 64. I purchased that device for $269, and I bought a cassette tape drive. I didn’t have a monitor because I just wired it to the back of my 13-inch, black-and-white TV. To load a program, you had to insert the program on the cassette in the tape drive. I could go and not only have lunch but also have supper by the time that loaded. That was so difficult to operate, I just said, “Forget it.” Two years later, I came back, and it was very intuitive.
We understand that we have a responsibility to make certain that our teachers give our students outstanding learning opportunities. If we just purchase the opportunity and let it sit in the classroom, then we’re not benefiting anyone.
One initiative with netbooks, I think we have about the largest rollout of that in the nation — if not the largest — one of the largest in the nation. Every classroom will have the smart board, the smart technology. My wife (Sarah) actually attended an e-learning conference because she is getting one in her classroom (at Reitz High School). She wanted to make certain that her students got the benefits of that piece of technology and what it has to offer.
Being innovative is not always easy. Implementing that innovation, and implementing that innovation with fidelity is what often trips people up.