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Leslie Smith Receives Doctorate in Education

Orange Lutheran High School is proud to announce that Leslie Smith, Head of School, received her Doctorate in Education from Pepperdine University’s prestigious Organizational Leadership program on Saturday, May 19, 2018.
Orange Lutheran High School is proud to announce that Leslie Smith, Head of School, received her Doctorate in Education from Pepperdine University’s prestigious Organizational Leadership program on Saturday, May 19, 2018.

Dr. Smith began her doctoral studies in August 2015 after realizing that education had become more about prestige and unhealthy competition and less about the development of the whole person. Students were only focused on college and, as such, were stressed, anxious, and tired. Immediate changes were necessary for the sake of student health, faith, and well-being -- the experience of high school had to be redefined.

While earning her doctorate, Dr. Smith has been leading Orange Lutheran’s efforts to redefine the high school experience by prioritizing the development of healthy, strong, and caring people who are strengthened and prepared for a Christian life of purpose, service, and leadership in a global society. Some changes, like the modification of the bell schedule to allow for rest, address physical health and well-being, while other changes, such as the addition of programs that connect students with faculty and staff mentors, develop emotional intelligence in ways that the standard high school curriculum cannot.

Already recognized in academic circles for her pioneering research on redefining the high school experience, some of which was published in the Association for Lutheran Secondary Schools Journal in April 2017 (article here), Dr. Smith’s dissertation analyzed the relationship between mindset and psychological well-being among high achieving, college-bound students at five private, Christian high schools in Orange County, California.

Dr. Smith is a recipient of the National Leadership Forum’s 2016 Growing Leaders Award for her work in cultivating a leadership culture on Orange Lutheran’s campus, as well as the 2013 Administrator of the Year award for the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Additionally, she has published several articles and is frequently invited to speak with students, parents, and educators at a wide variety of events. Most recently, Dr. Smith presented The Unintended Consequences of the American College Dream: The Price of Perfecting the Profile at the Expense of Preparing the Person at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in January 2018.

Dr. Smith earned both her doctorate and her bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University, and she holds a Master of Arts degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction, K-12 as well as a professional clear multiple subject teaching credential.

A life-long learner and a dedicated educator for over 27 years, Dr. Smith’s visionary perspective, transformational leadership style and focus on adolescent health and well-being continues to lead Orange Lutheran High School to the forefront of the education landscape.
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2222 N. Santiago Blvd.
Orange, CA 92867
(714) 998-5151

Who We Are

Founded in 1973, Orange Lutheran High School is a comprehensive private Christian co-educational college preparatory high school, grades 9-12, that exists to help students internalize the gospel message of salvation in Christ Jesus. The culture and climate of Orange Lutheran are based on caring relationships that strengthen our community as a Lancer Family. High standards of excellence coupled with a warm, energetic atmosphere create a safe, nurturing environment where students can thrive, as they discover and develop their unique gifts, talents, and passions.