Former superintendent leaves his legacy

By Ellenore Holbrook — Former Plain Local Superintendent Christopher Smith passed away on Nov. 2 at the age of 51. He was diagnosed with Leukemia on Oct. 22 of 2012.

He was born Aug. 29, 1961 in Massillon to Erna Smith and the late John C. Smith. Smith graduated from Massillon Washington High School, earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Akron and a Master of Education Administration degree from Ashland University.

Smith worked in a variety of educational careers in Perry, Canton City and Plain. He became the Superintendent of Plain in 2006.

He worked tirelessly to helped pass the operating levy in the spring of 2009, a levy that had been on the ballot multiple times since the spring of 2005 but was never passed.

Smith was Superintendent when the high school was opened in 2006, and he strived to make that transition for teachers as smooth as possible.

“He always asked how you were doing and he meant it. He treated the staff like family,” Entertainment and Technologies teacher Tamara Traut said.

Teacher in-service days were also very popular for Smith and he tried to make them interesting.

“In-services were fun. He always talked about his family and kids and showed pictures to the staff. He was a family man,” Spano said.

Smith visited the high school fairly often and tried to connect with students the best he could. He often said a draw back to being an administrator was not being able to see students on a daily basis.

Smith was very supportive of the arts in Plain Local and helped initiate art programs within the middle schools after Pleasant View School for the Arts closed.

“He understood the arts like nobody else. He understood what it took to put together a well done product,” Drama teacher Carla Derr said.

The theatre in the high school was also developed with the help of Smith.

“He always made sure we had the equipment we needed,” Traut said.

Smith left Plain Local schools in Aug. of 2010 to become Curriculum Director at Canton City Schools, and later became the Superintendent in Feb. 2012. Current Superintendent Brent May succeeded him.

“I worked with him for about three and a half years. He was a role model to me because he always tried to balance work and home responsibilities. He brought people together and was always striving to move forward,” May said.

His family is accepting donations for a scholarship to be set up in his honor.  Donations can be made at First Merit bank. A memorial service will take place on Nov. 10 at 10 a.m. at the auditorium in Washington High School.

The district and teachers of not only Plain Local, but also much of Stark County will miss Smith.

“The arts and education world has really taken a hit,” Derr said.

 [Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]