Midlothian High School principal James Smith will retire at the end of the school year after being in the position for two year.

Smith has been a staple in the district, serving 27 years as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and head principal at various campuses. A MISD press release said Smith views his retirement as a new beginning.

“I look forward to relaxing and enjoying myself.” Smith said. “I’m going to play lots of golf, travel and continue working on my garden.”

Replacing Smith will be current Assistant Superintendent of Administration, Dr. Al Hemmle. Hemmle, a former Frank Seale Middle School head principal, will be transitioning into the new position over the next month by meeting staff and becoming involved in interviews.

“My goal is to pick up where the high school is at,” said Hemmle, “go forward and continue to improve the learning experience for students at MHS.”

Midlothian High School was ranked as academically acceptable according to 2006 TAKS scores. The Texas Education Association ranks schools as exemplary, recognized, academically acceptable or academically unacceptable.

Mr. Smith will complete his contract on June 30, with Dr. Hemmle officially moving over to the high school on July 1.

Smith was one of 10 finalists interviewed in May 2004 for the MHS principal’s job by a select committee picked to fill the position held by longtime MHS Principal Billy Barrett who also retired.

“We made a diligent search and interviewed five people from within the district and five people from outside the district,” said Dr. J.D. Kennedy, MISD Superintendent said at the time. “We looked for someone who would be a good fit, had proven leadership skills and could make the transition we will see at the High School next year. After we conducted our interviews and started the selection process, he was a slam-dunk.

MISD policy allows the superintendent to name principals promoted from within the district. Monday’s vote by the school board made public the decision.

Smith was principal at J.R. Irvin Elementary School before taking on the front office job at MHS.

Kennedy explained that Smith’s personality and leadership made him an obvious choice.

Smith came to the district 27 years ago as a Midlothian Middle School teacher and coach. Smith is probably best known as a cross-country track coach. He also served as high school varsity defensive back coach in 1997. Smith has also served as a Midlothian Middle School assistant principal.

He was named Irvin Elementary School principal in 1997.

Smith holds his Bachelor of Science from North Texas and his Master of Education from North Texas. He holds a Middle Management Certification from East Texas which is now Texas A&M-Commerce.

Smith is currently president for the Midlothian Lions Club and a member of First Methodist Church of Midlothian. He has lived in Midlothian since 1987.

Barrett had served the district in a variety of position for 29 years. He had been principal of Midlothian High School for 10 years.