Springfield, MO

2011 Men of the Year Honoree: Stephen Kleinsmith, Ed.D.

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Nixa Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Kleinsmith is a man on a mission to eliminate barriers to student learning, and with his guidance, the school district is making the grade.

For 10 years straight, Nixa Public Schools has been accredited with distinction by the Missouri Department of Education.

“It has taken a team effort from every member of our community, as well as a continuous and sustainable focus, to achieve this goal,” Kleinsmith says.

Kleinsmith credits two-way communication with helping the district and its students succeed.

“One has to set high standards and then allow others around you to help build the ladder that will reach that goal,” Kleinsmith says. “A leader must know when to lead and when to let someone else take the reins while you serve as a guide to the end result.”

As superintendent since 2000, Kleinsmith has established professional development opportunities aimed at keeping Nixa educators on the cutting edge for best practices in teaching.

“I understand the importance of collaboration and provide Nixa staff the time to communicate with each other, problem solve, and set goals for their students, buildings, and the district staff,” he says.

The results speak for themselves. In 2010, Nixa student proficiency in reading and writing climbed to 72 percent, up from 49 percent in 2002.

Kleinsmith also is engaged in meeting students’ needs beyond the classroom. He served on the steering committee for Care to Learn’s Nixa chapter, which provides backpacks filled with food for more than 135 Nixa students each weekend, as well as clothing, medical and dental care for hundreds of other students in need. He also has worked with the American Red Cross, Nixa Community Foundation and United Way of the Ozarks, and he’s a member of the Least of These Advisory Board and Nixa Ministerial Alliance.

“I believe it is a moral responsibility to give back to the community,” he says. “Being the superintendent of schools affords me a unique opportunity to touch the lives of more than 5,000 students and their families through my leadership in local civic organizations.”

Kleinsmith also has served as a past chairman of the Nixa Area Chamber of Commerce and is still a member of the organization. His chamber involvement, he says, resulted in mutual trust and strategic planning that benefited the school district and the community as a whole.

“My passion is to help children and often look for opportunities that lead to helping our community be a better place for families to live,” he says. “A community must care about the people who live there.”

From 2011 Men of the Year
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