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Jefferson City Public Schools Superintendent Reflects Before Retirement

For Dr. Brian Mitchell, educating children has been his life’s work. 26 years after starting as a second grade teacher in Morgan County, Mitchell’s career in education will end after this school year.

He also spent time teaching in Bolivar, Missouri before he got his first administration job as an Assistant Principal in Bolivar. He got his first principal job in Greenfield, MO, and served as Superintendent for the Fair Play R-2 school district and as Deputy Superintendent for the Independence school district before coming to Jefferson City in 2009.

“I had great teachers in school and in my family,” Mitchell said. “I had in interest in coaching and I felt that my calling brought me to education.”

Mitchell said he had many points of pride during his tenure in Jefferson City, including the investment in early childhood education, the renewed discussion for a second high school, and the district’s ability to give employees raises every year during the national economic downturn without having to increase taxes.

City and school district leaders said Mitchell provided a vision for where progress could be made and how to bring Jefferson City to the forefront in education.

“He pushed us to really define what excellence is, what it looks like, and where education is going and where there is really some gaps,” school board president John Ruth said of Mitchell. “He showed people where there are needs for improvement and defined what excellence is in the classroom.”

“He’s been really forward thinking in his attitudes about education,” said President of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce Randy Allen. “The workforce is changing, educational requirements are changing, and I think he was a real friend when it came to that.”

The Jefferson City School board named Dr. Larry Linthacum as Mitchell’s successor in December. Ruth says Linthacum has been updated frequently on what’s going on in the district, so the transition process should go through smoothly. Linthacum officially begins his duties on July 1st.

As for Mitchell, he is not retiring in the traditional sense. His family started a biodiesel company back in the fall, and he will spend more time involved with that.

“It’s certainly not retirement from work,” Mitchell said. “Now it’s about turning the page and starting a new chapter.”

Kyle Norris is from Michigan and spent ten years as a host and reporter with Michigan Radio, the state’s largest NPR-affiliate. He lives in Seattle and works as a producer, reporter and educator.