Amanda Smith has faced the unexpected – to say the least.
The Stoner Creek Elementary School principal of three years has navigated the ebbs and flows of both a pandemic and natural disaster with strength – and lots of communication. Her school was left unusable by tornado damage in March 2020. Stoner Creek Elementary has operated out of Mt. Juliet Middle School this past school year; however, plans are in place to move back to its campus in a temporary location in August.
“Our SCE gym and a new wing at West Wilson Middle School are in good standing. The plan is for us to use the west wing from WWMS and our gym for the first few weeks of school and then move into portables known as the ‘Bobcat Village,’ ” she explained.
Smith credited her staff, students and families with “not missing a beat.”
“I have always said that it is the people that make the school, not the school itself,” she shared. “As far as staff and families, I think it goes back to being transparent, having frequent communication and keeping a positive outlook on the situation at hand. Cultivating good thoughts with a positive attitude and remaining optimistic help our minds stay positive. We might not be able to control the situation, but we can control ourselves.”
Smith, originally from Cookeville, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Cumberland University. She recalled a special teacher in her own life, Sue Pecora, and how it influenced her career choice.
“When I think back to who helped pave my way in this career, I always go back to my fourth-grade year with Mrs. Pecora. I remember her reading to us, making rock pets and her complimenting my poetry writing,” she said. “As I grew older, I knew I wanted to give back these same feelings I had as a student to students of my own.”
Smith and her husband, Michael, have four children: Alaina, 17; Adeline, 13; Anniston, 10; and Averly James, 6.
When she isn’t at school, Smith enjoys exercising at Sports Village and watching her daughters play sports or perform.
The women she admires most are her mother, Donna Byers Dennis, and her grandmothers, Mildred Dennis and IV Byers.
“Without these ladies influencing my life I would not be who I am today. These ladies taught me strength, perseverance and kindness,” Smith added. “They showed me what hard work looks like and that by not giving up you can do anything.”