Lee’s Summit Board of Education announces finalists for superintendent
Search for LSR7 leader has included community involvement meetings and survey
The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education has selected four finalists for the position of school district superintendent following a comprehensive search this fall. Candidates are Dr. David Buck, superintendent, Wright City School District; Dr. Emily Miller, interim superintendent, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District; Dr. Scott Spurgeon, superintendent, Riverview Gardens School District; and Dr. Jami Jo Thompson, superintendent, Norfolk School District in Nebraska.
Plans call for the district’s 2020-21 superintendent to be named at the Board of Education’s Jan. 23 meeting. The new superintendent will begin on July 1.
The finalists will interview with district and community representatives, as well as the Board of Education during the week of Jan. 6. Interview teams meeting with each candidate include parents and community members, students, teachers, support staff and administrators selected to represent the community. Following a full day of stakeholder team interviews, the candidates and their spouses will have dinner with the Board of Education. Each candidate’s day in the district will conclude with an interview with the Board of Education members.
Information about each finalist follows.
Dr. David Buck has served as superintendent for Wright City School District, located approximately 40 miles west of St. Louis, Mo., since 2015. His previous district-level leadership experience includes serving as assistant superintendent for Wright City School District. Additionally, he has worked as a high school principal and coordinator for the Missouri Scholars Academy and as a teacher. Dr. Buck earned his doctorate degree from Missouri Baptist University, educational specialist degree and his master’s degree from the University of Missouri and bachelor’s degree in education from Southeast Missouri State University.
Dr. Buck’s related experiences include earning the American Association of School Administrators National Superintendent Certification and participating in Yale University’s Emotional Intelligence RULER Certification. His professional presentations include Creating a Positive School Culture and Productive Team, The Kolb A, Educational Office Professional Conference. He is also active in several local and state organizations.
Dr. Emily Miller has been the interim superintendent for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District since July 2019. Her previous district-level leadership experience includes serving as assistant superintendent of Operational Services and assistant superintendent of Special Services for the Lee’s Summit School District, director of special education for the Santa Ynez Valley Special Education Consortium (California) and director of special education for the Harrisonville Cass School District. Additionally, she has worked as a special education teacher, process coordinator and teacher. Dr. Miller earned her doctorate degree from St. Louis University, a master’s degree from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in education at George Mason University.
Dr. Miller’s related experiences include earning MO-CASE Recognition and serving as acting MO-CASE treasurer and as a MSBA (Missouri School Boards’ Association) School-Based Mental Health Clinic Team member. She is also active in several local and state organizations.
Dr. Scott Spurgeon has been the superintendent for the Riverview Gardens School District in St. Louis, Mo., since 2013. His previous district-level leadership experience includes serving as superintendent of Belleville High School District (Illinois), associate superintendent for School Leadership and Curriculum in the Rockwood School District (St. Louis) and assistant superintendent for the Northwest R-1 School District (Missouri). Additionally, he has worked as a middle school principal, alternative high school principal, elementary school principal and teacher. Dr. Spurgeon earned his doctorate degree from St. Louis University, educational specialist degree from Oklahoma State University, a master’s degree from Northeastern State University and a bachelor’s degree in education from Northeast Missouri State University.
Dr. Spurgeon’s related experiences include working as an educational consultant for the International Center for Leadership and Development, being named the Missouri Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year in 2019, eLATIONS Honors and receiving the Cultivator Award for Servant Leadership in 2019.
Dr. Jami Jo Thompson has been the superintendent for Norfolk School District in Norfolk, Neb., since 2013. Her previous district-level leadership experience includes serving as director of Student Programs for Beatrice Public Schools (Nebraska) and as special education and staff development coordinator for Beatrice Public Schools. Additionally, she was a special education teacher in the Beatrice School District. Dr. Thompson earned a doctorate degree, specialist degree, master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Dr. Thompson’s related experiences include recognition as a School Improvement Specialist by North Central Organization, receiving the Baker-Gessford School Attorney Award for Leadership in Education Law and graduating from the Midlands Superintendents Academy. Dr. Thompson is also an active member of several local and state organizations.
The superintendent search is being conducted by McPherson and Jacobson, a national superintendent search firm based in Omaha, Neb. The consulting company has worked with the Board members on application vetting, community engagement and information gathering.
The superintendent search’s community involvement phase included an online community survey, available Nov. 12 through 18, as well as 17 stakeholder meetings. Dr. Judy Sclair-Stein and Dr. Jeanette Tendai of McPherson and Jacobson met with parents, community members, students, staff members, principals and other district administrators during November. Feedback from the survey and meetings is available at the district’s webpage.
“We were pleased by the level of community engagement throughout this process,” Dr. Sclair-Stein said. “The people attending the feedback meetings were eager to share their love for the community and their schools. At every session, attendees were passionate about the amazing learning opportunities happening for students in Lee’s Summit.”
Nearly 300 individuals participated in the online survey. Approximately 200 people attended one of the four community meetings in addition to staff members and students participating in small-group sessions with the consultants.
“There were a number of excellent candidates for superintendent,” Dr. Tendai said. “We were impressed by the caliber of the people who applied for this position and feel strongly that any of the four finalists would be able to provide outstanding leadership for Lee’s Summit R-7 as the district moves forward.”
The Board of Education accepted applications for its next superintendent this fall with applications closing on Nov. 21. A total of 24 individuals from eight states applied for the position. After McPherson and Jacobson vetted the candidates and gathered additional information, Board members met with the consultants on Dec. 19 and selected the finalists.
Information about the finalists is being released to the community on Dec. 24 to allow time for the finalists to notify their school boards and communities about their selection. This timing also provided the consultant firm with the opportunity to reach all other candidates regarding the selection of candidates advancing to the next level.
Anyone interested in sharing their thoughts about the superintendent search or candidates is welcome to contact the Board of Education members at this webpage.