New communications and outreach director to start at SH this spring

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Craig Smith is the new communications and outreach director for Southern Hancock.

NEW PALESTINE — Officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County approved the hiring of a new Communications and Community Outreach Director during its board meeting Monday.

The role will be different from the previous communications position, Superintendent Lisa Lantrip said.

The new hire, Craig Smith, is a 1993 Mt. Vernon High School graduate and current principal in the Center Grove school district. He is expected to start with Southern Hancock later this spring, sometime in late March after spring break.

“I’m just elated to be coming home really,” Smith said. “I’m a Hancock County kid and this place drew me back for sure.”

Smith replaces outgoing Communications Director Wes Anderson, who is leaving the district to take a head football coaching position with Greensburg Community School Corporation. Anderson will also serve as that district’s Communications and Outreach Director. He noted his last day of work will be Feb. 28.

In addition to his role as the communications and media liaison with SH, Anderson was also an assistant coach with the New Palestine High School football team, something he did in his spare time. Anderson served as the wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator during his time with the Dragons and said he’s leaving to follow his true passion — football.

Anderson’s administrative duties with SH paid $71,000 a year, while Smith’s salary jumps by some $50,000 to $118,500 per year. It’s a salary more in line with the district’s principal pay scale than a communications position. Lantrip said that’s because Smith will handle both communications and community outreach which will include setting up vocational opportunities for students.

Lantrip said she hired someone with an educational and administrative background and upped the pay noting the position will carry additional responsibilities.

“Really this is about the individual student pathways that are required by new graduation requirements which covers that vocational piece,” Lantrip said. “We’re looking at how do we make sure our kids have those business connections and opportunities for the graduation requirements … The position is educational and administrative in that they are supervising and connecting the kids to the businesses.”

It’s that vocational piece that Smith is mostly looking forward to, he noted, making sure every student gets an opportunity.

“There are a lot of pathways and a lot of buckets kids need to fill for graduation and for the kids in Hancock County. We need to make sure every single kid gets those buckets filled,” Smith said. “We’ve got to put kids on that positive foot forward … My heart is and always will be kids first.”

While Smith with handle media relations and be in charge of the district’s social media messaging, he’ll do plenty of work on the administrative side for students — something more suited to his background and training.

Smith took over the leadership of Center Grove Middle School Central in the summer of 2015. Before then, he was an assistant principal of Chapel Hill 7th and 8th Grade Center in Wayne Township.

Smith began his career teaching fifth grade at Break-O-Day Elementary in Clark Pleasant Community Schools. He also taught fifth grade at Jeremiah Gray-Edison Elementary and social studies at Perry Meridian Middle school, both in Perry Township. He also has served as Chapel Hill’s assistant principal since 2006.

Smith was educated in Hancock County, attending Greenfield elementary schools, Eden and Maxwell before going to Mt. Vernon Middle school and then on to Mt. Vernon High School to round out his pre-college education.

Smith has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a master’s degree in education administration from Butler University.

He and Lantrip crossed paths years ago and had a working relationship when they both were employed with Wayne Township.

“I was an assistant principal when she was an assistant superintendent, which was about two lifetimes ago,” Smith said.