Van Buren High School Freshman Academy Principal Lisa Miller will be the new principal at Southside High School.

The Fort Smith Board of Education approved a recommendation from Fort Smith School District Superintendent Doug Brubaker to employ Miller for the position during its meeting Monday. She will succeed Wayne Haver, who will retire after 36 years as principal and a total of 48 years at Southside.

Martin Mahan, executive director of human resources for the Fort Smith School District, said Friday will be Haver’s last day of employment.

Miller will begin work on Monday.

The Fort Smith School District posted the Southside High School principal position on the school district website May 29. It closed June 15. In terms of qualifications, the district was looking for appropriate licensure and administrative experiences in the applicants.

A total of 24 people applied for the position, Mahan said. Miller said she sent an email expressing her interest to Mahan as soon as she heard Haver was going to retire.

“I’ve always been interested in leadership in Fort Smith, especially at Southside,” Miller said. “That’s always been something that I would love to do.”

Miller began her career in education at Kimmons Junior High School, where she taught science and social studies. She then transferred to Ramsey Junior High because she wanted to teach her passion, math. She went on to serve as principal of Coleman Junior High in the Van Buren School District.

“I did that for two years, and then Van Buren (School District) reconfigured, and I opened the Freshman Academy here,” Miller said. “I was the first principal at the Freshman Academy in Van Buren, and I’ve been doing that for the past six years.”

Miller said she lives north of Van Buren.

Mahan said he was involved in selecting a suitable applicant for the position, along with Brubaker, Director of Secondary Education Ginni McDonald, Chief Academic Officer Barry Owen and Chief Operations Officer Terry Morawski. He described Miller as a very strong candidate and brought up her experience as principal of the Freshman Academy and as part of the Fort Smith School District, as well as other accomplishments.

“She is a master principal designee in the state of Arkansas, and that’s through the Arkansas Leadership Academy,” Mahan said. “She’s currently working on her doctorate degree. She has completed an educational specialist degree from Arkansas State University, and she has a Master’s of Education in teaching, learning and leadership from Arkansas Tech, and of course a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.”

Mahan said Miller is the first secondary principal in Arkansas to earn the designation of master principal.

Miller’s interview for the Southside High School principal position took place on June 21 and a final decision was made on June 22, Mahan said.