Smith brings focus on biliteracy

Nicole Smith will start next school year as principal of Independence Elementary School.

Photo by Audrey Caro
Nicole Smith will start next school year as principal of Independence Elementary School.

INDEPENDENCE — Nicole Smith brings 18 years of experience to her new role as principal of Independence Elementary School.

Smith earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Western Oregon University. She earned her master’s degree in education with an endorsement for English speakers of other languages, and her doctorate in educational leadership from George Fox University.

“I look forward to combining my education and experience with the talented staff at Independence Elementary School and Central School District,” Smith said. “I am honored to be a part of the team.”

She also looks forward to “delving into data” relevant to student learning to identify next steps with the IES team, she said.

“My 18 years in education have revolved around English language learner students,” Smith said. “My dissertation was both a qualitative and quantitative ‘Case Study on English Language Learners and Essential Reading Elements.’ I have a passion for English learner students and reading, so I wove the two.”

Smith’s ties to the community are strong, having completed her student teaching in the Dallas School District.

She worked as an English learner specialist in the Reynolds School District while she attended George Fox University.

“I began my career in education in the Reynolds School District as a K-5 English learner specialist in 2000,” Smith said.

During her 14 years at RSD, Smith was a classroom teacher for second through fifth grades, and was a K-12 teacher on special assignment for English language learners.

Smith is finishing out the 2017-18 school year in the Tigard-Tualatin School District, where she is the K-12 instructional support for Title III.

“I work with 10 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools,” Smith said. “I support English language development for the entire district.”

She also provides professional development for English learner specialists, classroom/content teachers and administrators.

“Much of my work focuses on English language development instruction and sheltered instructional practices,” Smith said.

Smith is proud of the Newcomer Program at one of TTSD’s high schools.

“In partnership with Education Northwest Consultant Tim Blackburn, we created an intentionally welcoming environment for students new to the U.S.,” Smith said. “We collaborated with teachers to create language arts and social studies courses that meet high school grade-level standards for students at a beginning English language level.”

She and her team created “a system for TTSD to offer the Oregon State Seal of Biliteracy to students in order to honor the skills and assets bilingual students offer to our community,” she said.

She said she values the diversity within IES.

“I look forward to getting to know students, families and staff, and learning more about their priorities for their school,” Smith said. “It is of utmost importance that we at IES, in partnership with families, ensure a culture of ‘all means all,’ that we have high academic expectations and support the social and emotional wellness of each student.”

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