Paul Smathers preparing to help Groveport-Madison High School adjust to post-pandemic life

Lee Cochran
ThisWeek group
Paul Smathers was named principal at Groveport Madison High School on Feb. 24 after serving in an interim role since Javir Singh resigned at the end of the 2020 school year.

Paul Smathers has a clear idea of what’s in store for him after being named principal at Groveport Madison High School. 

“It’s not too early to tell what our biggest challenge is going to be … returning to school full time and addressing any remedial issues that came from being away,” he said. “There’s a lot of social and emotional trauma that’s impacted students and staff from all of this and we need to address that, too.”  

Until the district announced his promotion Feb. 24, Smathers had been interim principal  since Javir Singh resigned at the end of the 2020 school year.  

Groveport Madison Superintendent Garilee Ogden said the district’s familiarity with Smathers and his abilities made him an easy choice. 

“I have known Paul for 13 years and have always been impressed with his unwavering commitment to his students' academic needs, social-emotional development and their overall health and well-being,” she said. “He is equally committed to his staff. He creates an environment focused on collaboration and personal accountability and helps staff members seek creative solutions to address complex situations.” 

Jeff Warner, district director of communications, said officials knew they had their next principal as soon as Smathers decided to apply for the job.  

“Once Paul indicated his interest, we did not interview anyone else,” Warner said. “Garilee was very pleased with the job he’d been doing since September.” 

According to information from the district, Smathers currently receives a salary of $133,837. Effective Aug. 1, his annual base salary will increase to $135,531 and he will receive benefits worth $35,113.55 for a total compensation of $170,644.55. 

While he believes his familiarity with his colleagues will be beneficial, Smathers said his focus is on students and staff members.  

“It’s great to have that kind of support, but the real work moving forward is going to be between me, the staff, the students and parents,” he said. 

Keeping with the district’s “whole child” approach, Smathers said he plans to focus on academics as well as the social and emotional needs of the students.  

“Preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to compete in our world following graduation, promoting personal responsibility and supporting students’ social-emotional development will always be among my top priorities,” he said. 

Smathers served as the district’s director of safety and community relations starting in September 2019. He brought with him 15 years of experience as principal at Whitehall-Yearling High School and at Finland Middle School in the South-Wester City School District. 

He earned a bachelor's degree in education from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in education from the University of Dayton. 

Smathers and his wife, Breanna, live in Grove City. 

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