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McKenzie Robinson | SBJ

2021 Most Influential Women: Shonna Crawford

Evangel University

Posted online

Last edited 1:39 p.m., Oct. 4, 2021

Shonna Crawford, chair of Evangel University’s Education Department, has worked with a lot of students and teachers in her 21 years in education.  

She started her career in Springfield as a third-grade teacher at Weller Elementary. This year is her fifth in her current role, where she leads a university department with a doctoral program, three master’s programs and 20 undergraduate education programs.  

Under Crawford’s leadership, Evangel’s education graduates have a placement rate of over 95%, and its doctoral program has 77 students, Crawford says.  

“Each year I lead our Education Department with a theme – Shine, Wonder, Lift and Goodness – aimed at empowering my team to lead themselves and others, as well as serve our undergraduate and graduate students each day,” she says. “What a joy it is to mentor, equip and empower current and future educators.”  

For Crawford, helping young people is a calling.  

“My life’s passion is to ensure all kids and youth receive an amazing education from caring, responsible and inspiring educators in a safe and engaging environment,” she says.  

She collaborates with local school districts to equip new teachers through yearlong student teaching internships, and she also continues to serve Weller Elementary through the Reading Buddies and Half-Hour Heroes programs. Crawford says such initiatives make her grateful to live and work in southwest Missouri alongside others who value their community and prioritize serving one another.  

Crawford earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from Evangel. One of her greatest pleasures is speaking to the undergraduate student body in campus chapel services.  

“It is a humbling joy to speak into the hearts and lives of our students with encouraging messages about serving others, maintaining a positive perspective and choosing love and unity,” she says  

She earned her doctorate in learning, teaching and curriculum with an emphasis in literacy and early childhood from University of Missouri in 2015, and now part of her job is to lead dissertation committees. So far, she has advised three dissertations, with two more in process, and she has served on four other dissertation committees.   

These students often move into education leadership positions after earning their doctorates, and Crawford says this makes school systems stronger and more dynamic.  

In 2020, Crawford and her students collaborated with CoxHealth, along with students and faculty from Drury University, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working under the leadership of Andy Hedgpeth, vice president of human resources at CoxHealth, the group assisted with a Child Education Center to provide temporary child care for hospital workers’ school-age children who were displaced by alternate learning schedules at school. Students earned course credit for lending a hand while gaining field experience. 

“This collaboration across our community was beneficial for families during a difficult and challenging time,” she says.  


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