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Teachers hope new interim Joplin schools superintendent brings c - KOAM TV 7

Teachers hope new interim Joplin schools superintendent brings change

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Joplin, MO -

Joplin's new interim school superintendent makes his face and opinions known to the public.  The new interim superintendent was introduced during a media event, where teachers and staff were also invited to meet the newest member of Joplin's school board.

"I know we have a school board that really has a huge appetite, but doesn't know for sure what they're doing," says Interim Superintendent Norm Ridder.

The Joplin School District's new interim superintendent says he doesn't mince words.

"I don't know if the committee understands the children very well," says Ridder.

By committee, Ridder means Joplin's school board.

"I see that as a gap.  I'm anticipating, what I'm seeing is, there's a gap between the frequent voter, the teacher, the parent, and student performance," says Ridder.

Adrianne Pfeffer says she knows all about those gaps.

"Fear of disagreeing or having a different opinion, there was a big concern of what that might equivilate to," says Pfeffer.

Pheffer used to teach second and third grades in the Joplin School District.

"If you're afraid, or if you feel shut down, or if your thoughts or opinions don't match others, it does kind of clip your wings, so to speak," says Pfeffer.

Ridder says he hasn't heard of the types of concerns Pfeffer has, because he hasn't talked to teachers yet.

"Talk to me in six weeks," says Ridder.

But the new interim superintendent says generally, teachers should have more say in school programs and district-wide decisions.  Ridder wants to start new groups of teachers to talk about ways of improving the school district.

"My expectations:  Listen first, act second," says school board member Jeff Koch.

And whether they be expectations from the school board or teachers, Ridder says he'll deliver.

"You guys are really going to have a good time.  And if you're not, it's your fault," says Ridder in a kidding manner, bringing laughter to the audience.

Ridder has been superintendent of other school districts, such as in Springfield, Missouri.  Ridder has signed a two-year contract with the Joplin School District, with the second year being optional.

"We've agreed to a two-year agreement with that second year being a school option.  So, Dr. Ridder is committed to that second year, should we need him.  And that's something the board is going to have to look at, based on his three-month evaluation of where we are, what needs to be done.  And he's really given us the freedom to say if he's got us on a good course," says Koch.

Work to hire a new permanent superintendent will begin this fall.

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