UPDATE: The funeral service for Mark Smith will be held Saturday November 8, at 2:00 p.m. at Mt. Canaan Baptist Church on Highway 58 (the old K-Mart property). There will be no visitation, according to John P. Franklin Funeral Home.
Previous story from November 2:
Hamilton County has lost a school leader who was known as one of its most dynamic and enthusiastic.
Mark Smith, a second-year principal at Tyner Middle Academy, died of a heart attack late Saturday night. He was 53.
Smith was a long-time middle school English teacher before becoming an assistant principal at Howard High School. He spent his last two years at Tyner Middle Academy, where he leaves behind a huge legacy.
Smith had a big presence in the hallways at Tyner Middle. Just last month, he told Channel 3 he shakes every kid's hand when they arrive to school. He didn't just greet students, he helped give them a boost of confidence -- as soon as they walked in the door.
"I shake 500 hands and you know, it's not work. I'm glad to see them, and I let them know that," Smith said.
"He doesn't miss anybody, he says, 'Oh, where's my handshake?' and then he shakes everyone's hand," said 8th grader Kaiya Moore, who always got her handshake.
"He would always say 'Honor and respect your parents because you never know when they're gone.' And now you know, he's gone. But he's not really gone in my memory though," Moore said.
Smith died of a heart attack over the weekend. Counselors were on hand Monday to help students and faculty deal with the sudden loss.
"He made sure that everyone who came here felt welcome," said Assistant Principal Travis Miller, who worked directly under smith.
Miller said the principal's joy of working with kids was contagious.
"In less than a year and a half, he truly changed the culture of this building in a very positive way," said Miller.
Smith focused on academics, but he wanted students to build character and treat others with respect.
He started 'Dress for Success' days so students knew how to be prepared for the real world.
"He wanted them to take pride in the way they looked, and the way they acted," Miller said.
"I'm just gonna miss his spirit," said Moore.
Miller added, "that smile... it's hard to replace."
Smith's funeral plans have not been officially announced yet.
PREVIOUS STORY: Hamilton County has lost one of its most dynamic and enthusiastic school leaders.
Mark Smith, a second-year principal at Tyner Middle Academy, died of a heart attack late Saturday night at the age of 53. He was a longtime middle school English teacher, and was assistant principal at Howard High School before moving to Tyner Middle in 2013. Co-workers say he had not appeared to be ill, and had been on the job through Friday.
Smith was a graduate of Brainerd High School, and carried his passion for reading and English into his teaching and administrative careers. In October, he told Eyewitness News that his primary emphasis at Tyner Middle was on reading and literacy, and that his goal was to ensure every student was prepared to succeed in high school.
The principal took pride in greeting each student as they entered school in the morning, giving them a handshake, or a pat on the back as he told them how glad he was to see them at school.
Dr. Marvin Lott, a county school director who oversees Tyner Middle, said, "Mr. Smith was making great strides, and had the school heading in the right direction. We will miss him greatly." Dr. Lott said that additional school district personnel would be at Tyner Middle early Monday morning to help console grieving teachers and students.
Funeral arrangements for Mark Smith have not yet been announced.