BURGIN - There's a certain story from Donald Smith's youth he loves to tell.
Fresh out of Western Kentucky University with a teaching degree, Smith was faced with five job offers at different schools. He whittled down his list to two finalists in the Fayette County School district: Beaumont and Winburn middle schools. Unsure of which to pick, he sought guidance from his grandfather.
At the beginning of the consultation, Smith informed his elder he'd all but decided where he wanted to go.
"I told him I wanted to go to Winburn, which was a predominately black school, because I really thought I could make a difference," he said.
Looking up at his grandfather for what he thought was sure to be approval, he got a surprising reaction.
"He looked at me and said, 'No. No you're not. You're going to Beaumont,' an upper-class white school, 'to show them what you're capable of,'" Smith said recalling his grandfather's directions. That memory has guided Smith through the better part of his adult life.
"I've always taken the hard road."
A difficult path has led Smith to a spot in the Kentucky Department of Education's Minority Superintendent Internship Program, an intense one-year leadership development program designed to cultivate and guide black educators into high-ranking administrative positions, including being a superintendent.
Smith, principal of the Mercer County Alternative School, will spend one year acting as a shadow to Superintendent Dick Webb at the neighboring Burgin Independent district.
Webb says he will meet with KDE in the coming weeks to determine the technical classification of the exact role Smith will play in the school system.
"Basically he's going to be doing everything that I'm going to be doing," said Webb, saying the year will be a very involved experience for Smith. The program is relatively exclusive, with Smith being one of two admitted this year....
Thursday, July 10, 2008
This from the Advocate Messenger: