Nixa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Kleinsmith is this year’s Superintendent of the Year, named by the Missouri Association of School Administrators.
The honor was announced during the MASA’s annual fall conference over the weekend in Osage Beach.
Kleinsmith, who is retiring next spring, is in his 18th year as Nixa Public Schools' top administrator.
In a news release, the district notes Kleinsmith has built strong and trusting relationships with the Nixa community.
“This trust that our community has in our school district is promoted by the way we have prioritized and selectively abandoned good ideas in favor of great ideas. Anyone can cut away the low hanging fruit. Saying no to good ideas to make room for great ideas takes courage,” Kleinsmith said.
Kleinsmith referenced a similar approach to growing the district when speaking with KSMU in 2016 shortly after announcing his retirement.
“Change is inevitable but the pain is optional, is how I approach things,” he said. “Because it takes a special attitude and this community has that attitude of wanting to be progressive but not foolish along the way. We wanna be risk takers but sensible at it – reasonable with risk-taking,” Kleinsmith said.
According to the district, the superintendent has helped improve its early childhood special education services. In 2014, Nixa Public Schools began using an integrated style classroom, which featured students qualified for special education working alongside typically developing role model students. It has since added six integrated early childhood special education classrooms serving 264 students each year on average.
Since coming to Nixa in 2000, Kleinsmith has overseen the construction of a new high school, two new elementary schools, a new intermediate school, and additions to the junior high and recently built high school.
MASA Executive Director, Doug Hayter, stated over the weekend, "Dr. Kleinsmith is one of the most respected leaders in Missouri education. He is known for his professional demeanor and his willingness to address the important and often challenging aspects of public education. Most importantly, he has always been focused on what is best for students.”
In February, Nixa Public Schools announced its new superintendent search timeline. Applications were scheduled to be accepted from August-October, with interviews set for November and a new superintendent announced in December.
This Saturday, the Nixa Education Foundation is celebrating Kleinsmith with a “good-humored roast” at the White River Conference Center. A limited number of tickets are being sold for “Dr. K…The Man. The Myth. The Legend.”
Dr. Kleinsmith will be recognized during the AASA National Conference on Education in Nashville in February for his state selection.
Follow Scott Harvey on Twitter: @scottksmu