Jackson County is a place that finds a way into the heart of even those not born here. Pharis, Lori, and their family have made Jackson County home for almost two decades. Pharis Smith is the Tuckerman Elementary Principal and Lori teaches fourth grade. For 13 years they have watched over the young students and watched them grown into adults. After graduating from Westside High school in 1989, Pharis attended Arkansas State University and earned a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Physical Education and a coaching endorsement. He later returned to ASU for a Master’s degree in Educational Administration. His first teaching and coaching opportunity was in Black Rock, where he coached alongside his now Superintendent and longtime friend Chester Shannon. Pharis and Lori married while teaching in Black Rock and will celebrate 19 years of marriage August 21st. Lori graduated from Pocahontas in 1990, graduated from ASU with a degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Curriculum.
    When the opportunity to coach Sr. High Boys in Swifton presented itself, Pharis moved his family to Jackson County and have remained within its limits ever since. The transition from coaching to administration was inevitable. After four years at Swifton, the Smith’s moved to Tuckerman when Pharis was offered an opportunity as Elementary Principal. “It is great that Lori and I are able to work together and have it work well. She teaches fourth grade,” states Pharis.
    The couple have two children, a son Cade Niswonger 22 years old and a daughter named Braylee Reese Smith, eleven years old. Cade is currently in his final year of college. He played two years of basketball for the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville and two years for Crowley’s Ridge College, where he was an Academic All-American his senior year.  The family was blessed and privileged to adopt Braylee Reese from Guatemala at five months old to complete the family. She enjoys playing basketball, softball and singing. “She truly is our miracle child and we thank God for her every day,” states Pharis. “Braylee has a glowing personality and a love for God and life that makes us feel blessed every day for God choosing us to be her parents.”
     The Smith family has invested a great deal of time and effort into the students of TES and Jackson County School District.  According to Pharis, “I feel I have the best faculty and students in Arkansas and am proud of the effort the teachers, students and parents have given to TES.  During the 13 years at Tuckerman, there has been great growth in student enrollment and higher test scores. I love that my faculty has a healthy competitiveness that wants each student to reach their full potential and succeed in life and the classroom.” Pharis claims that his work within the JCSD is not done. The constant growth of technology and its implementation is an ongoing work in progress, but he is up for the challenge. In short, the love of the small school atmosphere and the way the community comes together in times of tragedy or triumph is what draws people to Jackson County.