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New principal begins work at ECHS

By By SHERRY DIGMON
Advance Staff Writer
Jerry Smith stood at the front door of Escambia County High School Monday morning.
Smith, accompanied by Superintendent of Education Buck Powell, began his first day as principal of ECHS by greeting teachers and students as they arrived at the school.
Smith steps into the job under less than ideal circumstances – low Stanford Achievement Test (SAT) scores and a revolving door in the principal's office. Smith is the school's fifth principal in five years.
He said Monday morning that despite the school's recent history, he's looking ahead, not back.
Smith said when he told folks he was taking a job in Atmore, the most common comment he heard was, "Oh, that's where the prison is." He's looking to change that perception.
ECHS has been plagued by low scores on the Stanford Achievement Test. In 1998, the school was on academic alert, but improved to academic caution in 1999.
Smith, 50, is from Florence, Ala. He attended Burrell-Slater High School in Florence, graduating in 1969. His administrative experience includes: administrative supervisor with the United States Air Force, administrative supervisor with the University of Oregon Air Force ROTC Unit, administrative supervisor with the Alabama State University Veterans Affairs Office and administrative supervisor with the Alabama A&M University police department.
He has been head basketball coach, assistant football coach and track and volleyball coach.
At Colbert County High School, he was special education coordinator.
Smith also served as assistant principal at CCHS for the past three years. He is currently attending Nova Southeastern University, pursuing a doctorate of education.