ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS
Richard SmithSocial psychologists often argue whether leadership can be developed, or is simply a trait awarded to some at birth. Rick Smith demonstrated early leadership skills on the athletic field, but then committed himself to lifetime of learning and benefitted by strong mentors along the way to successfully lead countless students, teachers, and administrators of North Attleboro for more than thirty years.
Excellence in Education
Mr. Smith was a standout high school athlete at King Philip Regional High School during the late 1960's, graduating in 1969 and then 2007 being inducted into the King Philip Athletic Hall of Fame's inaugural class. After leaving high school, he starred as a baseball pitcher at the University of Bridgeport. Further demonstrating his natural skills for leadership, he was a Captain of his college team in his senior year and was chosen as one of only eight college pitchers to represent the United States in the 1972 World Baseball Tournament in Nicaragua, allowing no runs in the Silver Medal clinching game.
In 1973, Mr. Smith was drafted by the New York Yankees and graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a degree in Physical Education in 1974. After his baseball career was cut short due to injury, Mr. Smith returned home and began substituting at North Attleboro High School and in 1975 became a full time teacher in the North High Science Department.
Rick quickly became a broad contributor to the North Attleboro High School experience by joining the coaching ranks. During his coaching career, he coached many sports, including JV Softball, JV Baseball, and Freshman Football, his most impactful seasons happened over a ten year term as the Head Girl's Basketball Coach. Over that period of time, he was named the Sun Chronicle Coach of the Year four times, the Boston Globe Division 2 Coach of the Year in 1986 and in 1987 lead the team to the Division 2 State Championship. Mr. Smith points out that as a young coach, he was blessed with the opportunity to be around great coaches, like former Alumni Association Award winner Ken Pickering and Ray Beaupre, as well as Bob Guthrie. From Day 1, he learned, there was "a way it had to be done if you wanted to coach in North Attleboro".
Throughout his professional career, Mr. Smith committed himself to continuous learning. While a teacher at North High, he continued to take Biology and other science classes at Northeastern and Bridgewater State College. In 1987 he earned his Masters in Secondary School Education from Providence College and in 1994, his coursework at PC and Rhode Island College earned Mr. Smith his Superintendent Certification.
After 12 years as a teacher at NAHS, Mr. Smith decided to pursue the path of Administration. He credits this interest in being an Administrator to the opportunity presented by another former Alumni Association Award winner, then principal Wilson Whitty, to serve as an occasional substitute for Assistant Principal Pickering. Mr. Smith has increasing levels of responsibility serving as the Franklin High School Assistant Principal from 1987 to 1990, the North Smithfield, RI Junior/Senior High School Principal from December 1990 to September 1994, the Franklin High School Principal from 1994 to 1997 and then finally, in 1997, Mr. Smith returned to North Attleboro as the Middle School Principal.
In August 2000, Mr. Smith took on the role of North Attleboro Superintendent and held that position until he retired in April of 2009. Over the course of thirty-four years as an educator, Mr. Smith never once have a day that he did not want to go to work. Being a Superintendent was challenging, but he relished the opportunity to face those challenges and lead the district on a daily basis.
Today, Rick Smith is not taking retirement sitting down. He is currently working as a consultant helping school districts around the country by evaluating the districts and their administrators and helping to recommend opportunities for improvement. That being said, he enjoys most the time spent golfing and fishing and most importantly enjoying the time with his wife Patricia, a kindergarten teacher at Martin School, his daughter Courtney, NAHS Class of 2003, his son Derek, NAHS Class of 2001, Derek's wife Meghan NAHS Class of 2002, and his two year old granddaughter, Julia.
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