Pasadena, CA -- Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Jon R. Gundry announced today that Jennifer Smith, Ed.D. has been named principal of Norma Coombs Alternative School. Dr. Smith has served as interim principal of Norma Coombs since August 2013.
"Under Dr. Smith's leadership, the Norma Coombs community strengthened and united in support of students and learning," said Gundry. "I look forward to the school's continued success with her at the helm."
Smith spent 10 years as a software engineer for the defense industry before changing careers to become an educator. She joined PUSD in 1998 as a computer and math intervention teacher at Wilson Middle School. Smith subsequently spent five years as a teacher on special assignment at the Los Angeles County Office of Education, where she worked with students to close the achievement gap and prepare students for college and other post-secondary opportunities at over 40 schools across Los Angeles County.
In 2008, Smith was appointed administrator of the Freshman Academy at the reinvented John Muir High School. She was responsible for all aspects of the ninth grade class, including academics, student support and discipline. She worked closely with community partners to advocate for the needs of students and link them with resources available in the community. From 2009 until 2012, Smith served as assistant principal of Marshall Fundamental Secondary School, where she was responsible for a boot camp that prepared students for the California High School Exit Exam. During her tenure, the achievement gap between student groups narrowed and achievement by children with disabilities rose 49 points over two years. In January 2013 she was appointed interim principal of McKinley K-8 School.
"It is my distinct pleasure to continue to serve the beautifully diverse community of Norma Coombs," said Smith. "Together with the motivated and energizing students, knowledgeable and skilled staff, and passionate parents, I know that Norma Coombs will continue to be one of the shining stars of PUSD."
Smith earned a Bachelor's of Science degree in math and computer science from California State University, Long Beach in 1988. She earned teaching and administrative credentials from Point Loma University, including a Master's in leadership in 2004 and received a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern California in 2007.