The 2022-2023 school year marks a new era for The Franciscan School, a new beginning that will carry on the torch as Mike Watson begins his retirement. When students get out of their cars for the first time and walk down the halls, they will be greeted by our new Principal, Dawn Smith. But, Smith is not a new face. For the last two years, Smith has served as TFS Assistant Principal for grades K-5. And she can’t wait to get started.
Smith arrived at TFS in July of 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. After 22 years serving at Cary Academy, she brought a wealth of knowledge, passion, and experience with her. During those years, Smith served as a Sixth Grade Math Teacher, Sixth Grade Team Lead, Sixth Grade Advisor, and Assistant Head of Middle School. She created a math curriculum and content that offered a variety of learning opportunities including inquiry-based learning and differentiated instruction. Smith says, “One of the most important aspects I brought to TFS was my previous work to help meet the emotional and social needs of students, and the need to get teachers involved in that.”
Prior to Cary Academy, Smith also taught at public schools in both Hillsborough and Pittsboro. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Early Secondary Education from SUNY-Cortland, a Master’s degree in Middle School Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, and Post Master’s Certification in School Administration from UNC-Greensboro.
Smith shares that “What drew me to be a part of TFS was the faith-based and community environment.” In fact, for Smith, it has felt more like a “coming home” to a place that so closely aligns with her faith and academic values, while always putting students first. When Watson announced his retirement, Smith felt, “It just seemed natural to apply, something I have been working towards for all of my career.”
Starting her 31st year in education, Smith has an eagerness to be integrally involved and instrumental in moving forward with the momentum at TFS. She believes the school has many positive things happening, and she wants to continue ushering these aspects of the school. As we come out of the pandemic, Smith wants to assess the school’s greatest needs, such as helping students build relationships with teachers and peers, providing study strategies along with imperative time management skills, returning to service opportunities, and continuing to maintain a strong community. She cares deeply about the professional development of teachers, and she wants to see the school utilize the calendar to meet the needs of teachers and carve out time for that development.
Moving forward with excitement and energy is important for Smith. “What I love most about TFS is the strong, vibrant community- you can’t force it or fabricate it, and it is felt all around. Students come first and are at the forefront of everything we do.” She believes TFS has a wonderful and dedicated faculty and staff, and she is ready to start the school year pouring into both the teachers and the students. In her words, Smith says, “I still have so much to give, and I can’t wait to give it to TFS.”