5 things you didn’t know about BRIAN SMITHBy NIKKI ROWELL,
He has a collection of 120 coffee mugs from students from the past 23 years. When he isn’t working, you can find him in the kitchen cooking up new recipes for his family. He is working on his
doctorate at Belhaven University. On Sundays, he enjoys teaching Sunday school at church. A life-long fan of Legos, Smith enjoys building models with Legos. Some of his favorites are “Star Wars.”
Every weekday morning, you can find Brian Smith out on Pinehurst Street in Jackson welcoming students as they arrive at First Presbyterian Day School.
“They’ll come by and give me a hug, a high wave, a wave, a fist bump,” Smith said.
Then, after the school day has ended, Smith is on duty as students are picked up.
“What happens in between is a mix every day,” Smith said of his workday. As Head of School at First Presbyterian Day School, Smith wears a lot of different hats.
Smith moved to Mississippi 23 years ago and spent 16 of those years at Madison-Ridgeland Academy, where he taught English and Bible and coached football and baseball and a “variety of administrative activities.”
He then moved to Hattiesburg for five years while he worked at Presbyterian Christian School as secondary principal.
Now, he is in the middle of his second year as Head of School at First Presbyterian Day School. Smith says the school’s mission is what attracted him most.
“First Pres has never wavered in 54 years from their mission to present Christ to young people,” he said. “That was the reason. The three parts of the First Pres mission are to plant seeds of Christ-likeness in the hearts of young boys and girls; pursue academic excellence and prepare hearts for future service.”
His role as Head of School has been a challenging one, but also rewarding.
“Every day is different, which is a great thing,” he said. “I’ve never had the same day twice in education. I’m blessed that I have an unbelievable leadership team, unbelievable staff and faculty. That makes my job a lot easier.”
“The parents, the students, everyone here has been amazing,” he added. “Not only welcoming, but helpful.”
There are approximately 687 students at First Pres, from K-3 through sixth grade.
According to Smith, it’s not just First Pres’ mission that sets the school apart, but also some of the programs and opportunities provided there.
“We try to do service opportunities every year to teach our young people how we can reach out to the Jackson area and the area around us,” Smith said.
Currently, the school is invested in God’s Haven, a local organization that works with Jackson-area youth.
“Right now, our mission is two-fold for this semester, both through our tithing at chapel and young people making donations,” he said. “This is all student-driven. We’re going to try to provide bibles for everyone there.”
They will also contribute funds for meals and set aside a day to go out and serve the food.
Smith is also proud of the dyslexia immersion program at First Pres.
“It’s not just providing therapy,” Smith said. “The students are engaged in a traditional classroom setting, and we provide a licensed therapist for them for the core classes. We want them to understand that everyone learns differently.”
“A school that was founded on and continues to teach God’s word,” Smith said of First Pres. “Everything we do is taught through the lens of God’s word. It’s an opportunity for parents to have what they’re teaching at home and in church reinforced in school.”
Next year, the school will begin building a new gymnasium, which will have staging on one end for performances and meetings. It will also include 10 classrooms and a multipurpose room for academic use, such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) classes.