Bud Smith

May 24, 2002

retires from Brawley High


Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — After 32 years with Brawley Union High School, the last three as its principal, Bud Smith will retire June 30 — ending a career in which he was known both as a tough disciplinarian and a counselor.

The district has named Tony Munguia, BUHS's resource development director, to take over as principal.

Smith, 60, said it is tough to step down but after a career that spanned 39 years it is time to move on to another phase in his life.

Smith will not be leaving Brawley. He owns a business, Brawley Sports and Awards, along with property he is looking to develop.


And he has no plans to completely break from the high school. The "blue and gold" will continue to be an important part of his life.

He would like to volunteer and in two years — during the next school district election — he plans to run for the school board.

Smith said it is not that he has any problems with the current board — in fact, he is pleased with the direction the district is moving. Smith said it is simply that he has some ideas for the district he would like to pursue as a board member.

But that's two years down the line. For now, Smith plans to take a little time to travel with his wife, concentrate on his business downtown and on developing the property he owns in the city.

Smith reflected Thursday on a career that he said began because of the kindness of others.

Smith grew up in a poor family in Oklahoma and might have never attended college if not for the guidance of his teachers.

"They pulled me out of the drink and helped me," Smith said.

He added as a young man he worked for an oilman in Oklahoma who chose to pay Smith's way through college.

"He paid for everything I did in college," said Smith, who added he repaid the man after finishing college. Smith said the man allowed him to make small affordable payments.

Smith said because of the help he was given, "I worked my life to help other people."

Smith went to work as a teacher and coach and was working in Douglas, Ariz., when he traveled through Brawley on his way to Los Angeles for a coaching conference.

In Brawley he met Ed Wiest, who was president of the state Babe Ruth program. He said Wiest suggested he come work in Brawley, and a year later, Smith was hired by Brawley Union High School.

Smith was 28 when he started at BUHS as a coach and teacher — a position he held for 13 years before moving into administration. For 17 years he worked as vice principal in charge of discipline.

BUHS Superintendent Garth Isom said he has never seen anyone remain in the discipline office as long as Smith did. Isom said Smith is a good disciplinarian and at times that makes him unpopular, but Isom said Smith works to involve parents, teachers and students.

"He does a lot of counseling," Isom said.

Smith, who has been principal for three years, described himself as a tough administrator.

"I try to be as consistent as I can be and I try to treat everyone the same," Smith said.

He added he has found it necessary to be a strict disciplinarian to teach students lessons he hopes will make a difference in their lives. He said he is tough because he wants to make sure students making the wrong choices understand the dangers of the paths they are taking.

Smith said he probably could have made more money in another field, but being an educator allowed him to work with students and families to try to make a difference and that has been important to him.

He said BUHS is on the right track.

"Our kids are doing so much better then what they were doing 30 years ago," he said, adding he cannot take credit for all the success but he does think he helped.

He said among all the work he has done at BUHS, one thing he will miss most is coaching baseball. He said some "excellent young men" went through the baseball program and today many still refer to him as "Coach."

BUHS Trustee Tom DuBose was a student when Smith was teaching and coaching. Smith was DuBose's baseball and football coach.

DuBose credited Smith for his years of service, in particular, in working to make the campus safe for students.

"Bud has done a tremendous job of keeping the campus safe," DuBose said.

When asked what advice he would give to BUHS, Smith said he wants to see the school continue to try to get parents involved. He said more parents are involved today but still more are needed.

He credits BUHS for creating a strategic plan and said as the plan is fully implemented people will see a positive effect on the programs at the school.

Smith said under Isom's leadership BUHS can continue to improve.

"Garth Isom is one of the best superintendents I've ever worked with," Smith said. "He will build a darn good school. We already are a good school, but he will improve it."

Smith added he thinks Munguia has the skills to take over the principal position and work with Isom to bring about improvement.

Smith said he will be there to help if the district needs him.

"I live and die Brawley Union High School," he said.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles