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2011 Most Influential Women Honoree: Kara Swofford

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Kara Swofford made stops at virtually all levels of education before arriving at her current role as an assistant professor at College of the Ozarks, including school bus driver, elementary school teacher and principal.

Swofford holds a bachelor’s in elementary education, a master’s in education, a specialist in education degree and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction. She worked at Reeds Spring R-IV School District prior to joining C of O in 2007. She teaches courses on early childhood curriculum and program management and educational media and technology, and she is a student teacher supervisor and sponsor of the Student Missouri State Teacher Association.

“Being a college professor has been a dream come true,” Swofford says. “As an undergraduate student studying to be a teacher, I knew one day, I wanted to be in those shoes when I retired from public school.”

After spending more than a decade in the public school system, Swofford says she has the experience needed to guide college students to be future leaders.

“Coupling my enthusiasm for learning with leadership skills refined throughout my career, I create opportunities for aspiring teachers to learn how to be change agents in their future classrooms, therefore impacting not only the students in my college classes, but future generations,” she says.

And her influence has not gone unnoticed by colleagues.  

“She is able to motivate the most reserved students to get involved in class activities that enhance learning situations,” says Dana McMahon, director of teacher education at College of the Ozarks. “On more than one occasion, she has gone above and beyond expectations to mentor young women who are preparing for the teaching profession. She has provided funds and made arrangements for clothes, eyeglasses and even hair appointments needed by students entering the teaching field.

She has notched numerous honors in education, from being named valedictorian of her class at Billings High School to receiving the Celebrate Literacy Award from the Missouri International Reading Association in 2006 and being named the Table Rock Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Month in April 2007.

She notes, however, that she’s not after the accolades.

“My goal has always been to serve people so that I model and show leadership in action,” she says. “I also feel that communicating with honest, open dialogue has been a genuine leadership trait that I have embraced and promoted. … Being a servant leader has been a rewarding approach for helping others achieve their own dreams.”

Click here for full coverage of the 2011 Most Influential Women.
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