SOUTHWEST FORSYTH -- Opening a new elementary school, especially to Forsyth County standards, is no small feat, but Todd Smith knows something about Forsyth County elementary schools.
Smith was named principal of Brandywine Elementary School, the county’s newest K-5 school, in November. Luckily, this isn’t his first go-around at this level.
Previously, Smith worked at Sharon – including the school’s opening – Midway and Settles Bridge elementary schools before returning to Midway to serve as principal, a position he held for nine years.
“Having lived in a couple of different places and next door in Gwinnett, Forsyth County, the thing I love about it is it’s still a small community even though it’s growing,” he said. “Forsyth County as a school system is on the cutting edge of technology, curriculum, facilities, so it’s exciting to be part of that.”
Smith grew up in Pennsylvania, evident by the Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia in his office. He moved to Georgia in the 1990s and began to work for Forsyth County Schools in 2003, where he has worked at elementary schools since.
Smith said he likes working with the younger students because they still are excited to learn.
“I like elementary school because the kids are just fun to be around, they still love learning,” he said. “We like to create an environment where we hope kids enjoy coming to school and we want to make it a fun experience and yet they can still learn.”
After months of meetings, construction and prep work, the school officially opened on Aug. 4, which Smith described as “a great, smooth opening.”
“That’s actually the easy part, having the kids here and allowing the teachers to do what they know how to do,” he said. “The physical building was the challenge and making sure everything was ready and running.”
Not surprising for Forsyth County, the biggest issue in the first leg of the school year has been traffic.
“Just getting everybody here on time and getting everybody home on time, really that’s been the biggest challenge out of everything, just adjusting to a new school that wasn’t in existence,” he said, “then you add that into busy Forsyth County.”
The new school offers some of the latest technology, including wireless connectivity, new desk designs and interactive white boards, but Smith said without the community the school would not be anywhere near where it is.
“It takes a lot of prep work,” he said. “If it weren’t for the community members reaching out to help support us, administration at the community level, other principals at other schools donating funds to help us just put a school together … it’s been a challenge, but it’s been exciting.”