Longtime Southwest principal Smith to retire

The longtime Southwest High School principal is retiring next week.

Bill Smith will retire July 31 after 14 years at Southwest and nearly 20 with Minneapolis Public Schools. He said Friday that he’s been contemplating retirement since construction at Southwest wrapped up last August and that the timing was right for the move.

A former teacher, principal and superintendent in Ohio, Smith came to Minneapolis in 1997 to be director of teaching and learning. He later became an assistant principal at Washburn High School and Anthony Middle School before becoming principal of Southwest in fall 2003.

Smith said he feels privileged and humbled to have been at Southwest. He said students have bought into the school’s culture and that he appreciates walking down the halls and hearing the depth of their conversations.

“Ten years from now, this will be a place I can look back on and be very proud of,” he said.

The district has appointed Karen Wells as interim principal for the 2018-19 school year. Wells retired as a building principal in 2014 and has since been “instrumental in coaching and mentoring principals in leadership development,” Cecilia Saddler, deputy chief of academics, leadership and learning, wrote in a letter to families.

The district will engage the school community and staff members later in the school year in a search for the next principal, Saddler wrote.