Published in the December 13, 2017 edition


WAKEFIELD — While the official date is still more than six months away, last night marked the beginning of the end of an era for the Wakefield Public Schools.

Dr. Kimberly J. Smith announced that she will be retiring on June 30, 2018 as Superintendent of Schools after a 35-year career as a teacher and school administrator, all but three of which which were spent in Wakefield.

Dr. Kim Smith

Dr. Smith made the bittersweet announcement at the end of last night’s School Committee meeting.

“I am deeply honored to have given the last 32 years of my professional life exclusively to Wakefield,” Smith said, “where I have fallen in love with the community and schools I have been so fortunate to serve.”

Smith told the School Committee that at the end of this school year she will reach the “magic number” of 35 years of service in Massachusetts public schools at which point she will be retirement eligible.

“It has been a career of great joy and deep commitment,” Smith said, “during which I spent 18 years teaching and building the music program at Wakefield Memorial High School, followed by 10 years as Assistant Principal and Principal leading this same extraordinary school, and the last four years as Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent, honored to serve at the helm of the Wakefield Public Schools and working to provide a path to excellence for its bright future.

“And the future is astoundingly bright, Smith continued. “I pass the torch to district, school and teacher leaders in whom I have a deep trust and abiding faith; I am inspired by this next generation of children who are smart and beautiful and kind; and I am confident that our parents, citizens and Town officials will continue to pursue excellence in education as a hallmark of the Wakefield community.

“I am profoundly grateful to our School Committee, who relentlessly supports the core values and mission of the Wakefield Public Schools,” Smith concluded. “With this early notice of my retirement, I intend to maximize their opportunity to chart the course for the future. My resounding love for Wakefield will last a lifetime, so you can be sure that I will be cheering you on for many years to come.”

School Committee members were reserved in reacting to the news, knowing that Smith’s long goodbye will afford them ample opportunity to sing her praises even as they simultaneously seek her successor.

School Committee members Christopher Callanan and Greg Liakos thanked Smith for providing them with early notice of her retirement and thereby affording the School Committee with the time to find the best possible person to succeed her.

Meanwhile, Liakos joked, “We will get the most out of you.”

First-year School Committee member Anne Fortier said that she was disappointed that she hadn’t had more time to work with Dr. Smith. But because of her, Fortier said, she would “always remember how important it is to lead with your heart.”

School Committee member RJ Masse said that he was “saddened and shocked” by the news but congratulated Smith on her impending retirement.

School Committee member Kate Morgan also thanked Smith for providing the committee with long advance notice and said that she would “save everything else for your last meeting.”

School Committee member Thomas Markham spoke of Smith’s “capacity to touch people and bring the best out of young men and women. We’re going to miss that, but you will have left that with each of us.”

School Committee chairman Rob Tiro also thanked Dr. Smith.

“Even in Dr. Smith announcing her retirement, she’s thinking about what’s best for the Wakefield Public Schools,” Tiro observed, “and that surprises absolutely no one.”

After the meeting, Tiro expanded further on his reaction to Smith’s retirement.

“I wish to congratulate Dr. Smith on a truly remarkable career which is a testament to both her leadership as an educator and her commitment to the Town of Wakefield,” Tiro said.

“In each of her many positions, Dr. Smith brought a dedication and drive to continuously push Wakefield further along our path towards excellence and success,” he added. “With the early notice of her retirement, Dr. Smith remains committed to this cause as the School Committee is well positioned to begin the process of hiring our next Superintendent. In the coming days and weeks, the Labor Subcommittee will meet to establish a timeline for this process which will be communicated to the many stakeholders in town.

Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio also offered his reaction to the last night’s announcement.

“I have greatly enjoyed working with Kim Smith over the years in her capacity as High School Principal and most recently as Wakefield’s Superintendent of Schools,” Maio said. “I was constantly impressed by Kim’s steadfast resolve to provide the best possible educational experience for the students of Wakefield. I experienced first-hand how her passion for our students helped them soar to new heights, as she greatly influenced all three of my sons.

“We collaborated on educational, social, budgetary and construction issues and I believe that Wakefield is a better place because of her,” Maio said. “I will miss Kim Smith, as will the town.”