For 19 years, Dr. Christopher Smart (pictured above with Dr. Carol Wyatt, Jesuit's former Vice President of Professional Development and Instructional Technology) has served Jesuit High School as a superb and seasoned administrator, a loyal colleague, and a true friend to generations of Jesuit students, staff, and parents. This week, the felicitously-titled Dr. Smart announced to the faculty and staff that he has accepted the position of Principal of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, CA. Even as we begin to imagine JHS without Chris Smart (aargh!), we are thrilled for him and his amazing wife Kathy as they head "home" to the Bay Area.
I cannot imagine anyone better prepared to serve as the principal of a dynamic Catholic high school than Chris Smart. I first met Chris in 1996, when he was Athletic Director at Jesuit High in Sacramento, where he also taught AP US History. A few years later, Chris came to serve Jesuit High in Portland, also as AD. In 2005, Chris became Jesuit's Vice Principal for Student Life, overseeing student behavior, attendance, activities, and much more.
For the past seven years, Chris has served as Jesuit's Academic Vice Principal. Chris is organized, deeply compassionate, passionate about learning, and most importantly, a man of unquestioned integrity and an abiding faith in Jesus Christ.
Chris's unparalleled preparation will help advance the O'Dowd mission, just as he has faithfully moved the JHS mission forward for all these years. Chris has studied Theology and History at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and he spent six years studying to be a Jesuit. Chris has a BA in Political Science from Santa Clara, an MA in Private School Administration from the University of San Francisco, and a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Portland.
For several years, I had the privilege of team-teaching Speech and Debate and coaching Jesuit's Mock Trial team with Dr. Smart. As a teacher, Chris is demanding, inspiring, caring, and incredibly well-grounded in the twin disciplines of History and Public Speaking.
Having Chris Smart as Jesuit's Academic Vice Principal and Ignatian Educator-in-Chief is a blessing that is hard to quantify. Chris embodies what we call cura personalis: care for each student and staff member as an individual. Indeed, the question we hear most often in our hallway as Chris works with students, parents, and faculty is "How can I help you?"
Chris Smart's professional career models an openness to growth, as we see again in his acceptance of this important position at Bishop O'Dowd. In his note to the faculty, Chris told us, "Early in my ministry as a Catholic educator, a Jesuit priest and colleague told me, 'Chris, you can never know when you will be called to serve in a new role. Just remain open to the Spirit, pray, and be prepared to serve when called.' In the spirit of this sage advice, and in response to the call of the Spirit, I would like to inform you that, effective July 1, 2019, I will begin a new ministry as the Principal of Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, California."
In so many ways, Chris Smart represents the best that our Church and our profession have to offer. For many of us, the news of his appointment at O'Dowd is bittersweet, as we celebrate with Chris and Kathy, and begin to envision the huge shoes that Chris will leave behind. We will deeply miss our friend.
Still, with faith in God and faith in Chris, we will at the end of this academic year joyfully bid Dr. Christopher Smart Godspeed as he continues his journey of service to the Church and to the young people he so loves.
Please join us in congratulating Dr. Chris Smart on this very well-deserved new leadership role.
Paul J. Hogan