CHATTANOOGA, TN. (WDEF) In 2012, for the first time in many years, Howard High School was not on the list of "lowest performing schools in Tennessee."
Much of the credit for that improvement goes to Principal Dr. Paul Smith, who's been there for 6 years.
But all that changed last weekend, and school leaders are trying to make sure they don't lose that critical advancement.
As of last weekend, Dr. Paul Smith is no longer a principal.
He will be working with at-risk youngsters as city Public Safety Director.
DR. PAUL SMITH, CITY PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR "I'm going to miss the students..all we've done my whole career has been with kids and young people...so I'm going to miss going in day to day routine with the young people."
A Hamilton county schools spokesman says there's no set date for announcing a replacement for Smith at Howard.
But the one thing most agree on, is that he was very effective at a traditional low-performing school.
GEORGE RICKS, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER "Paul Smith played as a team. It wasn't his thing, our thing..it was a we thing and us thing..he wanted everybody to be involved from alumni down to the parents."
George Ricks is not only a school board member, he volunteered almost daily at Howard.
Is he worried about filling some big shoes in the principal's office.
GEORGE RICKS, SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER "You can't come in to fill shoes ..You've go to bring your shoes with you. Now he can walk in the same direction ...But he's got to have his own footsteps."
Speculation is rising as to who may wind-up with the Howard job.
The announcement will come from the superintendent, Rick Smith, but apparently the search is still underway.
GEORGE RICKS "Well, we're looking. Let's put it that way..I mean they are doing a good job ..A national search..we've got the names. Not to say we don't have anybody local in mind...but we'll find somebody and who ever we find will be the right person for Howard."
Smith will not only work with at-risk youth, he will be working to improve data collection throughout city government and to monitor the progress of initiatives of the Berke administration.