Springfield, MO

12 People You Need to Know in 2018: Stephen Kleinsmith

Advocate for Education

Posted online

Stephen Kleinsmith is retiring after 18 years as superintendent of Nixa Public Schools, but his mission to impact education appears far from over.

Kleinsmith suspects he’ll do more good on the state level now that he’s not working full-time. After all, he was recently named 2017 Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators.

Ask how he became Nixa’s superintendent, and his answer quickly follows a laugh, “Probably baseball.”

The 1974 Woodbine High School, Iowa, graduate was passionate about education, with a goal to play baseball and coach. But his ultimate aim was to become a superintendent, and he began climbing the ranks – finally becoming executive director for administrative affairs at Millard Public Schools in Omaha, Nebraska.

That’s when he heard a small town in the heart of the Midwest needed a superintendent.

“As soon as I looked into it, I began to fall head, line and sinker into a real affection for the community because it seemed like a safe, progressive community,” he says. “Fortunately, for me and my family, I was hired and, as it turned out to be, 18 years – which feels like a quick walk across a short stage.”

During Kleinsmith’s tenure, the school’s student population has nearly doubled to 6,300. In 2016, he led Nixa toward becoming the first school district in Christian County to go 1:1 with technology for all grades through the ConnectEd program. Since his hire, eight bond issues totaling $70.95 million have passed.

“No one bond issue failed,” he says. “It’s impressive to just look at the access to all that money … but to earn and maintain the trust of the community means the most to me.”

Looking to retirement, Kleinsmith says he plans to advocate for public education on the state level, in addition to potentially working part-time at a university to do research and teach program development.

Gov. Eric Greitens has taken note. While presenting the 2017 budget at NPS’ Peggy L. Taylor Early Learning Center on Feb. 2, the governor requested Kleinsmith provide counsel for educational affairs.

“I want to sit at a table with other people of goodwill and address the issues of education reform with a focus on maintaining local control as well as embracing some, if not many, of the rich traditions of public education,” Kleinsmith says.


No comments on this story |
Please log in to add your comment
Editors' Pick

Bitcoin Bonanza: Cryptocurrency profits draw investors in the Ozarks

Sharply rising prices and a growing variety of cryptocurrencies are motivating people to get on the investment bandwagon.

Most Read
SBJ Live logo
Consistent Marketing

 “Marketing for a company can be very interesting, in the sense that it’s hard to stand out in the crowd from everyone else,” says Alisa Lawler, Vice President of Marketing and Business …

Booked - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People “I think it’s a really great book and I wish I had read it earlier in my career,” says Candida Deckard, the Director of Human Resources and Safety at CNH Industrial Reman and one of Springfield …
From Concept to Completion “Every day we’re still learning. We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to get there,” says Cosmo Kwon, Co-Owner of Hinode in Nixa, Mo. Kwon says there is a huge difference in purchasing an …
Building on Each Other’s Strengths “To be good at business, or whatever you do, you need know what you can do and what you’re not good at,” says Eric Jones, co-owner of United States of Apparel. “When you’re not good at …
Carry On: Dealing with Overwhelm Do you feel overwhelmed? Is it a skill issue, a mindset issue or both? Marlene Chism, author, consultant and expert on stopping workplace drama, has some tips to help you deal with these situations. …