New vice principal aims for inclusion


Dayita Mandal and Ivory Jiang

On Thursday, Aug. 11, the first day of school, Fremd students were in for a surprise as a new face greeted them. It was Michael Smith, their new assistant principal. 

Smith explains that he actually never intended to become an administrator. 

“I knew in high school that I wanted to become a high school English teacher,” Smith said. 

As someone who loved reading, writing, and debating, he wanted to pursue a career involving those skills. However, his plans did not work out as he expected. One day, he was eating dinner with his in-laws when, out of curiosity, his mother-in-law asked if he was interested in becoming an administrator. In the spur of the moment, he quickly agreed. 

“I’m grateful for her planting that seed because then I really got reflecting, like, would I be interested in going down that path?” Smith recounted.

Prior to joining the staff at William Fremd High School, Smith worked as an educator in District 86 for fifteen years. He was an English teacher at Hinsdale Central High School for ten years, and after that, he became the English assistant department chair at Hinsdale South. Soon, he was appointed Dean of Students, preparing him for his future role as assistant principal.

Outside of school hours, Smith enjoys several leisure activities, including reading, writing, watching soccer, and— a new hobby— mental cycling. He defines this as “sustainability of exercise long term,” which allows him to decompress and reflect on life. He also loves long bike rides and being outdoors. Nonetheless, his top priority is spending time with his wife and three children, which he often sets aside time to appreciate.

When asked about his time at Fremd, Smith replied, “Everyone’s been very welcoming.” 

During the first few weeks, he met countless new people, including students and staff members. On top of that, he frequently lost his way around the school. However, the students were always willing to point him in the right direction. The Fremd community has been very patient and hospitable; he has never felt like an outsider. 

“There’s a friendliness that I feel,” Smith said. 

On the first day of school, Smith held the door open for students leaving the building, and as one of the students walked through, he thanked Smith. It was the first time someone had caught him off guard. What were they thanking him for? Was it for simply doing his job? At Fremd, he found himself comfortable and in a judgment-free space. 

“I feel like I’ve been welcomed and now I feel a part of that sense of community,” Smith said.

During the next couple of years, Smith hopes to add value to the school by advocating for equity and inclusivity. He also plans to increase student engagement in the classroom by collaborating with teachers. One method they would be implementing is the adaptation of instructional practices. He feels it is critical to developing students in academics and their overall character. Most importantly, he wants to create a positive and productive atmosphere, helping each individual achieve and reach their full potential.

Smith envisions himself as “someone who can be a resource.” He adds, “Someone who will use my position of power and authority as an administrator to open doors for others to support others’ hopes and dreams.”

He is willing to listen to each student’s thoughts and feelings but will enforce consequences if necessary. That does not mean that he will be a harsh hammer, judging what’s right and wrong. Every tough decision he makes comes from a position of mindfulness, and the last thing he wants is to be feared. His primary role is to support and help students unlock their potential for success.

 “I’m not big, bad, and scary. I promise,” he laughs.

Smith hopes to help all students become comfortable, included, and successful during their time at Fremd. Let us welcome him to the Fremd community!