Last edited 2:20 p.m., March 12, 2013

Landon Gray leads by example. The 31-year-old elementary school principal shepherds fellow educators into administrative roles and mentors rookie referees on the basketball court.

While serving as Hollister Elementary principal for a year before crossing the White River and joining the Branson School District, Gray’s school lacked a full-time, in-building assistant principal and counselor, positions staffed at other locations in the school system. Gray says he encouraged two building teachers to take on the added responsibility, appointing them as assistant principals whenever he or other administrators weren’t present. An assistant principal at the school for three years prior, Gray knew what the role required and one of the teachers has since succeeded him as elementary principal.

Leading not only his staff but also his students during his time in Hollister, Missouri Assessment Program testing scores continued to rise under his watch.

“Each testing grade improved or maintained their math and communication arts scores from the previous year,” Gray says.

Gray began his career in education as a Branson Elementary physical education teacher in June 2004, where he adopted a shared responsibility model from his first principal, Michael Dawson.

“As a physical education teacher, Landon transformed the program through purposeful planning, consistent class management, open communication and yes, by being a role model,” says Dawson, who recounted Gray’s job interview, where the prospective hire mentioned being a role model more than 30 times.

As much time as Gray dedicates to the serious business of managing schools in Taney County, he’s not above having a little fun for philanthropic endeavors.

Gray says his most meaningful community experience came from participating in Team Skyler. Hollister Elementary faculty and staff came together to run as a group in the Bass Pro Shops half marathon and host a fundraising carnival in honor of student Skyler Sanders, who had been diagnosed with cancer. The group’s effort raised $18,000 for the deceased child’s family.

Going the distance for the cause, Gray says he’s been convinced on two separate occasions to wear women’s clothing for charitable causes, including Relay For Life, but jokes that he’s now retired his wig.

Outside the classroom and on the basketball court, Gray continues to lead students as a referee. Through a referee-mentoring program, Gray has recently taken on two new officials, helping to teach them game management, state requirements and professionalism. Gray also is working to create a beginning officials handbook detailing the information he picked up during his 14-year career, in which he has officiated two state high school basketball championships, eight Blue and Gold tournaments and several state playoff match ups.

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