Jim SmokrovichI have been a proud, active member of the “Itasca Student Success Initiative” since its inception.  Like my position as MASSP Coordinator, I see my involvement in this capacity as an essential duty toward student success for all.  It is so rewarding to see our local initiative, and our state/national work heading in the same direction.  My hope for student success for all is powered by these two quotes:  “It takes a village to raise a child” and “Never look down upon someone unless you are helping them up”.

Jim Smokrovich

By Nathan Bergstedt Herald-Review | Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013 6:00 am

This is hardly the beginning of his extracurricular principaling career; just the next phase.

For the past four years, Grand Rapids High School Principal Jim Smokrovich has been on the Executive Committee for the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP), this past year serving as Committee President. As such, he has traveled to Washington, D.C., where he met with legislators and other individuals interested in national education, but his primary responsibilities were statewide across Minnesota. Now that his year as president is up, Smokrovich has just been appointed to serve as the MASSP Coordinator, making him the liaison between the MASSP and the other states in the country, as well as the national organization, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

To the best of his recollection, Smokrovich said that he’s the first of his northern Minnesota colleagues to hold the Coordinator position on the Executive Committee.

“The last time there was a president of the state association, which I just completed, was many years ago and it was Jack Gunderson out of Deer River,” said Smokrovich. “However, Mike Finco out of Hibbing was just elected this past year. So we’ve had two northern principals in the Executive Committee just recently.”

Finco is currently serving as secretary on the committee.

Because his new position is so directly linked to communication with other people invested in education throughout the country, Smokrovich said that he is going to have to get more used to Twitter and other social networking sites as he learns the ins-and-outs of the coordinator position. Much of the information he is going to be sharing will have to do with educational best practices, as well as other trends that are happening in the different regions of the country and nationally.

One difference between this job and his duties as president is going to be a larger amount of travel. As coordinator, he will in part be responsible for lobbying on behalf of the MASSP in Washington, where he will be meeting with Senators Franken and Klobuchar on matters of education.

When discussing his new role, Smokrovich spoke with excitement about the opportunities to make a difference on the national level, working with law makers in the nation’s capital. When asked if politics was one of his passions, he responded succinctly by stating that “I enjoy fighting for the things that I believe are right.”

“But I’m not going to be running for governor in the near future,” he added with a laugh.

A large reason for why he is excited about the new position is because of some of the bad press that people in the educational field have received in recent years, because he sees this as an opportunity to change things around in some way. By becoming involved with organizations such as the MASSP, Smokrovich is hoping to do his part in “bringing back respect to, not only principals, but teachers.”

“I’ll never forget the time that Pawlenty came out with this commercial that depicted the ‘assistant to the assistant to the assistant of the principal,’” said Smokrovich. “That was during a time of many, many reductions across the state of Minnesota in education.”

Despite the large responsibilities, Smokrovich said that his role as MASSP Executive Committee Coordinator won’t negatively affect his abilities as Grand Rapids High School Principal, as the time requirements will only mean that he will have to miss a few days of school. To that end, he wanted to thank the ISD 318 School Board and Superintendent Joe Silko for being supportive of his additional education endeavors.