A nationally recognized educator has been selected as the next executive director of the Virginia Air & Space Science Center, announced Board President L’Allegro Smith. Dr. Jeffery Smith, retiring superintendent of Hampton City Schools, will assume the post July 1.

Jeffery Smith was named Virginia Superintendent of the Year in 2020 and was a finalist for the national honor. Under his leadership, the Hampton system saw all schools become fully accredited. The on-time graduation rate increased from 88% to 97.64%, and the dropout rate became the lowest in the region.

One of the hallmarks of Jeffery Smith’s eight-year tenure was his collaborative approach that invited administrators, teachers, parents, city officials, business representatives, and community members into the process of designing the system.

“Dr. Smith brings a wealth of experience to this role,” said L’Allegro Smith. “We provide hands-on STEM experiences that make learning fun and relevant – the perfect combination. Dr. Smith has invigorated a love of learning in Hampton students, and now he can spark that excitement more broadly among all our visitors.” He also noted Jeffery Smith’s executive management skills and strong ties to the community.

“I am looking forward to my next career at The Virginia Air & Space Science Center,” said Jeffery Smith. “As the site of the nation’s first Air Force Base and first NASA research center, Hampton has a special connection to advances in flight and space discoveries. The opportunities here are endless.”

Hampton Mayor Donnie Tuck noted that the center is a downtown landmark and a key reason that tourists visit Hampton. “Generations of scientists and mathematicians in Hampton have played major roles in space flight. This facility helps inspire the next generation, who will take the next step in exploration.”

The 31-year-old center is the official visitors center for NASA Langley Research Center and features interactive aviation exhibits spanning 100 years of flight, more than 30 historic aircraft, a hands-on space exploration gallery, and unique space flight artifacts. It is also home to the Apollo 12 Command Module and the Orion PA-1 Test Vehicle.

In addition to the museum and IMAX theater, the center also offers camps, Scouting events, and offers birthday party and other event rentals.