W. Richard Smith
W. Richard Smith has been recognised for his work as the deputy superintendent of the Sanger Unified School District, which serves more than 12 000 students and has a large population of minority and high-poverty students. When Rich joined Sanger in 2004, the district had just been named one of the 98 poorest-performing school districts in California and was designated a Program Improvement District under NCLB. Under Rich's leadership and guidance, Sanger ascended from that status two years later.
Since 2004, Sanger has experienced academic achievement growth every year. The district is one of the highest performing in California's Central Valley and has been recognised across the United States for its success with English learners, special education students and students of poverty.
Rich has worked in public education for more than 37 years. He has taught at the elementary and high school levels, served as a special education teacher and has extensive experience in English language development. He was principal of four elementary schools over a ten-year period, was a high school administrator for nine years and worked at the district office level for ten years as an assistant superintendent for human resources, associate superintendent for educational services and deputy superintendent.
Rich garnered the 1998 Crystal Award for the Clovis Unified School District for his work at the high school level. In 2010, the Kremen School of Education at California State University–Fresno named him a distinguished alumnus, and in 2014 he won the 'Top Dog' Award for his work with students of poverty in California's Central Valley.