Norm Ridder is the superindendent of school for Springfield Public Schools. KSMU's Missy Shelton talks with him about his background, his leadership philosophy and the vision he has for the district.
It's been a little more than one year ago that Norm Ridder moved to Springfield to become superintendent of schools.
Longtime school district employees who have seen superintendents come and go have good things to say about Ridder.
Anita Kissinger is Executive Director of Quality and Development for Springfield Public Schools. She has worked in the district for 22 years.
Longtime district administrator Gary Prouty says Ridder has made him feel like he's making a difference.
Prouty is the principal at Glendale High School and has worked in the Springfield Public School district for 32 years.
Prouty says one of Ridder's strengths is the fact that he's approachable. He says that characteristic is evident to administrators, teachers, parents and students, including Prouty's own children who go to school in the district.
District employees say Ridder has developed a good relationship with the community.
Marc Maness is Director of Community Development and Grants. Ridder is the third superintendent for whom Maness has worked.
Some district employees say when the school board hired Norm Ridder, it got more than its money's worth because Ridder's wife Nadine is engaged and involved in the district.
Glendale High School principal Gary Prouty says Nadine Ridder is a real asset.
Being involved with the district comes naturally for Nadine, who is a dialysis nurse.
She says she shares her husband's enthusiasm and concern for the district.
Norm Ridder describes how he and Nadine met.
Ridder says his relationship with Nadine and with their children has taught him an important lesson that he's used as the leader of a school district.
The path that led Ridder to being a school superintendent was not a straight one.
Early in his life, being an educator was not his goal...he considered entering the priesthood.
Though he ultimately set that dream aside, he sometimes delivers the homily at a local catholic church.
And he says spirituality is very much a part of his job as superintendent of Springfield Public Schools.
Ridder says children need to learn their value as a human being, not a commodity.
Happiness for Norm Ridder comes from seeing children in difficult circumstances excel.
He says he saw that as Education Director for Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska where he worked with sexually abused boys...And he says that now as superintendent of Springfield Public Schools he often sees children in difficult circumstances do extremely well.
This and other programs in our Sense of Community series are available online at KSMU dot org.