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Cynthia Reeves | SBJ

2022 Men of the Year: Josh Chastain

Nixa Public Schools

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If there is a leadership initiative or a way to enhance curriculum in Nixa Public Schools, then Josh Chastain is likely involved.

“A community’s future is determined by the successful education of its students,” says Chastain, NPS’ chief academic officer. “They are our future, and we have to make sure that every roadblock … is removed or accounted for so we can make sure they have the tools necessary to become productive citizens.”

Chastain has spent much of his time in NPS administration focused on the instructional framework.

“I credit my team with getting our seven elementary schools aligned in instructional practices and … secondary success goals for our graduates,” says Chastain, who joined NPS in 2007. “I share this vision with everyone from our district leadership, building leadership and teachers. Supporting our teachers in all that they need … has been my top focus.”

He’s also worked to implement Professional Learning Communities throughout the district to foster collaboration among colleagues and developed a multiyear plan to enhance curriculum and provide tools for assessment.

“We spent the first year training our administrators, cabinet, instructional specialists and leadership teams,” he says. “The next few years focused on implementation in each school. … PLC is not just an implementation for our district anymore. It is the way we do business. I am extremely proud of my leadership involvement and opportunity to grow our district.”

Before moving into NPS administration, Chastain started as a principal in the district, which led him to one of his proudest professional achievements: opening the John Thomas School of Discovery, a magnet K-6 school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

“I worked with community partners and families to create the vision for the school,” Chastain says. “The district supported our vision that allowed me to hire the best educators for this journey.

“JTSD has become a model program for schools across the country.”

NPS Superintendent Gearl Loden credits Chastain with exemplary leadership across many educational areas, particularly the challenges of COVID.

“Josh, in my opinion, is a large part of Nixa Public Schools’ success with uninterrupted seated (pre-K)-12 classes throughout the school year, which began with our seated summer school program and reopening the first elementary seated classes in the state,” says Loden. “I believe all of these efforts are a large part of why the Missouri Department of Education’s assessments ranked our students’ success as the only district that improved test scores when other districts across the state and nation struggled to stay the same and even fell.”

After two decades in education, Chastain hasn’t lost his enthusiasm for what comes next. His vision: a one-stop family learning center for NPS that eventually includes a mobile unit offering similar services.

“The possibilities are endless as we look to the future of support for Nixa families,” he says.

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