Ten Minutes With Kevin Smith
Meet Wilton's new superintendent of schools
Dr. Kevin Smith has a vision for Wilton students: “I want our kids to graduate and be ready to lead in this world, not merely participate.” With quiet confidence and clear direction, the father of five and former Bethel superintendent of schools brings innovative perspectives, ambitious goals, and a compassionate heart to his new post as superintendant of the Wilton public schools.
What is your vision for Wilton’s schools? My goal is to push Wilton to the next level. I believe our mission is to improve outcomes for all kids regardless of where they are on the education spectrum. I’m very much a proponent of 21st-century skills. Students are going to need the habits and minds that allow them to be flexible and tenacious, so I’m looking to work with the staff to transform the education program to accomplish that.
What strengths and challenges have you identified? This community very clearly supports public education. I’ve seen it both with the financial resources and the many ways parents choose to get involved. The caliber of the teaching staff and leadership team is exceptional. I worry about the long-term funding structure for public schools. A system supported almost solely by property taxes worked generations ago. I’m not sure that’s sustainable given the ever-rising costs of public education.
What role does technology play in education? The rise in technology, the increased emphasis on social media, the ability to communicate with people around the globe in real time all present opportunities for schools to change the way they deliver instruction. Teachers are quickly becoming facilitators rather than solely purveyors of knowledge. Their job is to provide experiences for kids to access knowledge and apply it.
What are your thoughts on special education? Our job is to work with families to understand students’ needs and then to align the educational program to the best of our ability. And when they don’t align, it’s our job to find the best opportunity available.
What qualities do you seek in teachers? We need teachers who have a real desire to love children and the interpersonal skills to relate to kids in ways that inspire them to move beyond their comfort zones, to stretch and to grow. Moving kids along an education continuum is very important, but the best teachers inspire students, and when that happens kids go way beyond predefined expectations.
How can the schools best prepare students for college? As we continue to create new ways for kids to dive more deeply into their interests, I think we’ll come to a point when they can specialize sooner, so they won’t necessarily feel the same demand to be all things to all people when applying to college. They will be better choice-makers of what they want out of their future and, therefore, be able to align to the colleges that will best serve their already-defined interests. Giving kids experiences that allow them to be confident and feel a high-level of self-worth is most important.