East Mountain High School, a charter school in Sandia Park, kicked off its 20th year with a familiar face at the helm. Trey Smith is the school’s new principal, taking over for Monique Siedschlag who left at the end of last semester.

Smith has been an employee at East Mountain for more than a decade but said aspiring to become the school’s principal wasn’t really part of his overall grand plan.

He said he started in the school’s guidance center before moving into the classroom, teaching humanities and special education. Over the years he has served several positions, including founder and director of the Speech and Debate program and chair of the Humanities Department.

Most recently Smith served as the executive director of the EMHS Foundation, the lead fundraising arm of the school as well as the lease holder for the property and facilities. “So, it just ended up being this path where I got to learn all the departments, and it started to become clear that this was the path I wanted to take,” Smith said.

When Siedschlag announced near the end of 2018 that she’d be leaving, Smith said he heard from a number of faculty members who encouraged him to put in for consideration.

“I talked it over with my wife and when we came back [from winter break] in January I put in the application,” Smith said, adding, “I think they were intrigued by someone who knew the lay of the land.”

The charter high school started its fall semester Aug. 12 and has a current enrollment of 360, Smith said.

Smith said that a lot of his time during the summer was devoted to administrative duties in preparation for the new semester, but he’s excited now that the semester is underway.

“Since school started and the students have been back it’s been energizing,” Smith said. “It’s definitely been busy now that we’re in the thick of it.”