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2020 40 Under 40: David Kelly, 38

Principal, Nixa Public Schools

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David Kelly, a first-year principal at Nixa High School, is no stranger to staff and students there after 11 years as teacher and assistant principal.

He has served on the district’s strategic planning executive committee and the Nixa Education Foundation advisory board. He also has led numerous building committees and established a Veteran’s Day Assembly.

Kelly is passionate about developing the next generation of teachers through the New Teacher Academy, a professional development series he established. As principal, he’s shifting teacher focus from content to instruction and student relationships, and initiating practices to create a more dynamic learning environment.

“We have some really amazing teachers who are excellent at their craft,” he says. “We are creating a culture where teaching and learning are at the center of everything we do.”

What is your proudest moment? Anytime I run into former students.

What are you doing to make the Ozarks better? Education is the best vehicle for upward mobility. Every day we are working to ensure 1,800 students are receiving the best possible education.

What is your best productivity hack? Identify the doers within your organization and then trust them.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? You have to be a good listener to be a great leader.

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