Dr. Linda Henke to Retire as Maplewood Richmond Heights Superintendent
Assistant Superintendent Karen Hall will succeed her effective July 1, the school district announced Friday morning.
Dr. Linda Henke announced Friday that she will retire June 30 as superintendent of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District. She will be succeeded by Assistant Superintendent Karen Hall, a move that has been planned for four years.
"It's been the best job," Henke said in an interview. She said Hall has "grown into that position beautifully."
Roxanna Mechem, a reading teacher and instructional specialist at MRH Middle School, will succeed Hall as assistant superintendent. The MRH Board of Education unanimously approved the changes at a meeting Thursday night, and the district planned to publicly announce the changes in administration later in the day.
Letters from the superintendent have been prepared for all district students and their families.
Henke, who has served as MRH superintendent for 12 years, is widely credited with turning the district around after it nearly lost accreditation. She joined the district in July 2000 after having worked in various educational capacities, including for 10 years as an assistant superintendent in the School District of Clayton.
Under her tenure in 2010 and 2011, the district earned a top score on Missouri's Annual Performance Report, a district news release states. Other accomplishments include a 15 percent increase in attendance in the district over the past 12 years and widespread facilities upgrades.
Next year, Henke will continue to work with the district on its sustainability and writing programs. She said she has enjoyed working at MRH in large part because of the MRH school board, whose members she said are committed to their work, the district's students and one another. She called the district's teachers and administrators "amazing" people with a high calling.
"That high mission is really what has given me such intense pleasure," Henke said.
She plans to move to Santa Fe, NM, and is in the process of looking for her dream house.
Henke's current yearly salary is $188,598. Hall will make $160,000 in her new role, and Mechem will make $120,000 in her new role.
Hall, the district's new superintendent effective July 1, called the transition the "ultimate ideal situation for any leadership transition." She has worked as assistant superintendent since July 2008. She previously held education roles in the Pattonville, Ritenour and Kirkwood school districts.
She has been working with Mechem, the incoming assistant superintendent, for the past year.
"It's a level of comfort knowing that everything has been laid out for us," Hall said.
Her son attends MRH Elementary School, and she said he is proud to wear his MRH shirt and attend district sporting events.
"This is our life," Hall said of MRH.
Mechem has spent 21 years in education with a focus on developing innovative instructional programs. She previously worked in the Rockwood School District.
"This district is me," Mechem said.
Henke said the four-year transition stands in contrast to the average three-year tenure of a district superintendent.
"Districts are in constant whiplash," she said. The MRH school board worked to make sure that didn't happen.
Going forward, district leaders will need to examine its facilities as enrollment grows, Henke said. Hall said another focus will be ensuring the district meets federal education requirements while remaining committed to the whole student and the district's four cornerstones—scholarship, leadership, stewardship and citizenship.
"Everything that we've done—facilities, curriculum, personnel—has been designed to give our children the best education possible," Hall said.
President Maria Langston of the school board said the group is looking ahead. She indicated the moves will keep the district's momentum going.
"We have big, lofty goals ahead of us," said Langston, identifying set scores and programs as two areas that remain a focus. She credited Henke with bringing together community members in Maplewood and Richmond Heights to embrace the district.
Brian Adkisson, the district's director of communications, agreed.
"This is the best way for the district to continue to move forward," Adkisson said.