Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) announced today that Superintendent Dr. Mark Bedell will be leaving the district after six years. The KCPS Board of Directors has voted unanimously to make Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier Interim Superintendent for the 2022-23 school year.
Dr. Bedell, Dr. Collier and Board Chairman Nate Hogan will hold a news conference at 9:45 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, June 10, 2022, at the Board of Education, 2901 Troost Ave.
“Over the past six years, with the leadership of Dr. Bedell, the KCPS Board, and with the efforts of our teachers, staff, and administrators, we have worked to educate, encourage and support our students,” a statement from the KCPS Board reads. “ We have accomplished so much together. With gratitude and mutual respect, today we share with our community that Dr. Bedell will be leaving KCPS later this summer.”
Dr. Bedell shared a letter with the district on Thursday:
“We have accomplished so much together these last six years. It has been a phenomenal experience working alongside all of you to achieve accreditation for our students. However, the time has come for me to move on personally and professionally. Today I am announcing my resignation from Kansas City Public Schools, effective August 5, 2022.
I know this announcement may come as a surprise. When the KCPS Board of Directors took a chance on me in 2016, I promised to move this district to full accreditation. Together, we increased our graduation rate from 68% to 78%. We increased the number of KCPS students taking Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual credit classes by 44% — and quintupled the number of students who received college credit. Nearly 300 students have graduated from our Middle College program, many of whom wouldn’t have received a diploma without support from KCPS, Metropolitan Community College and the Full Employment Council. Think about the lives we have changed as a result.
After the Missouri State Board of Education restored our accreditation in January, I emphasized that the work would continue — and it will. What we have built over the last six years is a solid foundation of support for our students and families. I am leaving strong people and programs in place, and I trust them to keep moving KCPS forward. Deputy Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier has 23 years of experience in KCPS, serving as teacher, assistant principal, principal and Chief Human Resource Officer. The board unanimously voted for Dr. Collier to be the interim superintendent for the 2022-23 school year. KCPS is in good hands.
To our cabinet members, executive team, principals, faculty and staff across this system, I am truly indebted to you all. I would like to thank the leaders of our collective bargaining unit for collaborating on a more competitive salary schedule to recognize the hard work of Team KCPS. I also want to thank the many board members I have worked with, including our current board members, who have been outstanding partners in this work. The board has supported me at every request from a budgetary and guidance standpoint. Our community should be proud of them and their dedication to KCPS kids.
However, there’s so much that is needed that’s beyond their control — and mine. The issues that have kept me up many nights are not ones I can solve as superintendent. I’m talking about racism, injustice, a lack of affordable housing, inequitable economic development practices, violence and other systemic issues that cannot be solved in our classrooms alone. Dr. Collier will need the support of the city and community if this district is to continue to make progress.
That said, we would not have received full accreditation after 22 long years without the support of the business sector, Kansas City’s mayors and our other elected leaders. In closing, I would like to thank the Kansas City community for welcoming me and my family when we moved from Maryland to Missouri. KCPS will always have a place in my family’s heart. The district graduated two of my kids and has prepared our youngest daughter for her middle school years and beyond.
Thank you for letting me lead us toward a brighter future for all children in our city.”
“One of the leading school administrators inthe country, Dr. Mark Bedell has transformed Kansas City Public Schools, regaining accreditation for our schools, improving the lives of thousands of children in our city, and providing stability in the position unknown to generations of Kansas Citians,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said Thursday. “His belief in our children and their potential is unmatched and his leadership in relation to COVID and racial reckoning helped shepherd our city through tough times. More than anything, he is an exceptional father, husband, and teacher. Kansas City will miss him. I will miss him even more. I wish him well.”
Dr. Jennifer Collier, longtime KCPS educator and leader, was the clear and unanimous choice to ensure continuity of the changes that have been implemented during Dr. Bedell’s tenure, according to the Board.
“Responsibility for pursuing and building upon his accomplishments will remain with the KCPS Board and our Interim Superintendent, Dr. Jennifer Collier,” the statement reads. “We best honor Dr. Bedell’s work by striving every day to serve our kids, our families and our community.”
Collier has served as an educator in KCPS for 22 years. She’s been a teacher, assistant principal, principal, Chief Human Resource Officer and Deputy Superintendent. Collier earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, a Master’s of Arts in education from Avila University and an Educational Specialist degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She received her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from UMKC in 2018. A life-long learner, Collier has completed the National Institute of School Leaders (NISL) program and is a certified NISL trainer. In this role, she has provided training for educators and school leaders across the state of Missouri. She also received a certificate from the Harvard University School Turnaround Leaders Institute in 2019. Additionally, Collier is Professional of Human Resources (PHR) certified.
Collier comes from a family of educators, and education has always played an integral role in her life. She is very passionate about education and believes that all children deserve access to a rigorous, equitable and culturally responsive education, as it has the power to unlock doors of experience, access and opportunities that would otherwise be closed. One of Collier’s most urgent academic goals is to ensure that KCPS students are proficient readers. She believes that literacy is a social justice issue and every child, no matter their race, social-economic status, zip code or education level of their parents, has the right to learn to read. It is a moral imperative, as competence in literacy will either serve as a gatekeeper or a passport to a promising future. With laser-like focus on literacy, math and culturally responsive practices, KCPS will be on our way toward fulfilling our mission of every child thriving socially, emotionally and academically.
Collier has built long-lasting relationships during her tenure with the district. A classically-trained vocalist, she taught music at Northeast High School for a decade before stepping into building leadership roles. Later, as principal of Border Star Montessori, Collier and her staff dramatically improved English Language Arts scores and school attendance. As Chief Human Resource Officer, she established a recruitment/retention team to attract and hire top certified talent to KCPS. During her tenure as CHRO, KCPS was also able to increase the number of teachers of color serving in our schools and classrooms. Under Collier’s leadership, the HR team also made improvements to the district’s evaluation program, onboarding process and Leadership Continuity Plan for executive- and building-level administrators.
As KCPS Deputy Superintendent, Collier managed the academic, social-emotional and operational functioning of schools, overseeing the Departments of School Leadership, Curriculum and Instruction, Professional Development, Student Support, Equity and Inclusion and Human Resources. Under her leadership, KCPS launched Project “Support Our Schools,” an initiative to help schools address pandemic-related staffing shortages. Currently, she is leading her departments in a culturally responsive curriculum audit ahead of the 2022-23 school year and overseeing academic vision work as part of the district’s Blueprint 2030 future planning process.
Collier delights in the opportunity to lead the district that she loves and has served over the last 22 years. She believes that KCPS’ best days are yet to come.
More information about opportunities to celebrate Dr. Bedell and welcome Dr. Collier will be shared at a later date.