Dr. Dede Smith received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Southern Mississippi. She began her teaching career in the Forrest County School District as a kindergarten teacher during the pilot year of kindergarten implementation in Mississippi. Dr. Smith returned to the University of Southern Mississippi where she received a Master of Education with an emphasis in early childhood education. In addition, Dr. Smith also completed requirements for specialist and doctoral degrees at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Smith began teaching in the Petal School District in 1992. She taught kindergarten, second, and fourth grades. She began serving as Instructional Coach at W.L. Smith Elementary in 2005 and moved to assistant principal at Petal Elementary in 2008. Dr. Smith was named principal at Petal Primary School for the 2010-2011 school year. During her tenure at Petal Primary School, areas of focus included the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, data-driven decision making, strengthening early literacy, and supporting the development of students’ emotional maturity. Dr. Smith served in this capacity until March 2013 when she was named Assistant Superintendent of the Petal School District. Recently Dr. Smith also assumed the role of Director of the Petal School District's Center for Families and Children.
As Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Smith’s primary responsibilities are professional development, support of elementary programs, ensuring the district's compliance with specific curriculum-related accreditation requirements, facilitating the implementation and data analysis of NWEA benchmark assessments, and supporting the work of the English Language Arts teacher cohort.
As Director of the Center for Families and Children, Dr. Smith oversees the daily operations of the Center, supports the work of the Parents as Teachers educators, supervises the district's pre-k initative through the implementation of the Early Learning Collaborative grant, facilitates the partnership between the Petal School District and the area pre-k providers, and works with the Petal Excel by Five to ensure the availability of quality early childhood learning opportunities for the youngest citizens of the community.
Dr. Smith also serves as an adjunct faculty member at William Carey University, where she teaches in the Instructional Leadership and Educational Leadership Departments.
Dr. Smith has made Petal her home since 1988. She and her husband, Todd, have three children who successfully graduated from the Petal School District. Most recently, Dr. Smith and her husband, Todd, are enjoying being the proud grandparents of Presley Ann, Grayson, and Benton. During her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with family.