Springfield, MO

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2012 40 Under 40 Honoree: Ben Hackenwerth, Ed.D.

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Ben Hackenwerth strives to provide ongoing learning opportunities for Springfield Public Schools students and leadership enhancement for the people who teach them.

“My professional life centers on the well-being of Springfield’s youth and the continued development of those charged with the care of our youngest residents,” says Hackenwerth, the district’s associate superintendent of educational operations since July.

Hackenwerth holds numerous degrees, including an executive doctorate in educational leadership from St. Louis University, and in his current role, he provides leadership for numerous departments at 33 Springfield elementary schools.

He recently created the Springfield Public Schools Choice and Innovation Core Planning Team of district leaders charged with supporting the schools’ SP5 strategic plan.

“The team works with the school, community, district support services, Superintendent’s Cabinet and board of education throughout the education process to explore, develop and implement the most innovative and engaging educational opportunities possible,” Hackenwerth said.

As part of his support for early childhood education, he helped facilitate the district’s first program for 3-year-olds.

“In addition to my passion for innovation in education, I also believe strongly that early intervention is the key to charting a healthy and productive path for life and, in turn, fostering a civically engaged community,” Hackenwerth says.

He is excited about the development of a community school in the district, which takes a whole-child approach.

“The community school strategy addresses current challenges and accompanying needs seen in both the classroom and our community, including overcoming issues associated with poverty, stronger family engagement and gaps in educational and social services,” Hackenwerth says.

Prior to joining the Springfield district in 2008, Hackenwerth spent six years as an elementary school principal with the Ozark school district.

He helped form the New Principals Cadre for elementary principals in their first three years of service. He also is a per-course instructor in educational leadership at Missouri State University and serves on the Teacher Education Alliance Executive Committee to create strong partnerships between SPS and area colleges and universities.

Click here for full coverage of the 2012 40 Under 40.

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