Mornings at LISA Academy North in Sherwood, Arkansas are sacred. That’s when Kimberly Woody-Smith shares an inspirational quote with students, who range from kindergarteners through high school. It might be something Michelle Obama or Bill Gates said, and while it seems like a small act, “If I don’t give a quote during the announcements, the kids will tell me about it,” said Woody-Smith, the assistant principal and dean of discipline at the school.
As a criminal justice major at UD, Woody-Smith didn’t start out to be a self-described “no-nonsense administrator,” but after working in a Dayton-area halfway house for adult males after graduating, the mom of two decided she wanted to do something to mold young minds.
The 1996 grad went back to Antioch University Midwest (formerly Antioch University McGregor) for her master’s degree in middle childhood education. After that, Woody-Smith taught in mostly low-income schools in Dayton; Fresno, California; Chicago; and Harrisburg, Virginia.
“It was humbling,” said Woody-Smith, who moved due to her husband’s corporate job. “The kids and parents were so committed to their education, and I learned a lot from them.”
Each time she entered a new school, the upstate New York native named her classes after colleges. She had Wright State, OSU and her personal favorite, the UD Flyers. It was a way, she said, to “skyrocket the students expectations” and help them see the kind of educational opportunities that were available.
“The students loved shouting, ‘WE ARE UD!’” she said.
Eventually Woody-Smith and her family settled in Arkansas where she began teaching sixth grade at LISA Academy North. Then came the opportunity to transition out of the classroom and into administration. Woody-Smith said she misses day-to-day teaching but she’s thrilled to support the unique, tight-knit environment at LISA. It’s a lot like UD — a place where students are more than just numbers.
“The community is small and people are here to help students be successful,” Woody-Smith said.