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Smuts is new Bonsall High School principal

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

Dan Smuts is the new principal at Bonsall High School.

Smuts will be the fifth principal of the school which opened in 2014. Bonsall had two principals during 2022-23; Susan Ford was the interim principal after Jason Fowler, who had been the principal since 2018, left the Bonsall district for Imagine School, a K-8 charter school in Coachella.

"I'm really excited to take on this position," Smuts said.

Smuts is a Rancho Penasquitos native who attended Mount Carmel High School. He then attended Concordia University in Irvine, which was previously called Christ College Irvine. He began his teaching career at St. Paul Lutheran School in Orange before becoming a biology teacher at Hidden Valley Middle School in Escondido.

He also taught at Mission Hills High School before transitioning into administration. Smuts was an assistant principal at Rancho Buena Vista High School and then the principal at Woodland Park Middle School in San Marcos.

Smuts was also a Mission Hills High School boys soccer coach and coached with the FC Heat club program which is based in Escondido.

Bonsall Unified School District Superintendent Joseph Clevenger was the Rancho Buena Vista High School principal from 2018 to 2021. Smuts sought the Bonsall High School principal position after Ford completed the 2022-23 academic year.

"It seemed like all the right stuff in all the right places," Smuts said.

Smuts currently lives in Valley Center but previously lived in the Lake Rancho Viejo area, which is in the Bonsall Unified School District. "It's exciting to come back to the community. It's a tight, small community, and that's what drove me to the position," he said.

Bonsall High School and Sullivan Middle School are on the same campus. Sullivan principal Tim Heck was also the first Bonsall High School principal when the high school opened in August 2014. In August 2013, Janet Whiddon transitioned from the Sullivan Middle School principal to the district's director of curriculum, and Heck was hired as both the Sullivan principal and the original principal of Bonsall High School.

Heck was involved in the planning of the new high school, and during that time the district chose to implement the New Technology Network model in which students interact with local industry and serve internships and which emphasizes interdisciplinary study. Heck remained as the Bonsall High School principal for the first 6 1/2 months of the school's first actual year in operation before Lee Fleming took over in March 2015.

Fleming had been the New Technology Network director of new school development prior to accepting the position as the Bonsall High School principal, and she was originally hired by the New Technology Network as a senior school development coach in 2006. In 2018, Fleming accepted an offer to become the head of school, which is the equivalent of a principal, at Samueli Academy in Santa Ana. Fowler, who had previously been the principal at Nuview Bridge Academy in Nuevo, replaced Fleming.

"Bonsall High School represents an amazing small school," Smuts said. "I'm really intrigued by Bonsall High School growing."

At the beginning of the 2022-23 school year Bonsall High School had 318 students. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the students," Smuts said.

"I'm excited to be at the high school level," Smuts said. "I'm excited to serve the community of Bonsall and the Bonsall Unified School District."


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