Springfield, MO

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Photo Essay: My Day with John Jungmann

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During John Jungman’s 11-hour workday on June 25, I spent eight hours with the Springfield Public Schools’ superintendent. That’s a big ask of any executive, but I got a sense he enjoyed being able to talk about the work of the state’s largest school district.

He was a good sport, too, answering detailed questions like: What did you have for lunch? (A Taco Bell burrito and Diet Pepsi.) How many cups of coffee do you have in the morning? (One. He started drinking coffee when he took the job with SPS.) Do you exercise? (Yes, but not on board meeting days. He’s training for a half marathon in Chicago.) How old are you? (42.)

Over the course of the day, shadowing Jungmann brought me to Lake Springfield, the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks Inc. and two SPS administration buildings. I watched him interact with students, lead at least four meetings, and attend a retirement party and a three-hour board meeting. Read the full story.

—Photos by Christine Temple and Jessica Rosa

This was my favorite start to a workday. It began on Lake Springfield, kayaking with a middle school Explore class. I hadn’t planned to get in a kayak that morning, evident by my wardrobe, but I’m not one to pass up fun. Some quick paddling got me caught up with Jungmann and the class, and I had a front-row seat to the superintendent interacting with kids. My first impression of SPS’ top leader is that he is a patient teacher. That was evident throughout the rest of the day.

Jungmann says he often works 12-hour days throughout the school year. That doesn’t leave much time for family during the week, but he protects his weekends to spend with the ladies in his life: wife, Kerry, and daughters Halle, 17, Macie, 14, and Jolie, 7. This week the family is together in Riviera Maya, Mexico, for vacation.

Members of SPS’ top leadership gather for an hour-long meeting to discuss the transition plan for Mike Dawson and Marty Moore, as the two executives exited the district last week. This is one of several back-to-back afternoon meetings. Jungmann doesn’t skip a beat transitioning from one topic to the next.

Jungmann has some laughs at Ann White’s retirement party. As the district’s administrative liaison, she fields calls from concerned parents, hence why they jokingly call White a psychiatrist at the party. Jungmann thanks White for her service and is all smiles reading some of her Top 10 list of strange stories from her time at the district.

A three-hour board meeting is not for the faint of heart. Attending one of SPS’ meetings gives a new appreciation for the seven board members who serve as Jungmann’s bosses. He seems to have a strong relationship with each of the members, especially board President Tim Rosenbury.


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