Sedalia School District 200 Superintendent Steve Triplett, a Smith-Cotton graduate, has worked in the district for 27 years in numerous capacities and will mark his one-year anniversary as superintendent July 1. 

“Student success is at the core of everything we do,” Triplett said. “We must continue to provide an environment that supports kids educationally and socially while keeping them healthy and safe.

“While there will be a lot of attention paid to the new early childhood center over the next year or two, we will not lose focus on the needs of our students at all levels,” he added.

The Board of Education approved construction of a 40,000-square-foot Early Childhood Center on the grounds of Smith-Cotton High School. Construction is slated to begin this fall with completion expected by the start of the 2020-21 school year.   

There are other accomplishments of note, according to Triplett. 

“I am really proud of our increased emphasis on safety and security,” Triplett said. “This past school year, we added armed security officers at each of our school buildings and beefed up safety measures across the district, adding more video cameras and enhancing our ‘buzz-in’ procedures at all schools so we know who is visiting and why before they are allowed to enter our buildings.”

Triplett also mentioned the numerous student and staff successes, such as SCHS DECA, FBLA, HOSA and Educators Rising students advancing to the highest levels of their competitions, and Team SCREAM returning to the FIRST Robotics World Championships.

Other student accomplishments include the S-C Envirothon Team winning the Envirothon state championship, many vocal and instrumental music students earning the highest rankings at the state music festival, and the S-C Class of 2019 earning more than $3.5 million in scholarships.

Staff recognition includes SCHS math teacher Jennifer Crane being named Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics Secondary Educator of the Year, SCHS Principal Wade Norton receiving national recognition for his support of theatre education and for students interested in health care occupations, and engineering teacher Michael Wright being named a national finalist for the Woodie Flowers Award, which recognizes adults who commit their time and talent to students in the FIRST Robotics program.

“We were able to celebrate our students exceeding state averages in eight assessments areas on DESE’s Annual Performance Report from 2018,” Triplett noted. “Our score of 93.3% was an increase of 0.8% over the previous school year and is the result of dedicated teachers working with students who strive for success. Simply put, Sedalia 200 students are getting an education that allows them to make their mark in the world and pursue their desired fields.”

To help students meet those needs, Smith-Cotton High School is preparing to move to a one-to-one technology program this year. Every student at the high school will be provided a Chromebook. Triplett said he is looking forward to seeing instruction that expands understanding of technology and how it is integrated into everyday life at work and at home.

In an effort to be more accessible to students and staff and to provide a showcase for their work, Triplett has begun two new programs.

The first is what he calls Chat 'N Chew sessions. The meetings are a way to ensure faculty and staff members have opportunities to ask questions or raise issues face-to-face with Triplett and the district Central Office staff.

“We visited each building once each semester to share breakfast and conversation,” Triplett explained. “I value all of our employees, and this is a way to express my gratitude and interact with them. With my responsibilities as superintendent requiring me to deal with more overarching issues, when I am able to get into our schools that is the thing that reminds me of why I got into education and why I love it as much as I do.” 

Communications Director Bob Satnan came to Triplett with the concept for Day Trippin', a series of video pieces that allow Triplett to “get out and show our community some of the cool projects, initiatives and achievements from across the district.

“They also serve as a great way for me to connect with our students and, it seems, our community, since I have heard from people who have enjoyed the clips,” he added.

Triplett continues to work with the board and administration as the district prepares for the future. With new businesses coming to Sedalia, the district is preparing for increased enrollment and the accompanying challenges. Triplett said he is surrounded by a team of administrators and professionals who share his dedication to the community and its children.

“The best part of my job is seeing the smile on the face of a kid who just cracked the code, who was struggling with a concept and then all of a sudden gets it — they just light up and that is so fulfilling because that is why we get into education, to help students figure it out,” he said.

“I have been fortunate to work for 27 years in the same district where I earned my high school diploma. This has allowed me to build meaningful relationships with teachers and administrators who I truly believe are the best in the state. Every day gives that excellent staff another opportunity to find different or better ways to connect with students and help them reach their goals and dreams.”

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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