A permanent hire is now in place to lead Peabody's largest elementary school -- Tracy Smith.
The 41-year-old educator and mother of three boys was revealed at Tuesday night's School Committee meeting as the new principal for the Thomas Carroll Elementary School. Smith has worked in Peabody for the past four years as a housemaster at Higgins Middle School.
Smith said principalship has long been a goal of hers and she can't envision a better place to begin that next phase of her career than at the Carroll School. There are 580 students enrolled in grades K-5 at the school this year.
"I cannot wait to become embedded in the community of Carroll School with the families of the children and teachers," she said. She later told reporters that her philosophy is simply putting the needs of children and individuals first.
Superintendent Joseph Mastrocola praised Smith as a top educator and a perfect fit for the job, noting her experience in both middle school and elementary school.
"Tracy's experience and knowledge of our school district and her organizational and management skillset is a perfect match for us," he said.
Mastrocola added that her approach to collaborating with colleagues and working with students and parents on positive instructional programs would be invaluable to the transition now at the school.
"Her passion for this city and this district is undeniable," he said, and added that he would personally be helping mentor Smith as she takes over as principal.
Smith worked for 10 years at an elementary school in Saugus in special education and fourth grade before coming to Peabody. She has degrees from Salem State University and Wheelock College.
Smith grew up in Beverly and graduated from Beverly High, but now lives in Peabody with her husband Matt and their children. Their sons attend the South School.
Cara Murtagh was the school's principal until her promotion to Assistant Superintendent last summer. Shortly thereafter, retired principal Paul Guerrette was hired as an interim and the search began for a permanent hire.
Nearly 40 candidates applied for the job, along with the post at the South School (which was eventually filled by Katelin Kennedy), and three finalists each were identified by screening committees.
Smith was in that initial roster of finalists, but just at the South School. Kennedy was hired for that job and the Carroll School position was advertised again with Mastrocola encouraging the other finalists to apply again.