Rebels welcome new superintendent

The Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community School District will welcome in new faces to the administration team as classes begin later this month.

A new sharing agreement with the AGWSR school district has brought in Erik Smith as the new superintendent with the Gladbrook-Reinbeck school district. Smith takes over for David Hill who previously split time as the superintendent at North Tama and Gladbrook-Reinbeck. On April 13 the G-R school board accepted Hill’s resignation along with the termination of the 28E sharing agreement with North Tama. The district was approached by AGWSR to take on a similar 28E arrangement with them as they were looking to shift their administrative team from having a split time high school principal and superintendent to having a full time high school principal and a split time superintendent.

Smith took on his first superintendent role with AGWSR in 2018 and spent two school years there as their high school principal and superintendent.

His career began teaching at Don Bosco in 2004 and after some encouragement from his principal there he was encouraged to pursue school administration. After assuming a role as the high school assistant principal and activities director at Don Bosco, he left in 2009 to take a high school principal position at Nashua-Plainfield. Before taking the job at AGWSR he also worked as a high school principal at Clarion-Goldfield-Dows.

Growing up in Sumner and working with school districts around northeast Iowa, Smith had been familiar with the Gladbrook-Reinbeck district. Also, during his time at Nashua-Plainfield he got to know current G-R Activities Director John Olson.

Smith says he enjoys working with students but also appreciates the opportunity to build relationships with staff and board members as an administrator. Being able to have the time to assess broader challenges and decisions and to work through things gradually was also another aspect of school administration that Smith said he enjoys.

He hopes to bring a lead by example approach to his work as a superintendent.

“We have two great administrators at Gladbrook-Reinbeck,” Smith said. “As a superintendent I hope to be there supporting our principals; to ask what they need to do the job better and then to get out of the way and let our professional staff do their work.”

Since beginning work on July 1, Smith has been working closely with the school board in making preparations to return students to classes for the fall semester. He aims to be as proactive as possible with the board and to facilitate open communication so that decisions can be made deliberately and with few surprises.

The sharing schedule between AGWSR and G-R will allow Smith to rotate Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at one district with Tuesdays and Thursdays at the other. He hopes to make it out to as many special occasions as possible as they come up throughout the year with each district.

Smith and his family live in Ackley with his wife Jill and four kids. Jill currently serves as the head volleyball coach at AGWSR and the family spends a lot of their free time traveling to support their kids activities.

With the Rebels and the Cougars both in the North Iowa Cedar League, Smith will have the luxury and the challenge of supporting two districts that see each other frequently in competition. When he’s not cheering for his kids, Smith says he’ll do his best to stay neutral when the two schools face each other in the coming seasons.

Smith says he is looking forward to working with families and communities within the Gladbrook-Reinbeck district and has been encouraged to see how much pride and investment has been put into the environment there.

“Gladbrook-Reinbeck has a lot of great things going on,” Smith said. “They’ve come through struggles in recent years and seem to have grown a lot. I can see they have a lot of pride in the buildings here and that the towns and communities have committed to themselves and to the district.”

The primary challenge for G-R and schools across the nation this year will be how to contend with the COVID-19 public health crisis and still be able to provide quality education to students.

Smith acknowledges that it’s been a uniquely challenging year trying to make difficult decisions without much precedent to lean on. As classes begin later this month his message to students and families is to remain flexible and open in communication with the school.

“We hope our families will just be open with us about how things are going for them throughout the year so we can be informed and make adjustments where we need to,” Smith said.