Photo by Brandon Alms
When he was growing up, Stephen Hall wanted to be a TV news reporter. Instead, the 40-year-old discovered his calling is to use communications for the greater good. Since joining the Springfield Public Schools in November 2017, Hall has led the charge to incorporate communication and engagement into the district’s strategic plan. His efforts and those of his four-person team are paying off in big ways.
“I’m encouraged by what we saw through the Prop S process. I really believe that our schools, quality public schools are the heart of any community. I think that more and more people are understanding that ‘I don’t have to have a child enrolled in school to want what’s best for those students or those teachers because the future of our community depends on that.’ We know that the needs of students are changing, that the workforce is changing. I believe it is critical for the school district to work in collaboration with community partners to prepare students for a wide range of opportunities.”
“We’re doing that in a number of ways. We have a number of choice programs for students. We are providing college and career assistance in new ways. We have developed our online curriculum, what we call Launch. Now, we’re up to 168 districts across the state that we’re working with to provide that quality online curriculum developed by Missouri educators for Missouri students.
“We know that if the first online course a student takes is when they’re a freshman in college, they’re at a significant disadvantage because others who have had access to online learning are much more prepared to succeed and thrive in that environment. That’s one of the reasons why we have such an emphasis on technology because we see it as being an equity issue. Students need to be prepared to adapt and thrive in a technologically diverse environment.
“So, I mention all that because I think 10 years in the future, the needs are going to continue to change, and so I’m proud of SPS for being on the forefront and thinking ahead. What are the innovative ways that we can anticipate what’s coming for our students?”
Big Picture: “When I think about [what Springfield looks like] 10 years down the road, I’m thinking about the progress that we’ll make collaboratively in this community, and that starts with our schools.”