Karen Hall, school district’s new superintendent of schools, said many of her peers are in the same shoes she’s in, but she the “luckiest of them all.”
Hall was assistant superintendent to Linda Henke the last five years. Henke took the job 12 years ago, when the district was close to losing accreditation. Now, in the last three years, the MRH school district received the highest score possible from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“I feel that I’ve inherited such a gift,” Hall said. “To have worked side by side with Linda, and then to inherit this amazing school district.”
Her first goal is to talk to the stakeholders in the community about what they love about MRH. She began doing it in February.
“That’s important; being very visible, building those relationships, and ensuring everyone feels like, ‘you know, we are going to continue,’” she said. “The best is yet to come.”
For now, Hall said she needs to help the new administrators focus on and think clearly about MRH’s four cornerstones: scholarship, leadership, stewardship, and citizenship.
“When you’re dealing with new administrators, and this is such a incredibly different place, I have to be a teacher,” she said. “We don’t compromise the integrity of what we really believe in and how we do our work.”
Following that, her bigger focus will be the ‘citizenship’ cornerstone.
“To be more specific, global citizenship, because we’re talking about 21st century skills, and the global relationships that our kids are going to be moving into when they’re in the workplace, when they’re out of high school,” she said.
Hall plans on expanding foreign language studies at MRH, forming partnerships with schools in different countries, and sending students on apprenticeships and expeditions in other countries.
“We travel in the United States, that’s part of the expeditionary model we have at the middle school,” she said. “Now at the high school we need to really develop that metaphor.”
She said not every student will be in a position or have the interest to study a foreign language to that degree. She mentioned recent graduate John Barron, who traveled to Spain the summer before his senior year as an example. Hall said she’s developing experiences at each level, and students will have different opportunities if they’re interested.
She’d like all students to participate in a program called Heifer Ranch, where students are given scenarios, and role-play, to learn how someone in a different part of the world might deal with a difficult situation.
“It’s time to really expand and clarify those four years of high school,” Hall said, “to make sure that our kids go above and beyond.
“Colleges will want an MRH kid, and that’s my goal,” she said.