Herbert Mills Elementary School principal Teresa Smith knows how to get to know students -- you learn their names, even if the enrollment list shows more than 350 students.

Herbert Mills Elementary School principal Teresa Smith knows how to get to know students -- you learn their names, even if the enrollment list shows more than 350 students.

"As a former teacher, it is important for me to get to know each student's name," she said. "I've always felt that knowing your students and parents contributed to building a strong home-to-school connection.

"This is going to take a little longer to accomplish because there are more students and families," she said. "But I am committed to learning as many families' names as possible this year."

Smith also wants student family members to feel free to visit and share concerns.

"I have shared that my door is always open to the community and I'm trying to greet as many families as I can daily," she said.

Smith took on the head position at the school after former Principal Pam Bertke became principal at Waggoner Road Middle School.

This is Smith's first principal position, but she is no stranger to Reynoldsburg City Schools or Herbert Mills. She taught third grade at French Run Elementary School for five years, then taught the same grade for one year each at Herbert Mills and Summit STEM Elementary.

Smith's experience at Summit may be helpful, since Herbert Mills is being groomed as the next district "school of choice."

Jana Alig, district director of elementary education, said Smith and other administrators will take a full year of planning to reposition Herbert Mills as the district's second STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) elementary school.

She said the school will have three main tenets: global learning, inquiry-based learning and blended learning.

"We plan on building on the success of our Summit STEM Elementary, but will broaden the curriculum to include global issues," she said.

Smith said she has asked staff members to brainstorm with STEM elements in mind to help students reach higher and higher levels of achievement.

"After teaching here for a year, I know we have a very talented staff that has a strong sense of community," she said. "The students are challenged daily to maximize their learning in all areas."

Smith said she is very much "a goal-oriented person."

"I would like to continue the standard of excellence for all students that has been established here and I want to empower teachers with resources and skills that will impact student achievement and teacher development," she said.

"I also want to find ways to engage our families and the community, to encourage their involvement for our students," she said. "I truly believe in the 'it takes a village' concept."

She said the overall goal for teachers and administrators is to take responsibility for "making certain that our students receive a high-quality, challenging education as we move them toward 21st-century learning."

Smith said she and her husband, Steven, "are proud residents of Reynoldsburg."

"Both of our sons, Christopher and Andrew, are graduates of Reynoldsburg High School," she said.