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Upper Merion Area School Board Appoints New Superintendent

The Upper Merion Area School Board is very pleased to announce that after a rigorous search process, it has selected Dr. Tamara Thomas Smith as its next superintendent of schools. Dr. Smith has served as Assistant Superintendent in the Cheltenham School District since 2016.

Dr. Smith comes to this leadership role with 26 years of experience as a district-level and school-based administrator and as an instructional and operational leader and educator in three different school districts.

The Upper Merion School Board unanimously approved her appointment at their January Business Meeting held on January 8th. An official start date is to be determined but is expected in March 2024.

“We are excited by Dr. Smith’s humanistic and collaborative approach to leadership and communications, as well as her track record of positive accomplishments,” said School Board President Maggie Phillips. “She is dedicated to guiding school districts forward in student achievement, equity, and operational success. Her range of leadership experiences is impressive, and we feel her skills and background are an ideal fit for Upper Merion.”

In Cheltenham, Dr. Smith led the Office of Education, including curriculum and instruction, assessment, student services, instructional technology, professional learning, innovation, and federal programs. She was heavily involved in creating and monitoring the district’s strategic plan, and served as its diversity, equity, belonging and inclusion liaison, leading much of Cheltenham’s equity initiatives.

Dr. Smith was Deputy Superintendent in the Chester Upland School District from 2013 – 2016, and prior to that was a professional development facilitator and a school principal in the School District of Philadelphia. She also worked in a variety of teaching and leadership roles in Philadelphia schools.

Dr. Smith holds a doctorate in Education from St. Joseph’s University, a master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Arcadia. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from La Salle University and is a graduate of Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood. Dr. Smith is heavily involved in numerous professional organizations, many with an emphasis on equity and inclusion.

“I am honored and inspired by the opportunity to lead with passion, dedication, and a commitment to the success of every student in the Upper Merion Area School District,” said Dr. Smith. “I am truly driven by the belief that education transforms lives. I’m eager to get to know this school community and work alongside the talented educators who make a daily difference for students here.”

The Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU) conducted the search for a new superintendent. In its work surveying the school community about the qualities most desired in a new superintendent, several themes emerged: Fostering a culture of trust, respect, and transparency, and communicating effectively with all stakeholders.

“We know that our community seeks a ‘student first’ approach that includes helping all students to achieve academic success and have equal access to opportunities,” said Phillips. “At the same time, we are seeking a competent, inspiring communicator who can motivate, lead, and connect with our community. We believe we have found that in Dr. Smith.”

Smith will transition into the role of superintendent with support from outgoing superintendent Dr. John Toleno, who is retiring.