Assistant Wright City superintendent stepping down after 14 years with the district

By Jason Koch, Editor
Posted 2/9/24

Wright City MO R-II district assistant superintendent Doug Smith discusses his retirement that will occur at the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

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Assistant Wright City superintendent stepping down after 14 years with the district


Wright City Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith announced his retirement Jan. 31 after 14 years in the R-II school district.

Smith becomes the second person in district leadership to announce he would be retiring at the end of the school year. Superintendent Christopher Berger announced in October that he would retire.

The Wright City R-II board of education announced Dr. Amy Salvo as his replacement in late January.

It was Berger who made the announcement that Smith was retiring.

“Congrats Doug! Thank you for 29 years of service to @MOEducation students, but especially thank you for the four years we served @WCR2info together,” Berger wrote in a tweet.

Under Smith, who has served as the assistant superintendent for curriculum for the past six years, the district has seen a jump in scores across the board. 

Smith credited the district’s teachers and administrators for that improvement.

“I had the vision and oversaw a lot of that, but man, the work was done by our administrators and teachers and kids,” Smith said. “They took what was some idealized vision of where we could be and actually accomplished a lot of it. And that’s the amazing part of this. And I’m really proud of what they have done.”

But other district officials put the credit on Smith himself.

“Doug has been instrumental in driving curriculum and instruction at Wright City,” R-II board of education President Austin Jones said. 

“His efforts have been rewarded with our students’ success. Doug has touched so many kids in a positive way. He will be missed. We wish him health, happiness, and success in his future endeavors.”

Several other people congratulated Smith on his retirement in Facebook comments.

“Such a difference maker. Was proud to work alongside Doug,” John Waters wrote.

“Congratulations! Such a great role model!” Julie New said.

It was high praise for a person who initially wasn’t headed to a career toward education.

“Education was one of those things that I did not go to college for,” Smith said. “But as I started my journey of college, it became apparent that was something that I felt more compelled and driven to do than what I was there to study.”

After a challenging start to his career, Smith took a job in Elsberry, and that’s when he found his love for education.

“I worked for a man up there who was my boss named Kenny Youmans. He was probably one of the most influential mentors I had in the field,” he said. “I loved working in that community. It was just a fun ride and made me passionate about even being better every day. I wanted to be better because of how much I was enjoying it and how fun it was and it didn’t feel like a slog at all.”

Smith’s career took him from Ellsbury to Wentzville before he moved to Wright City, though a colleague didn’t recommend that final move.

That person “told me that coming here to take a job as an administrator was career suicide,” Smith said. 

“And I am proud that was not a prescient prediction on his part because I think it’s been just the opposite. I think this has been a fantastic second half of my career to be here.”

He was extremely proud of the district’s accomplishments during his time in Wright City.

“I really hope that our community looks at what we have, it says ‘my kid, he’s getting a really high quality education in Wright City. My kid is getting opportunities to succeed and to have a better life because they were,’” Smith said. “I really want to make that clear, and I’m proud of what we do for kids here.”

Looking ahead to his retired life, Smith wasn’t sure what his future plans were but he said he still plans to work.

“People all the time, they’re saying ‘congratulations on your retirement.’ I’m like, from public education,” he said. “I don’t plan on kicking back and just doing nothing because that would last about two days and then I would have to find something to do.”

He said that could include continuing to coach the Wright City High School girls basketball team.

“If the opportunity presents itself with what I do next to continue coaching, I would love to (continue coaching),” Smith said. “I’ve had a lot of fun getting back into it. I’ve enjoyed working with the girls. I think they have shown a lot of improvement throughout the year. .. I think we’re poised to have a kind of breakout year next year. I really believe that. So yeah, I am definitely not closing the door on that.”

But he’s also hoping retirement will free him to spend more time with his grandkids.

He also reflected on his time with the Wright City school district.

“I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here in my time because we’ve seen swings when I came here. It was a pretty low point,” he said. 

“I think it’s a much better place than when I got here. That’s by no means is a reflection of me, but is a commitment to academics and the performance of the schools.”

About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at

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