Smith Elementary School Principal Kim Simco is the 2023 Arkansas Association of Elementary School Principals Service Above and Beyond Award recipient.
Lenett Thrasher, AAESP Learning Services and Operations director, and Dr. Jared Cleveland, Springdale Public Schools superintendent, presented Simco with the award Feb. 23 at a surprise assembly in the school's cafeteria.
The AAESP selects a pre-K to 12th grade Arkansas principal who’s made a personal contribution or sacrifice that’s resulted in a significant impact on their school community for the recognition annually. The award is in honor of Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Hochsprung of Newtown, Conn., who gave her life in service to her school community.
Thrasher shared some of why Smith’s principal of 16 years was selected for the award.
“She runs her school with the mantra ‘relationships first’ and is determined to ensure that our school is a safe, loving, supportive place where students and adults alike are treated with respect and have their needs met,” Thrasher said of Simco. “She knows all her students by name and knows the families of those in her building. If she becomes aware of a need, she personally fills it, and she constantly works to mobilize the school and local community to support this effort as well.”
Students are at the heart of her efforts as principal, Simco said.
“This is what I do,” she said of caring for students and their education. “I cannot do what I do without the great teachers and staff that teach at Smith Elementary School.”
The entire school turned out for the surprise assembly, which included an award presentation, a video featuring student comments, a school choir performance of “You Lift Me Up” and the Smith school song. The assembly was followed by a reception.
The event was also attended by Justin Swope, George Elementary School Principal and AAESP board member, Springdale School Board members and district administrators.
Smith Elementary School serves about 464 pre-K through fifth grade students. Springdale Public Schools is the largest school district in Arkansas with more than 22,000 students.
The AAESP is an organization open to principals and those employed in professional work related to an elementary school principal, according to the association’s website. The business league is based out of Little Rock.
Dr. Jared Cleveland, Springdale Public Schools superintendent, Lenett Thrasher, AAESP Learning Services and Operations director, Kim Simco, Smith Elementary School principal, and Justin Swope, George Elementary School Principal and AAESP board member, pause for a group photo Feb. 23 following a surprise award assembly.