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Dr. Smith speaking at USC


Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Superintendent Dr. Wesley Smith was inducted into the Dean’s Superintendents Advisory Group (DSAG) Hall of Fame during a “Celebration of Trojan Leadership” hosted by the University of Southern California (USC) Rossier School of Education on January 25. The honor recognizes Dr. Smith’s significant contributions to public education throughout his 25-year career. 

"I am deeply humbled and honored by this recognition that extends beyond me to the entire educational community. This serves as a testament to our collective pursuit of excellence. Let us persist in our unwavering dedication, inspiring one another and our students to deliver a standard of education that truly embodies quality and sets the foundation for a brighter future," Dr. Smith said.

Dr. Smith, who earned his doctorate in educational leadership from USC in 2005, is the current chair of the DSAG Executive Committee and a member of the Rossier Board of Counselors. Before joining NMUSD in 2021, he served as the executive director of the Association of California School Administrators, the nation’s largest umbrella organization for school leaders. 

At NMUSD, Dr. Smith teamed up with the Board of Education to prioritize improvement in academic achievement, expanding whole-child support, more meaningfully communicating and engaging with constituents, and developing maintenance and facility master plans.

Dr. Wesley Smith (center) accepts an award at USC

He believes that strong reading and literacy skills in elementary students lay the foundation for future learning. Under Dr. Smith’s leadership, students’ English language arts test scores have increased, and secondary students’ enrollment in Advanced Placement courses has grown. As of June 2023, the graduation rate for the district had risen to 97 percent overall, with a 100 percent rate at two schools. During Dr. Smith’s tenure, Davis Magnet School and Early College High School both achieved National Blue Ribbon School status, while Corona del Mar High School and Costa Mesa High School were named on the AP School Honor Roll. In addition, 10 schools were recognized by the California Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports (PBIS) Coalition for successfully implementing exemplary systems to improve positive student behaviors. Plus, the district earned a California School Board Association Golden Bell Award for its graduation coach program, introduced in 2022.

Dr. Smith also fosters strong district partnerships with the cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach and local community organizations to promote the safety and well-being of students and their families. 

"I am proud to acknowledge the remarkable contributions made by our esteemed superintendent, Dr. Wesley Smith. His unwavering support and dedication, innovative leadership, and tireless efforts have positively transformed the lives of countless students and educators within our community. Under his leadership, our Newport-Mesa teams have consistently championed excellence and ensured that every student is seen, valued and heard,” said NMUSD Board President Carol Crane.

Before joining NMUSD, Dr. Smith served as superintendent of Morgan Hill Unified School District and as superintendent, assistant superintendent and principal for Cascade Union Elementary School District. Dr. Smith was a high school English, English language development and Spanish teacher, as well as a football and baseball coach. He has also served as an adjunct professor at USC, Shasta Community College and National University.    

“Congratulations and thank you, Dr. Smith, for your exceptional leadership in collaboration, growth and continuous improvement, making us a shining example for others to emulate,” said Crane.