Although she doesn’t spend her days in a classroom, Carol Embree is dedicated to the 25,000 students of Springfield Public Schools.
As deputy superintendent over operations for the largest school district in the state, Embree strives for efficiency to make the most of the district’s $350 million annual budget.
“For every operational process we improve, for every dollar that we find to save, that is more money that can go directly into classroom instructional support – our ultimate goal,” she says.
Embree’s leadership also encompasses human resources, and talent retention and recruitment. That’s no small task as Springfield’s fourth-largest employer with 4,100 employees.
“From the bus driver to the cafeteria worker to the teacher to the principal of a building,” she says, “I help create a culture that ensures every role is focused on the success of our students.”
Embree was promoted to her current role in July 2017 after starting as SPS’ chief financial officer in 2014. She has 26 years of experience on the business side of education, previously holding leadership roles in Blue Springs and Liberty.
She met SPS Superintendent John Jungmann during her time at Liberty Public Schools. He says Embree has a “financier’s mind and a teacher’s heart.”
“I have witnessed firsthand her commitment to providing excellence in service to the school district she is serving, her community and her profession,” Jungmann says. “She maintains a perfect balance of effectively using taxpayer resources and meeting student needs.”
Embree says she’s proud of her role as a mentor for young leaders, as well as her leadership in future planning for the district. She led the effort for the first SPS Facility Master Plan, a long-range plan to evaluate the district’s facilities and construct, renovate and repurpose dozens of schools. In addition, last year Embree says she led a refinancing of the district’s bond debt to the tune of $9.7 million in savings.
Outside of her role at SPS, her passion for children is constant. As a member of Rotary Club of Springfield Southeast, she serves as vice president for Don’t Meth with Us, a nonprofit that educates students about the dangers of drug use. She also serves as a board member for the Missouri Association of School Business Officials, for which she created a local chapter, as well as on Mercy Hospital Springfield’s community board.
“All of these roles allow me to provide leadership and influence so that our children, schools and employers are prepared to develop the future workforce of our community,” she says. “Making a positive impact in their lives ultimately makes a positive impact in our community.”
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