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.
The first of SBJ's forums detailing Economic Growth Survey results is held.
Scott Shotts, partner with Missouri Spirits, says when they started in 2011 there were approximately 300 distilleries in the U.S. and now there are more than 3,000 so competition has grown significantly. Diversification of their business model has helped them succeed.
Matthew Blystone of Theta Float Spa had the financial means to start the unique business, but used crowdsourcing for pre-orders to determine market interest in addition to gathering a nice cash reserve before opening.
Avery Parrish with the Springfield Regional Arts Council explains how businesses can display local art in their spaces for a fraction of the price of investing in a permanent collection. The corporate partnership program allows a business to select from a customized portfolio of local artists' work curated based on the company's mission and aesthetic that can be switched out every six or 12 months.
After a year of experiential market research, Danny Collins, 37 North founder and guide, found three ways they plan to expand. Some were anticipated and others were not expected until they …
Inspirational speaker Chad Porter shares his story of turning a tragic accident that took him to the darkest depths into a rewarding career as a motivational speaker and business coach.
"For me success is...a little bit fleeting. Today's success and goal achieved only lasts about that long," says Curtis Millsap, owner of Millsap Farms. Look beyond the day-to-day financial achievements to the long-term victories.
Danny Collins, 37 North founder and guide, took his experience as an expedition manager for National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World in Ecuador to start his Ozarks based outdoor activity company. Since launching the company, he has relied on post-trip evaluations and prospective customer input to guide the course.
Jennifer Rothschild, author and speaker, says, "With the blessing of the success that we've experienced came something I did not expect, which was the need to lead. And, I am a reluctant leader." She realized that her ministry was managed very well, but the ministry's most valuable asset, the people, were not being led well. She gives you three choices she had to make as a reluctant leader. Jennifer Rothschild was one of nine leaders who presented at the 2018 Springfield Business Journal's 90 Ideas in 90 Minutes.
Miles Boyer, Office Manager for the Southern Region of the Builders’ Association, recognizes they are competing for their members' time. That means doing new and different thing are of value to guarantee that their members will participate in classes and events.
Ömer Önder, owner of Springfield Diner, learns the results of a customer survey conducted by Longitude LLC. Dustin Myers and Jeremy Wells, owners of the branding agency, inform Ömer that his customers are looking for a shift in his menu offerings. Made to Order is an ongoing sbjLive documentary series in collaboration with Springfield Business Journal tracking the rebranding of a local restaurant. See ongoing coverage at: sbj.net/madetoorder