Steve Smallwood’s top goal when he became principal at Elizabeth­town High School was to build consistency.

He had hoped to stay in the principal role for four to five years, long enough to see a class start and finish at the high school.

In his 10 years at Eliza­bethtown, Small­wood has seen seven classes from their freshman years to graduation.

“I’m very proud I was able to do that,” he said.

Small­wood was promoted Friday to assistant superintendent of Elizabethtown Inde­pendent Schools. District Superintendent Jon Ballard announced the hire after school before staff departed for spring break. He said Smallwood was a natural fit for the position.

“He knows our district and knows the type of situation this position deals with,” Ballard said. “ ... He’s a kids-first person all the way.”

Ballard said he’ll meet with the school’s site-based, decision-making council to start the principal selection process. He hopes to have a principal hired by the end of the school year.

Smallwood is replacing Nate Huggins, who recently was named superintendent of Caldwell County Schools. As assistant superintendent, Smallwood will oversee transportation, maintenance, construction and alternative programs, among other duties.

Smallwood said he was interested in the position because he wanted to help more people.

“(I wanted to) make a difference and move the district forward,” he said.

As assistant superintendent, he said he’s looking forward to reaching out to the community more and making connections with families throughout the district.

“(I’m also looking forward) to providing resources to families who need extra assistance for them to be successful in our school district,” he said.

Smallwood won’t start the new position until July 1, but said he’ll pulling double duty until then to learn the ropes.

“I can’t thank Mr. Huggins enough,” Smallwood said. “I learned a lot from him.”

He said Hug­gins has been pivotal to the district’s success, and he wants to build on that.

Last year, Smallwood was a finalist for a superintendent job but withdrew his application. He said he didn’t pursue the position because he didn’t want to leave the district.

“I’m in love with the Elizabethtown Inde­pendent Schools district,” he said.

Ballard said he was glad to keep Smallwood.

“It’s good to be able to give him this opportunity,” he said

Smallwood is leaving Elizabethtown on a high note. The senior class posted a record ACT score of 22.1 and three students had perfect results on the exam. He also implemented a digital learning initiative this year, giving each student a laptop to use in class.

“It didn’t start with just me,” he said. “It starts with a team. ... We have one of the best teams.”

Smallwood said he was proud of the teachers’ hard work over the years. He said other accomplishments include the growth in Elizabethtown’s Advanced Placement programs and dual-credit opportunities.

“I feel like I’m going out and leaving it better than I found,” he said.

Katherine Knott can be reached at 270-505-1747 or

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