Dr. Kathy Harris-Smedberg of Bangor School Department Named Maine’s 2024 Assistant Superintendent of the Year

Kathy Harris-Smedberg

From the Maine School Superintendents Association

Maine’s Assistant Superintendent of the Year is a visionary systems thinker and a thoughtful leader. She is creative in her approach to problem-solving and has the unique ability to think big while simultaneously working out structures for successfully putting programs in place to meet the needs of the students in her district. She is incredibly hard-working and naturally models effective leadership. People gravitate to her for direction and for support because she is approachable and open-minded. Administrators view her as a mentor in addition to a supervisor because she advocates and supports growth.

Her primary focus is to support the children in her district through their mission and to provide educational opportunities that inspire students and adults to grow every day. Her goal is to ensure that all students experience personalized and relationship-based opportunities that accelerate learning and foster achievement. Academic excellence, rigor and acceleration for all students is her north star, her plan and purposeful focus.  Known for being relentless about addressing student growth, guiding staff on the use of data to inform instruction has been her foundation to improving student achievement through focused conversations among teachers and administrators.

Understanding the need to address Bangor’s School Department’s youngest learners, Dr. Kathy Harris-Smedberg, Maine’s 2024 Assistant Superintendent of the Year took the lead on ensuring the district would provide full day PreK by 2025 with her eye on laying a foundation of learning and support the district’s youngest learners.

Involving community stakeholders, Kathy led the opening of the health clinic at Bangor Area High School by working directly with an area hospital which resulted in providing much-needed health services and emotional support to students.

In the fall of 2020, Kathy stepped in as the Interim Superintendent, while continuing in her role as Assistant Superintendent. She reached out to the Administrative Team and asked for assistance, delegating tasks, asking questions, and relying on the team to make sure she was able to keep the drive and focus of the district while bringing more of her personal leadership and management style to the position. The staff consistently said that Kathy was “the best of both worlds” meaning that she held true to the expectations of the Superintendency, but she also brought a humility and inter-personal approach that welcomed teachers and staff.

Kathy exemplifies the qualities of school leadership that we all value. She is a role model for what a leader should be: intelligent, humble, thoughtful, and caring. She is explicit in her expectations, but understandable in their achievement. She cares deeply about the mission and vision of the Bangor school department, and holds true to that in every conversation, interaction, and decision. She cares deeply about kids, and it guides every decision she makes.