Missouri Honors Pioneers in Education

Fri 07/26/19 - 08:09

Eight Pioneers in Education will be in the spotlight on Monday, July 29, in recognition of their commitment and contributions to public education in Missouri. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will recognize the 2019 Pioneers during the 58th Annual Cooperative Conference for School Administrators. The ceremony will take place during a luncheon where more than 500 school district leaders are expected to be in attendance.

“DESE is honored to recognize these Pioneers for their trailblazing efforts to promote excellence in education at the classroom, school, district and state levels,” said Margie Vandeven, commissioner of elementary and secondary education. “Missouri students have benefited from their contributions.”

The following individuals will be honored:

  • Pastor Earnestine Blakley, St. Joseph, discovered at an early age that she was a natural teacher. She spent her education career teaching in St. Joseph schools and was named Missouri Teacher of the Year in 1991. In 1994, Pastor Blakley began Helping Other People Excel (H.O.P.E.), an outreach ministry that works with the needy and promotes literacy. Pastor Blakley founded the Hope Fellowship Church in St. Joseph in 2009. She believes that as a pastor, she is still a teacher.
     
  • Marjorie Cole, St. Louis, has made a mission of caring for the sick and promoting health and wellness since she became a school nurse with the St. Louis Special School District in 1982. Cole also was involved in many nursing organizations, and became president of the Missouri Association of School Nurses in 1993. In 2002, she became the State School Nurse Consultant. She has addressed the Centers for Disease Control and has received grants from that agency. They, in turn, have used Cole’s information for social media campaigns to share with the country what a healthy school looks like.
     
  • Sybl Dell Blakemore Slaughter, Lebanon, grew up in a household where the importance of education was emphasized. She began her teaching career in Kansas after receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In 1972, she married Vic Slaughter and they moved to Lebanon, Mo., where Sybl taught second grade. During her career, she served on the College of Education Alumni Board of the University of Missouri, the Missouri State Board of Education, and the National Association of State Boards of Education. Sybl and Vic are being honored as a couple for their contributions to public education.
     
  • Victor B. Slaughter, Lebanon, was influenced to become an educator by his uncle, who was a teacher. Vic received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and served in the U.S. Army before beginning his teaching career in Senath, Mo. He served as assistant superintendent of the Liberty School District and ultimately became superintendent in Lebanon, Mo., after he and Sybl married. Upon his retirement as a school administrator, he worked as director of school finance for DESE. The year he retired from DESE, Vic received the Missouri Association of School Administrators’ Outstanding Emeritus Educator Award for Statewide Contributions to Missouri Public Schools.
     

The following four honorees are being recognized as a group for their service on the Special Administrative Board (SAB) for the St. Louis Public School District (SLPS), which was the governing entity for the district from 2007-2019. Under the SAB’s guidance, the district improved student and district performance, stabilized leadership and regained full accreditation.

  • Richard Sullivan, St. Louis, was appointed by the governor and had served as president and CEO of the SAB since 2007. He retired from McBride and Son Companies after a 35-year career with the homebuilder. He was founder of Strategic Advisors LLC and served on the Board of Trustees for Rockhurst University, his alma mater. Sullivan has a long history of service with many civic and charitable organizations. He sits on the St. Louis Regional Chamber Board of Directors and the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America.
     
  • Richard Gaines, St. Louis, had served as a member of the SLPS elected board when he was appointed to the SAB by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen in 2007. He chaired the Comprehensive Long-Range Planning Committee, which was the first strategic plan used by the SAB to move toward full accreditation. Gaines was also a driving force behind voter-approved funding to benefit SLPS education programs, student and staff safety and security, and teacher pay and professional development. Gaines is a proud graduate of Vashon High School in St. Louis and owns an insurance firm.
     
  • Melanie Adams, St. Paul, Minn., was appointed to the SAB by the St. Louis mayor. She served as vice president of the SAB and led the search committee for the district’s superintendent, Dr. Kelvin Adams. She is the former executive director of Teach for America St. Louis, as well as past president of the Association of Midwest Museums. Beginning in August, she will be the director of the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum in Washington, D.C. Adams stepped down from the SAB in 2016 to accept a position in Minnesota.
     
  • Darnetta Clinkscale, St. Louis, was appointed to the SAB by the St. Louis mayor in 2016 to fill the seat vacated by Melanie Adams. She served as president of the elected SLPS Board of Education from 2003-2006. Clinkscale was on the faculty of the Center for Reform of School Systems and was a board member and delegate of the Missouri School Boards’ Association. Clinkscale was a fellow of the Broad Institute for School Boards and worked with the National School Boards Association, the Council of Urban Boards of Education, and the Council of the Great City Schools. Clinkscale is a registered respiratory therapist.
     

This marks the 45th consecutive year that state education officials have presented the Pioneer in Education awards, which honor teachers, school administrators, citizens and lawmakers for their distinguished careers and contributions to public education in Missouri.

Fri 07/28/17 - 13:52

Six educators will be honored as Pioneers in Education on Monday, July 31, for their commitment and contributions to public education in Missouri.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will recognize the 2017 Pioneers during the 56th Annual Cooperative Conference for School Administrators at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach. The ceremony will take place during a luncheon where more than 600 school district leaders are expected to be in attendance.

