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Brendan Eisenmenger, then principal of Heber Hunt Elementary, got into the fall spirit by creating a pumpkin of his own, a likeness of himself, for the school’s inaugural pumpkin decorating contest in 2016. The money raised by the penny war was used for Heber Hunt’s Helping Hands Fund to help when a student or staff member faces an emergency situation.

The Sedalia School District 200 and Sedalia community lost a dedicated and caring administrator and teacher with the death of Brendan Eisenmenger on Friday.

Eisenmenger, 37, was a true example of giving back to the district from which he graduated. A 2001 graduate of Smith-Cotton High School, Eisenmenger returned to Sedalia after graduating from college to spend his entire career in the district before stepping down from his position Oct. 17.  

Eisenmenger received his Bachelor’s in Education from Missouri State University, a Master’s in Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his Specialist in Education from William Woods College in Fulton. He began his teaching career in Sedalia in 2006 as a science teacher at Sedalia Middle School and Smith-Cotton Junior High before being named principal of Heber Hunt Elementary in 2014. Following a one-year leave of absence he returned to SMS as principal in 2018. 

“He set high goals for himself, and successfully attained them,” Eisenmenger’s obituary noted.

“Known as “Mr. E” to his students, Eisenmenger actively focused on the needs of students’ education and engagement and strived to provide a secure, structured learning environment for them.

“He would go to great lengths to motivate his students and, when his students reached their goals, the results often found Mr. E taped to a wall, tossed in a pool, or sporting a new haircut,” the obituary continued. “He enjoyed every aspect of education and wanted the best for each student he came in contact with.”

Those who knew and worked with Eisenmenger remarked upon his dedication and the respect he had for his students and those he knew and came in contact with.

“Although his life was too short, Mr. Eisenmenger left a great legacy,” former Sedalia 200 Superintendent Brad Pollitt said. “He was a great role model for how to be a great husband, father, son, brother and loyal friend. 

“Brendan’s upside was as high as any administrator I had ever worked with,” he continued. “I will miss him.”  

Eisenmenger strove to create innovative and meaningful ways to encourage a sense of pride and family among his students. Students of the district will long remember the annual Heber Hunt Thanksgiving Dinner he made sure to continue when he became principal and the Classic Christmas Dinner at the Middle School that he helped to develop. Eisenmenger could be found working alongside students as they decorated pumpkins for Halloween and would share in the success of his students when they would reach an attendance goal no matter what it meant he might find himself doing.

Realizing his students at the middle school still needed a break during the instructional day, Eisenmenger, with approval from the Sedalia 200 Board of Education, re-instituted a recess period for students this fall. It created a daily schedule similar to the elementary schools to help fifth-grade students develop further prior to their junior high years. The SMS team planned a more traditional homeroom schedule with the intent of providing movement and playtime breaks in the students’ schedule other than their physical education class. 

“Brendan Eisenmenger was a student-centered leader from his first days in our district as a classroom teacher,” Sedalia 200 Superintendent Steve Triplett said. “As he moved into administration roles, he quickly earned the respect of his teachers and staff members, as well as that of his fellow principals. 

“He was an innovator whose focus was always on what is best for students academically and as whole people,” Triplett continued. “Brendan's leadership at the Sedalia Middle School will benefit students for years to come. I am so proud that I got to work with him and even more grateful that I was able to call him my friend.”

A memorial service will be hosted at 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7 at the Heckart Performing Arts Center at Smith-Cotton High School, 2010 Tiger Pride Blvd. Following the service, the family will receive friends in the Smith-Cotton High School Library and Commons Area. Arrangements are under the direction of Heckart Funeral Home in Sedalia.

Sedalia 200 schools will dismiss two hours earlier than their normal release time on Thursday to allow staff and students the opportunity to attend the service. The Pettis County Cooperative will not be in session on Thursday. 

In lieu of flowers, his family has requested contributions be made to the Sedalia School District Foundation designated for the Brendan Eisenmenger Student Impact Fund. According to Eisenmenger’s obituary, “the fund will be used to directly impact and enrich the individual and collective lives of Sedalia School District 200 students by identifying and funding specific needs and educational opportunities to nurture continual student growth and success.”

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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