Mr. Smith: man who wears many hats (or vests)

Assistant Principal, Mayor of Gowanda and more


Mrs. Giancola

Mr. Smith, who fills many roles, always greets everyone with a smile and a kind word.

Michele Jackson, Staff Writer

Mr. David Smith – a name nearly everyone in our town recognizes and one of the most caring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to write about.

He is an incredibly hard-working man, who not only is the assistant principal of both the middle school and high school, but also serves as the mayor of Gowanda, the police commissioner, a prison minister, a member of a small group bible study, a leader of the church, an organizer of a mentor program at the school, and a member of the Cattaraugus County Health Board.

When I heard him listing of all of these things, I, first of all, couldn’t fathom how one person could possibly be able to do all of that, how anyone could fit all of that into his life.

Mr. Smith said, “Time management has been hard, but I keep lots of lists and go day by day.” He also went on to explain how his team and wife have definitely helped him along the way.

We also discussed if the students who got into a lot of trouble now take him more seriously since he has become mayor. His response was that he likes to keep the two different job separate, but at the end of the day having such a big role in the community helps to deal with the families.

I was beyond interested to hear about what progress we’ve made with the town and it turns out he’s helped to set aside $6.7 million for flood prevention.

According to Mr. Smith, when the project is finished, it will “keep the village from ever being devastated again.”

When Mr. Smith told me that the 2009 flood was what motivated him to run for the mayor’s office, I could tell this project was very important to him.

As far as school is concerned, I’m always interested in seeing teachers’ and administrators’ priorities for the district. Mr. Smith replied with, “A positive relationship with the students. Sometimes we focus too much on tests, class rankings, etcetera. We can NEVER lose our focus on what the most important part of the school is: our students.”

I again could feel his passion for the students. It was refreshing to see a higher up in the district not be so primarily focused on our grades. However, it isn’t always easy.

Mr. Smith said that if there was one thing he’d want to change in the district, it’s how many students get so easily dragged down by drugs and alcohol. He added, “If I could wave a magic wand I’d keep drugs and alcohol away from the students. I’ve seen it ruin so many lives and good families.”

Finally, I asked what advice Mr. Smith would give high school students and his answer has stuck with me even days later as I’m writing this. “Step one: Believe in yourself; God made you great and beautiful. Step two: Don’t be afraid to work for what you want; our country has its problems, but it’s still the best country in the world because in most cases you can create a great life for yourself if you’re willing to work hard for it. Step 3: Focus on helping others; you will be surprised how much help you get in return.”