Governor Parson Appoints Two New Members to the State Board of Education


Today, Governor Michael L. Parson appointed two new members to the State Board of Education (State Board), Tawni Hunt Ferrarini, Ph.D. (St. Charles), and Thomas G. Prater, M.D. (Springfield). Dr. Ferrarini and Dr. Prater are now subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate in the coming weeks.

“Tawni and Tom are clearly engaged in the education community and committed to serving others, so we look forward to welcoming them to the State Board and working with them to serve students, educators, and schools statewide,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven.


Since August 2017, Dr. Ferrarini has served as the Robert W. Plaster Professor of Economic Education at Lindenwood University's Hammond Institute. She works with the College of Education and Human Services to create programs at Lindenwood to train educators on how to teach economics and financial literacy and improve economics education statewide. She also serves as a faculty scholar for the Fraser Institute (Canada), Council on Economic Education (Japan), and Mackinac Center for Public Policy (Michigan).

Dr. Ferrarini earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She then went on to earn her master’s and doctorate degrees in economics from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Dr. Ferrarini fills the seat of Donald Claycomb (Linn), who has served on the State Board of Education since August 2018. Claycomb's term expired in July 2021. He has been serving at the pleasure of the Governor until a replacement was named.

“As a former educator, Don has a passion for public education that is evident and we thank him for continuing his service to Missouri students and teachers by serving on the State Board,” said State Board of Education President Charlie Shields. “His perspective has been truly invaluable.”

Dr. Ferrarini’s term will expire on July 1, 2029.


Dr. Prater is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and specializes in LASIK and cataract surgery. He currently practices at Mattax-Neu-Prater Eye Center in Springfield and has practiced in the community since 1987. Dr. Prater served as President of the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education and President of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. He has also served on the City Council of Springfield as well as the board of the Chamber of Commerce.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Prater received his medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He then served his residency in Ophthalmology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Dr. Prater fills the seat of Peter F. Herschend (Branson), who was first appointed to the State Board of Education in December 1991. He left the board in July 2017, but was reappointed in 2018. Herschend's term expired in July 2023. He has been serving at the pleasure of the Governor until a replacement was named.

“Peter is a persistent champion for public education, and we cannot thank him enough for his service on the board and his commitment to the children in Missouri,” said Shields. “His insight and dedication have been greatly appreciated throughout the years.”

Dr. Prater’s term will expire on July 1, 2031.