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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Men of the Year: John Jungmann

Maximum Strategic Impact LLC

Posted online

With the Springfield schools’ superintendent job freshly in his rearview mirror, John Jungmann can take a record stat with him into retirement: 93.4%.That’s the highest graduation rate in the history of Springfield Public Schools.

“Graduation rates are as important as test scores in assessing the performance of a school system,” Jungmann says.

And the high mark was achieved in the year of the coronavirus pandemic, when students were learning virtually and teachers were under unusual pressures. The record didn’t happen by accident.

“I implemented a strategy to increase the graduation rate of all student populations with an intensive focus on under-resourced and under-represented students,” Jungmann says, noting his motivation: “Students without high school diplomas are less likely to be employed, have high rates of incarceration and poorer health outcomes, are more likely to require public assistance, and are less likely to vote.”

Over a two-year period, Jungmann watched the plan work, particularly at Central and Hillcrest high schools. Their graduation rates jumped over 15 percentage points, from roughly 75% in 2019 to rates in the low 90s at both schools. Jungmann says the previous district record was 89.4%, and it was down to 85.8% in 2018.

SPS Board of Education President Alina Lehnert notes another record in Jungmann’s cap: passage of the largest district bond issue in history. The $168 million Proposition S, approved by voters in 2019, is bringing improvements to 39 SPS buildings, with an emphasis on safety, accessibility and quality, according to SPS’ website.

Lehnert says Jungmann’s seven-year tenure also will be remembered for two key projects: Ignite, which put technology tools in the hands of each SPS student, and Launch, a virtual education system.

“I have often described him as a strategic visionary. Never more was that realized than during this past year,” she says. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, because these initiatives were already in place at SPS, John led the district – 25,000 students and 3,500 staff – into a fully virtual learning environment within a week’s time to finish out the 2019-20 school year. The same year, the highest graduation rate was achieved. It was as if his life’s work led him to this exact moment.”

The Jungmann legacy trail, according to Lehnert, includes development of a new strategic plan, systemwide focus on equity and diversity, and completion of the facilities master plan.

He’s worked the past 23 years for Missouri schools – in Liberty, Monett and Lamar before Springfield.

In the community, he’s served on nearly a dozen boards, including Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and  GO CAPS.

No longer on the SPS payroll, Jungmann is moving into consulting under his newly organized Maximum Strategic Impact LLC. He’s also working part time as a coordinator of sales in Missouri for PMA Financial Network LLC.

“I followed the career path I did because three educators took an interest in me during my school years,” Jungmann says. “My goal is to continue to provide support and expertise to schools in my community and communities across the state of Missouri. I want to continue to support the work of public school systems in Missouri in an effort to repay a small portion of what was invested in me.”

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