Smith ready to take on challenge at Bonham

Kamye Smith, new principal at Bonham Middle School, poses for a photo in the lobby of the campus. She is looking forward to the challenge of instilling a culture of excellence that will stand the test of time. (Ruth Campbell/Odessa American)

Having been in elementary schools for many years, Kamye Smith felt like it was time to head to middle school.

Smith is now principal at Bonham Middle School, a campus that has seen plenty of change at the top spot in the last few years.

Smith herself has moved around during her tenure with Ector County ISD serving at seven different schools in her 15 years with the district. She was at Midland ISD for two years as a fourth-grade teacher at South Elementary School.

At ECISD, she has been a teacher, a campus curriculum facilitator, assistant principal and principal.

“I think that there’s a big transition from elementary and I was interested in seeing that next level in the kids, in their academics, transitioning and working with students at the intermediate level before they continue their career to high school,” Smith said.

Predictions are that Bonham will have 750 students this coming year. At Blanton Elementary, where she was before, she had about 515 students.

She replaces Juan Dominguez who took a principal position at Midland ISD.

Smith said the change from elementary to middle school has been good so far.

“The kids are the same. The focus is the same getting the students looking at their data and focusing on the instructional side that we need. As far as the the operations, it’s a little bit different. What’s different is getting into the extracurricular activities — the band, orchestra, art and athletics. That’s new. But as far as the operation, as far as the students, it’s still the same, focusing on that academic side,” Smith said.

She added that she’s interested in looking at the whole child.

“I think it’s really important to get those extracurriculars involved. In an elementary, that’s the piece that is missing, because they can’t be involved in those things. But now you get involved in those things and you can work with those groups where you can really see the students and their interest and engage those other areas with their academics,” Smith said.

Because Bonham has historically underperformed, Smith said she plans to focus on student academics and providing consistent routines for students and staff members.

She wants to instill a culture of excellence and clear communication to stand the test of time.

“I think that the community is going to see a different message coming from Bonham and they’ll see Bonham in a different light as far as … We are building a culture of excellence and the community will be able to see that through all aspects — our athletics, our band, our academics. Just talking with our staff, we will be a united team and providing that culture; that excellence. That’s the goal,” Smith said.

Smith has 68 people on staff.

“I have three APs (assistant principals). I have two that are returning (that are) very strong, and one that’s coming in, and then two deans. … I think with that strong leadership we can provide those structures,” she added.

She has turned campuses around before. Smith said she looks at what a campus needs and provides the structures for success.

It’s being a servant leader, providing the tools that the team needs to do what’s needed.

“That’s what makes it exciting to be at Bonham,” Smith said.

“I love the challenge. I love that underdog story … just to come out from the bottom to be on top. That’s exciting and it’s exciting to watch the staff and the students and just the hard work that they put in. I’ve watched it at many schools and I’m eager to see what happens with Bonham,” she added.

Raised in Crane, Smith graduated from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls with a social work degree and a master’s degree in educational leadership from University of Texas Permian Basin. She was alternatively certified through UTPB.

Her father was a coach and science teacher in Crane and her late mother was a diagnostician at Crane ISD.

Smith said her parents always told her she was born to lead and to be an educator.

“My dad always references the passion for learning and for students. That’s where I carry my mom’s memory with me. She was a hard worker. She wanted what’s best for all students,” she added.

Her mother saw special education students for who they were and provided them with what they needed to compete just like a general education student.

“That’s why I also see that we’ve got to meet the needs of every student. It doesn’t matter (their) disability or anything. We’ve got to give them what they need,” Smith said.

Smith worked for Child Protective Services for about 10 years before going into education.

“My passion had always been to work with students and adults just to provide them a better opportunity from the situations that they were in,” she added.

As an investigator, she tried to change their situation, but as an educator, she’s trying to influence their future.

“I saw it as a different way and that’s what my goal is to help them see a different path to their future, whether that be academic, going to college or to work. I wanted to tap into that potential,” Smith said.

Executive Director of Leadership Erin Bueno said she’s glad to have Smith at Bonham.

“Kamye Smith’s combination of initiative, action-oriented mindset, and instructional expertise is exactly what Bonham needs. Her ability to identify and address challenges head-on, coupled with her dedication to fostering a culture of continuous improvement, sets her apart as a catalyst for change and results,” Bueno said.

“Her deep understanding of effective teaching methods, curriculum development, and student engagement strategies equips her with the tools to create meaningful change at Bonham. Staff, parents, and students will appreciate her drive and energy,” she added.

Smith is married to her husband, Darryl, a captain with the Odessa Police Department. Together, they have six children, five girls and one boy, and three grandsons.

The two met when she was an investigator with CPS and he was a detective with Odessa Police Department.