CONTACT:  Michele Clark
Communications Coordinator

Vol. 44, Number 61

July 30, 2010


Pioneers in Education to Be Honored Sunday

Six educators will be honored as “Pioneers in Education” on Sunday for their outstanding and lifelong dedication to the students of Missouri’s public schools.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will formally recognize the six Pioneers (including a husband and wife) during the opening banquet of the 49th annual conference for school administrators in Osage Beach.  More than 600 administrators will be in attendance at the three-day meeting.

The 2010 Pioneers in Education are:

  • Harold A. Menze, Salisbury, who balanced being high school principal, social studies and P.E. teacher, and coach early in his tenure at the Salisbury School District. He went on to spend his entire career in Salisbury, becoming superintendent in 1958 and overseeing major renovations to district facilities during the following decades.
  • Charldine B. Smart, Ionia, who began her career in a one-room elementary school in 1945 and went on to teach in Missouri schools for more than 45 years. She is very proud that her children and grandchildren have become the third and fourth generations of professional educators in her family.
  • E. Maureen Watkins and Robert K. Watkins, Lancaster, who were married in 1949 and have devoted much of their lives to education in Missouri. Maureen taught music and English from 1949 to 1991 at high schools in Livonia, Downing and Lancaster. Once a candidate for Missouri Teacher of the Year, she often mentored new teachers with the same care and understanding she showed her students. Robert became principal of Schuyler County High School in 1964 when the high schools in Downing and Lancaster consolidated. From 1982 to 1991, he worked as a high school counselor and transportation director.
  • James E. Westbury, Wildwood, who spent more than three decades at the Normandy School District and served as superintendent from 1977 to 1988. He was a member of the “Committee of 28” that helped to establish the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • John A. Wright, St. Louis, who was the only African-American superintendent in Missouri at the time of his appointment at the Kinloch schools in 1973. He went on to serve as assistant superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant School District for 27 years.

State education officials have presented the Pioneer in Education awards each year since 1974, honoring teachers, school administrators, citizens and lawmakers for their distinguished careers and contributions to public education in Missouri.

Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro and State Board of Education Vice President Peter F. Herschend will present the awards.