The following individuals will be honored as 2017 Pioneers in Education:

  • Saundra Allen, Jefferson City, always wanted to be a teacher and would retrieve unfinished workbooks and other classroom items at the end of each school year to use when she played school with her family. After earning her degree at Lincoln University, Saundra taught in public and private schools, eventually becoming an art teacher at East Elementary in Jefferson City, where she taught for 21 years. 
  • Robert Barrientos, Kansas City, graduated with honors from Newman University in Wichita and earned his master’s degree at Wichita State University. Robert started Kansas City BizFest, helping students turn hobbies into profit-making ventures and create plans for business and life. Robert has served on numerous boards and committees for the Kansas City School District.
  • Robert Buchanan, Sikeston, graduated from the Bernie R-XIII at age 16 with 12 years of perfect attendance. After college, he taught in Arkansas and Missouri public schools, eventually becoming superintendent of Sikeston R-6. When he retired from Sikeston, he became a professor at Southeast Missouri State University and served as department chair for educational leadership.  
  • Larry Price, Albany, was encouraged to become a teacher by his ninth-grade English teacher. Larry graduated from Northwest Missouri State University and began teaching at South Nodaway R-IV. As his career advanced, Larry served as superintendent at North Andrew R-VI and Albany R-III. Upon his retirement at Albany, Larry served as an Area Supervisor of Instruction for DESE. He retired in 2015.
  • Beth Rutt, Warrensburg, learned the importance of education at an early age when she accompanied her mother on visits to teach the children of migrant workers to read. Beth graduated from Lexington High School, earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and taught at the university level. She has also led school camp programs through public schools. She has served on the Warrensburg R-VI school board for 27 years.
  • Sally Wear, St. Louis, attended Bayless Schools throughout her elementary and secondary education, and began working as secretary for the principal at Bayless Elementary after graduation. She served in that role for 10 years, and then became secretary at Bayless High School. Sally retired from the Bayless School District in 2000. She now provides three scholarships to graduating Bayless seniors each year.
     

“It is a privilege to recognize these Pioneers for their tireless devotion to education,” Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said. “These individuals have dedicated their lives to promoting excellence in education, and we congratulate them on this honor.”

This marks the 43rd consecutive year that state education officials have presented the Pioneer in Education awards, which honor teachers, school administrators, citizens and lawmakers for their distinguished careers and contributions to Missouri public schools.

Fri 07/29/16 - 08:22

Six educators will be honored on Monday, Aug. 1, as Pioneers in Education for their commitment and contributions to public education in Missouri.

The Department will recognize the 2016 Pioneers during the 55th Annual Cooperative Conference for School Administrators at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia. The ceremony will take place during a luncheon where more than 500 school district leaders are expected to be in attendance.

The following individuals will be honored as 2016 Pioneers in Education:

  • Shannon EnnisEminence, left high school during his senior year to serve in World War II before returning to graduate in 1947. He taught at five different schools before he became superintendent at age 28 in Shannon County, a position he held for 12 years. In 1969, he became superintendent in the Eminence R-I School District where he advocated strongly for small, rural schools until his retirement in 1993.
  • Rosa JamesKansas City, moved to Missouri from North Carolina, where she began a 36-year career in the Kansas City School District. After her time in the classroom, James received appointments to various committees, including the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners and the Municipal Judicial Nominating Commission. She continues to work as a member of the NAACP Executive Committee and has received both the Kansas City Spirit and NAACP Presidents Award. She also helped staff a community-volunteer phone bank, designed to call dropouts and provide information to assist in the acquisition of a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate.
  • Jackie LudwigOak Ridge, taught students over three generations during a teaching career that spanned more than 40 years, beginning in 1950 in Brazeau, Mo. After earning her education degree in 1954, she married and moved to Oak Ridge, where she taught until her retirement in 1990. Ludwig was a member of the Southeast Missouri Teachers Association Resolution Committee from 1977-80 and served on the Oak Ridge R-VI school board for 15 years, retiring in 2008.
  • Chris NicastroSt. Louis, began her teaching career in 1975 at Northwest High School in House Springs. She served as assistant superintendent both at Northwest and the Ritenour school districts, during which time she earned her doctorate in 1991. Nicastro then became superintendent of both the Riverview Gardens and Hazelwood school districts, before being appointed Commissioner of Education in July 2009. Under her leadership, the Top 10 by 20 initiative was launched. She retired from her position as commissioner in 2014.
  • Chris StraubJefferson City, began his career in education at Union High School, where he taught and coached football for six years, before he became assistant superintendent of the Union R-XI School District in 1973. After earning his doctorate, he served as the superintendent there until 1979 when he became superintendent in the Hannibal 60 School District. In 1989, he moved to the Jefferson City Public Schools to work as superintendent until he retired in 1997. Straub was appointed director of governmental affairs for the Missouri School Boards’ Association in 2000 and was an adjunct professor at four Missouri universities.
  • Carter WardColumbia, has been involved with education for more than 45 years, beginning as a teacher at Ritenour Junior High School in 1967 before he joined the Navy as a Flight Officer. He returned to teaching in 1970 and transitioned to the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) in 1973. After receiving his doctorate in 1975, Ward stayed with MSBA, eventually becoming executive director in 1983. He remained in this position until his retirement in 2015. During his years there, he grew the MSBA budget to $5.4 million and started a wide array of programs and services.

“The Department is privileged to recognize these six Pioneers for their devotion to education in the state of Missouri,” Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said. “These individuals have worked tirelessly to promote excellence in education at the classroom, district and state levels.”

This marks the 42nd consecutive year that state education officials have presented the awards which honor teachers, school administrators, citizens and lawmakers for their distinguished careers and contributions to public education in Missouri.