Sharon D. Smith
Camargo Elementary School
Montgomery County School District
Mount Sterling, Kentucky

When Sharon Smith arrived to lead Camargo Elementary in 2008, she noticed a lack of discipline. “Students as well as the staff needed to know expectations and feel loved and cared for,” she says. To that end, Smith launched incentive-based strategies to improve student behavior at the rural school, which serves a largely poor student population. Children now receive rewards for acts of kindness, for example. The new behavior management system in place under Smith’s leadership improved the environment for the school’s 648 preschoolers through fifth graders. As school leader, Smith further builds and nurtures a positive school culture by providing a sense of security to staff members, students, and parents. She previously served as principal for seven years at Owingsville Elementary, located in a different county. In both roles she promoted teacher leadership opportunities, recognizing teachers’ abilities to enhance the culture and morale within schools. Throughout her career as a principal, Smith also has ensured that staff members gather, analyze, and use student assessment data to drive instructional decisions. She stresses the use of data analysis to develop other continuous improvement efforts in the school. She earned a B.S. from Eastern Kentucky University and an M.Ed. from Morehead State University in Kentucky.