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Fayetteville Elementary principal to retire at end of school year

Fayetteville Elementary School Principal Nancy Smith
Fayetteville Elementary School Principal Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith wishes there was another word she could use instead of retirement.

“I don’t really view it as retirement. I’m moving forward,” said Ms. Smith, who will retire from the Fayetteville-Manlius School District July 1 after 25 years, including 23 years as the Fayetteville Elementary School principal. “I have been in education for 37 ½ years and have loved all aspects of my career.”

Ms. Smith, a Syracuse resident, was a speech language therapist for New York State and the Syracuse City School District prior to accepting in 1987 the assistant principal position at F-M’s Wellwood Middle School. She was named Fayetteville Elementary School’s principal in 1989.

Nancy has been a leader and a resource for her peers here at Fayetteville-Manlius. We will greatly miss her insight, willingness to help and wealth of institutional knowledge,” said Superintendent Corliss Kaiser. “It has been a pleasure to work with her, and I wish her the best of luck.”

Ms. Smith is still working on her future plans, but she does not expect to be idle.

She would like to add to her travel log, which includes trips to Europe, China, Nicaragua and Egypt. She enjoys cooking, noting that chicken cacciatore is her go-to dish. And she enjoys running, cross country skiing, swimming and biking.

“I have a lot of interests, and I plan to pursue them,” she said. “I love being active.”

Ms. Smith said she has enjoyed working with students’ parents, particularly through Fayetteville Elementary School’s parent group, the Home School Association (HSA). The group works to enhance students’ educational experiences with activities such as visiting authors, storytelling residences, and theater productions.

“Our parents have been very supportive and absolutely wonderful to work with,” she said.

Ms. Smith also shared that the staff at Fayetteville Elementary is exceptional.  As principal, Ms. Smith indicated it has been important to help foster staff collaboration and respect in the development of a collegial work environment.  It takes the entire school to support the whole child – emotionally, socially, and academically – as they work to help every child be successful, she said.

“There is a very strong sense of collaboration and friendship among the staff,” said Mary Coughlin, F-M’s assistant superintendent for instruction. “They support each other, and they support Nancy.”

When Mrs. Coughlin was hired as F-M’s Enders Road Elementary School principal in 1999, she found Ms. Smith to be extremely helpful in navigating district policies and procedures.

“Because of her background, because of her knowledge, because of her history here, she’s been a real leader at the K-4 level,” Mrs. Coughlin said.

In recent years, the emphasis on environmentally friendly initiatives has blossomed throughout the school district. Fayetteville Elementary students and staff have been involved with a multitude of “green” projects, including recycling items such as juice pouch containers and enhancing their classroom lessons with activities such as gardening in two building courtyard areas. Teaching students to respect the environment and take care of it is important, Ms. Smith said. 

“We want our kids to be healthy, and we want the world in which they live to be as green as possible.  This involves helping them develop a personal responsibility for their well-being and for sustaining a healthy environment,” she said.

Mrs. Smith has particularly enjoyed working with the elementary students, whose innocence, energy, and spontaneity create an active and challenging day-to-day work environment.

“My experience at F-M has been outstanding,” she said. “It does not seem like 25 years. It seems like a handful of years.”

The district has created a web page with information about the search for a new Fayetteville Elementary School principal. Parents of Fayetteville Elementary students are invited to take a short online survey to give the district feedback on the qualities and characteristics they feel are important for the new principal to possess. The survey is available through March 7.

Nancy Smith

Fayetteville Elementary School Principal, 1989-present (retirement planned for July 1, 2012)

Wellwood Middle School Assistant Principal, 1987-1989

Speech Language Therapist: Syracuse City School District, 1977-1987; New York State, January 1976 to Fall 1977

SUNY Oswego, certificate of advanced study, educational administration, 1987

Syracuse University, master’s degree in communication disorders; 1975

University of New Hampshire, bachelor’s degree in communication disorders, 1974



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