Smith has served as superintendent of Portland Public Schools since October
2007. PPS, with more than 48,500 students, is the largest school district in Oregon.
one of the district’s longest serving superintendents, Smith has led efforts to
support more effective teaching in PPS classrooms and build stronger
partnerships with higher education, community organizations, and other public and
led a successful facility planning and community engagement process that
resulted in Portland voters approving an eight-year, $482 million school
construction bond in November 2012, with 66 percent support. Smith has placed
equity at the center of school district priorities in an effort to erase
race-based disparities in student outcomes. To do this, Smith has focused on
transforming the culture of our schools and district.Under
her leadership, PPS has implemented ongoing professional development for all
employees to analyze and address how personal attitudes about race impact
instruction, district practices and policy making. To change practices, she
oversaw the crafting of the PPS Racial Educational Equity Policy, an Equity in
Public Purchasing & Contracting policy and an Affirmative Action Policy –
all approved unanimously by the school board.
her tenure, PPS schools have produced significant gains in student achievement
while narrowing the academic opportunity gap between white students and
students of color, including gains in early literacy, middle grade math and
reading, and the number of students who are on track to graduate in high
school. PPS’ graduation rate has also increased by 17 percentage points since
2008-09 and the gap between white students and students of color has narrowed
and, in over half of PPS high schools, closed altogether.
ambitious goals for the district include ensuring that every student is reading
at grade level by the end of third grade, accelerating improvement of the
district’s graduation rate, and reducing by 50 percent the exclusionary
discipline rates overall and the disparity in discipline rates between students
of color and white students.
has received a number of national and regional awards for her outstanding
leadership, including; the Racial Equity Leadership Award from Pacific
Educational Group, a national consulting organization that provides
professional development for schools and school districts around racial
consciousness and equity; the Leading by Example Excellence in Education
Award, from the Oregon Chapter of the Northwest Accreditation Council and
AdvancED; the Robert Phillips Regional Diversity Award from the
Northwest Public Employees Diversity Conference; the Tom Ruhl Ally of OALA
(Oregon Association of Latino Administrators) Award; the Business Journal
Women of Influence Orchid Award; and
the Oregon Congress of Parents and Teachers Advocate for Children Award.
Smith brings more than 38 years of experience in education. From 1982 to 2005,
she was executive director of Open Meadow Schools in Portland, an accredited,
nonprofit education program for middle and high school students that is
affiliated with PPS. Under her leadership, the organization grew to become a
national model for alternative education serving both struggling and gifted
students who haven’t thrived in traditional settings.
2005, Superintendent Smith was recruited to Portland Public Schools to lead the
Office of Educational Options, then assumed interim leadership of the Office of
Student, Family and School Support. She was promoted to chief of staff for
Superintendent Vicki Phillips in 2006 and was selected by the Portland School
Board to replace Phillips upon her departure.
addition to her longtime work on behalf of Portland’s students, Superintendent
Smith is a product herself of local schools. She attended elementary, junior
high and high school in the Portland metropolitan area.