Mary Smalling

Phone: 828-264-8481


Degrees and Certifications:

Mary Smalling



Mary Smalling currently serves as the Principal of Hardin Park Elementary School in Boone, North Carolina.  She has been an educator for over 29 years, and has served as Hardin Park’s principal since 1999.  Hardin Park consistently ranks as one of the top performing schools in the county and is the largest pre-K through 8th grade school in the county with just under 900 students.  After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Appalachian State University in 1987, she took a position teaching art for Wilkes County, NC and was an itinerant instructor.  In 1994 she became a classroom teacher at Mount Pleasant Elementary, also in Wilkes County.  In 1998, she completed her Masters in School Administration from Appalachian State as a Principal Fellow, and served as an assistant principal with Watauga County, before taking her current position in 1999.


Mrs. Smalling models lifelong learning and has completed professional development opportunities including the Principal’s Executive Program (2007), the Distinguished Leadership Program (2012-13), and the BB&T Teacher Leadership Institute (2014).  She is also very committed to the role that International Understanding plays in the development of students and has developed a variety of partnerships to build those international relationships.  This includes teacher and student travel opportunities to Poland, Mexico, Pakistan, and many other countries.  She was a Fulbright Administrative Fellow in 2008-09 which allowed her the opportunity to host two fellows for extended periods from Jordan and Argentina, as well as to travel to Argentina for an administrator exchange.  She has shared those experiences and her passion for this approach through a variety of professional forums as a panelist and speaker and through publications.


She has won many awards for her leadership including twice being named Watauga County Principal of the Year (2005 and 2014), and as a winner of the Terry Sanford Award in 2007.  She also has a long history of service to the community including service on a variety of boards and committees including numerous school and university programs and committees, as well as community boards and projects like the local advisory council of the NC Legal Aid Society (through 2011), School Health Advisory Committee (current), and local Department of Social Services board (current), and through her volunteerism with World Servants, building a school in the Dominican Republic..


She is an active fundraiser for her school including receiving grants for the inclusive playground project, bike project, breakfast café, creation of an accessible kitchen, and many other projects supporting the health and wellbeing of her student population.  In 2015 she was the top individual fundraiser for the Trailblaze Challenge, and endurance hiking event for the Make a Wish Foundation of the Carolinas and completed the 28.1 mile single day hike.


She believes in an active lifestyle and enjoys hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.  She is married to her husband Curtis and they have three children and one grandchild.