Principal of Cape Christian leaving after 16 years

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Beverly Smart is leaving her position as principal of Cape Christian School after 16 years. (Fred Lynch)

Beverly Smart has watched a generation of students grow up as she shepherded her small private school through expansion and budgetary challenges.

When the final bell rings this afternoon, school's out for Mrs. Smart.

"It is difficult to leave the people," said Smart, who has served as principal of Cape Christian School for the past 16 years. "In a position like this you get to know a lot more people in the community and see families grow."

Smart is moving to Ozark, Mo., where her husband, the Rev. Jack Smart, longtime local director of Teen Challenge International Mid-America, will take a leadership post with parent organization Teen Challenge USA, the Christian-based drug addiction rehabilitation program's headquarters. Bev Smart's successor is Jalon Lies.

Growth has been part of Smart's lesson plan since assuming the administrator role. She led Cape Christian's transition from a kindergarten-through sixth-grade school to a private education center that now serves pre-K to eighth grade. Enrollment has grown from 111 students to 140 during her tenure, and the school's staff has expanded from six full-time teachers to 23 employees.

Under Smart's direction, Cape Christian became an accredited private school through the Association of Christian Schools International and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

For Smart, Cape Christian has been a member of the family, long before she became principal of the school.

"My children had attended here and I served on the school's advisory board, so I was familiar with all the inner workings of the school," she said. "I fell in love with the children, just watching them grow and learn."

Like so many administrators in private schools, Smart has struggled with budget constraints.

"We want to meet the needs of the people of our community who want to be here, so we don't want to set tuition too high, yet we need to pay teacher salaries, utility bills, those sorts of things," she said. "It's a difficult position to be in."

Teri Goodman, a junior high teacher at Cape Christian School, worked in the office with Smart before she took a teaching position eight years ago. Goodman said she has never met anyone better equipped to handle the challenges of Christian school administration.

"She is without a doubt the best boss I've ever had, and I have had many different jobs over the years," Goodman said. "She is truly gifted by her ability to let God control things, to seek his wisdom and follow his leading."

Terry Maire, a junior high teacher at the school for 17 years, describes Smart as a "lady of integrity" who is extremely education-driven.

"She expects the best out of everybody, and she gives the best. She has very high standards for the teachers and the students," Maire said. "We are going to miss her very much."

Smart, educators say, is an integral part of Cape Christian's culture, serving as principal for nearly half of the school's 34 years of operation. She counts the connections and friendships she has made as the crown to her accomplishments in education. Smart said she finds it rewarding to see the next generation of students pass through the halls of the school she has called home for so long.

"I'm now seeing the students of former Cape Christian School students, those who have had children themselves and are choosing to put their children in the school. That's very gratifying," she said.

A reception for Smart will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. today in the gymnasium of Cape Christian School.


Pertinent address:

1855 Perryville Road, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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