Missouri to Honor Pioneers in Education


Five educators will be honored Monday, July 27, as Pioneers in Education for their commitment and contributions to public education in Missouri.

The Department will recognize the 2015 Pioneers during the 54th 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 district leaders are expected to be in attendance.

This marks the 41st 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.

The 2015 Pioneers in Education are:

  • Betty Abernathy, Naylor, has been involved with education for more than 60 years. She began her teaching career in 1944 at a two-room school house near Naylor. She retired from full-time teaching in 1985 but remains a substitute teacher. Abernathy is also active in her community. She serves on the Board of Aldermen for Naylor and helped organize the Naylor Alumni Association.
  • Donald Claycomb, Linn, began teaching agriculture in 1965 in Tabor, Iowa. His work in education included stops at Trenton High School, Kansas State University, the University Missouri and Washington High School. Claycomb also worked for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In 1993, he became president of the State Technical College of Missouri (formerly Linn State Technical College) where he helped oversee a major shift in program development.
  • Ron Jackson, St. Louis, has been a contributor to education for most of his life. Following graduation from Washington University and a stint in the military, Jackson served as an assistant for U.S. Senator John Danforth where he helped organize programs that provided civics education for high school students. He has played an active role in improving the lives and educational outcomes for children in the St. Louis area. Jackson has served on a number of boards, including the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable and the Flance Early Childhood Education Center. He also is a member of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s Commission on Children, Youth and Families.
  • Lucille Lindsay, Eolia, started teaching in 1943 at a one-room school house in Oak Grove. She taught in Hawk Point and Silex, and became the principal at Silex Elementary and Junior High in 1973. Besides her duties as principal, Lindsay also served as remedial reading teacher. She retired from education in 1985 after spending more than 32 years as an educator.
  • Richard Phillips, Lake Tapawingo, spent more than 50 years in education. His first teaching jobs included Odessa High School and Pleasant Hill High School. He became the Superintendent of the Hale School District in 1972 and the Brunswick School District in 1977. Phillips later worked at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and was an assistant superintendent in the Fort Osage School District. Phillips served on the University of Central Missouri’s Board of Governors and founded the Missouri Student Success Network to help at-risk children and families.

"For more than a half century, these men and women have worked to improve the lives of countless Missourians through education,” said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “The Department is honored to recognize their dedication and service.”

State Board of Education President Charlie Shields and Commissioner Vandeven will present the awards.