The Peabody School Committee recently announced that longtime educator Tracy Smith will take the reigns as principal of the city's largest elementary school, effective August 1.
Smith, 41, is currently the eighth grade housemaster at Higgins Middle School, which she said is like being an assistant principal to her own grade. But Smith will soon start a new endeavor in leading the Thomas Carroll Elementary School . The Peabody school has over 500 students in kindergarten to fifth grade.
The mother of three said she's ecstatic about her new position, but it will be bittersweet to leave her current post.
"I'm ecstatic, I'm so happy," Smith said. "This is a great new venture in my life. It will be sad to leave Higgins, I mean, I've been here for four years, but I'm excited to go over to Carroll and start over there."
Smith added that her main goal right now is to get to know the families, the students, the faculty and the staff at Carroll.
"The first few months of any job is very important to observe and make sure that I'm putting myself out there," Smith said. "I have to find out what's going right, what needs to change, why do they want things to change. I'm most excited to get in there and find a home there and make sure the parents, students and staff know I'm there to supper them.''
The long-time educator, along with about 40 other candidates applied for principal at both Carroll and the South School in January. Smith was chosen by a screening committee to interview for both posts, but only passed through as a finalist at South. The interim position was ultimately given to Katelin Kennedy.
Smith said that Superintendent Joe Mastrocola wasn't pleased with the top three Carroll finalists, so he decided to reopen the position, and encouraged Smith to reapply.
The Beverly native, who currently lives in Peabody, did just that and went through the entire application and interview process for a second time, and was selected by Mastrocola to take the job.
"I think her knowledge of Peabody, her knowledge of our students, her knowledge of some of the curriculum and her experience working with parents and students at the middle school, coupled with her organization and leadership skills is a great fit for the Carroll School," said Mastrocola. "One of the important factors for her is that she really wanted to be here."
Smith earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education at Salem State University, and her master's degree in special education from Wheelock College in Boston.
She taught for 10 years in Saugus, five of which were in middle school special education followed by five years in regular fourth grade. Smith first came to Higgins Middle School in 2009, where she took on the role as Housemaster.
"It's going to be sad leaving Higgins," Smith said. "I have a great administrative team that has taught me so much, but i'm excited to start at Carroll. It's what I've wanted to do for a long time."
Mastrocola has yet to sit down with Smith to discuss her contract, but said her annual salary would be around $90,000. He added that he would take into consideration the size of the school.