Chad Smith | Principal

Principal, STEM Education, and Leadership

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STEM Education


About Chad Smith

Chad Smith Principal Headshot

Chad Smith is an educator who champions well-rounded, supportive, and technologically innovative methods in schools. Chad’s diverse experience in everything from STEM teaching to curriculum development to extracurricular activities provides invaluable expertise to the education community.

Prior to his successful and fulfilling career in education, Chad Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Utah and a Master’s in Planning from the University of Southern California.

Chad Smith spent the next seven years excelling across numerous industries. He first gained international experience by preparing economic development projects in Hanoi, Vietnam and Guangzhou, China. During his travels, Chad noted a rising interest in telecommunications and he founded his own consulting firm. The firm focused on acquisition, entitlement, and construction of cellular, PCS, and digital communication network sites. Chad continued on an entrepreneurial path by building a company that owned several gas stations. His final business venture prior to education was a two-year role as the vice president of a small bank.

Chad’s “aha” moment occurred to him shortly after he suffered a serious injury. Hospitalized after an ankle reconstruction surgery incurred life-threatening complications, Chad began to wonder exactly what drove him in his career and in his life overall. He decided that once he was well enough to leave the hospital, he would sell his businesses and enter a truly fulfilling field: education. He could apply his same creative energy and large-scale ideas to schools and foster more valuable environments for students.

After earning his teaching certification Chad Smith joined Baldwin Park High School as an Earth Science, Astronomy, and Natural Hazards teacher. He then taught Earth Science and Oceanography at Fullerton High School, where he also coached freshman football and varsity track. While Chad embraced his roles as teacher and coach, his long background in leadership and management drove him to aspire even higher. At his Alma Mater, Tustin High School, Chad taught Earth science and also took on the role of ASB Director.

From 2007 to 2012 Chad Smith served as the Assistant Principal of Tustin High School. In addition to overseeing all athletics and student activities (similar to his prior role as ASB Director), Chad oversaw curriculum and instruction, student discipline, and course development. He created a One to One notebook computer program, played a key role in the expansion of the Model United Nations program, and also created a highly successful STEM program. Chad developed every program with the goal of fostering active student participation and interest, and under his leadership the school flourished.

From 2012 to 2015 Chad Smith headed South Hills High School as Principal. Again, he took on the crucial task of updating the school’s learning models to accurately reflect and teach the skill sets required by colleges and businesses in the 21st century. Backed by his Category 1 International Baccalaureate certification, Chad implemented the school’s first IB program. He also created an Entrepreneur program and implemented a pathway to STEM-based learning. The latter was of particular interest to Chad, who earned his Ed.D with a dissertation on students’ current interests and attitudes towards STEM.

Now, Chad is the Coordinator of Pupil Services at Capistrano Unified, where he oversees Special Assignment Pupil Services and Welfare and serves as a liaison between the District, Orange County Office of Education, and school districts.

Chad lives in Tustin with his wife Laura Lynn and his two children, Jessica and Matthew. Chad is also the guardian of a Tustin High graduate, Edward, who is a two-time, all-league, All-County, All-CIF football player. Edward has received a scholarship to play football at UC Berkeley.

Chad is an avid snow skier, scuba diver, and hiker. He and his daughter are also black belts in Tae Kwon Do. He is currently finishing his Doctorate in Education at USC.


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Chad Smith was raised in Tustin, California. He graduated from Tustin High School in 1990 and lettered in Football and Track. He then went on to graduate from University of Utah in 1994 with a degree in Urban and Regional Planning and a minor in Geography.

Chad Smith later returned to California to attend graduate school at the University of Southern California. He graduated from USC in 1996 with a Master’s in Urban Planning (MPL) and Public Administration. Now, he is currently working on his Doctorate in Education at the USC.


During graduate school, Chad Smith worked as an Assistant Planner at Urban Vision, an environmental planning firm based in Newport Beach. He left in 1996 to begin work with Koll Telecommunication Services. Within a year, Chad left to work at Marmac Engineering as the Director of Planning for the Telecommunication Division. In 1998, Smith and his partner left Marmac and started Pacific Management Associates (PMA), a telecommunication consulting firm. In 1999, Smith sold PMA to RCC Communications. Also in 1999, Smith became the Director of Real Estate for EZ Lube, an automotive services company. In 2001, Smith decided to leave EZ Lube and started Synergy Fuels, Inc. Synergy Fuels, Inc owned and operated several gas stations in Southern California.

At the same time, he entered into the world of banking and finance and served as a Business Development Officer and Vice President of several small southern California banks. It was at this time that Smith and several partners started a small home building company.

After an injury and long recovery, Smith decided to divest his business interests and went back to school to obtain his teaching credential. In 2004/2005, Smith began teaching Earth Science at Baldwin Park High School. In 2005, he left Baldwin Park and worked as an Earth Science and Oceanography teacher at Fullerton High School. In 2006 he became an Earth Science teacher and football coach at his Alma Mater, Tustin High School.

Later that year, he became the ASB director and continued to coach football, basketball, and track at Tustin High. In 2007, Smith became the Assistant Principal of Discipline at THS and in 2008 took over as the Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, where he was instrumental in the implementation of a 1:1 technology program, STEM program, and early college program.

In 2012, Smith left Tustin High to become Principal of South Hills High School. While at South Hills, Smith directed the implementation of the International Baccalaureate and Business Enterprise programs. In 2015, Smith left South Hills High and became the coordinator of Pupil Services in Capistrano Unified School District.