KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier says she is prepared to lead with the intention of changing the narrative of the district to create a community that takes pride in KCPS.
"Everything that I am and everything that I bring, it's needed in this moment. It's needed,” Collier said.
With Thursday’s announcement that Dr. Mark Bedell is stepping down as superintendent, Collier embraces the transition along with the “immense responsibility” to “continue the great work” district leaders have accomplished thus far.
“… I want to do more than just sustain what we've done," she said. "I want to advance our system and continue to make the folks in this community feel proud of who we are, but most importantly, truly prepare our children for their futures."
Collier believes in the value of literacy as it can serve as a “gatekeeper or a passport to a promising future,” according to a KCPS news release.
She has built upon this mission, creating measurable change through her various roles within the district — from teaching to serving as an assistant principal, principal, deputy superintendent and as chief human resource officer.
While at Border Star Montessori as the principal, KCPS reports Collier’s staff “dramatically improved English Language Arts scores and school attendance.”
Her other achievements within the district all have one thing in common: Collier’s ability to lead.
Dedication to education and providing a “rigorous, suitable and culturally responsive education” have led Collier in her vision for the future of KCPS.
"I'm not seeking something else. I love KCPS. This community, the parents I've met along the way. The interesting thing is some of the students that I taught are now parents in KCPS, aging myself a bit," Collier said. "But it's exciting to see the generations come through.
"One of my goals is to change that narrative that people have had over generations. Instead of them saying they've had a negative experience with school, I can't wait to hear more of our parents saying, 'I brought my children to KCPS because of the wonderful experience I had here.'"
Despite her goals for herself, Collier says she knows she’s not the priority. Instead, it’s necessary to step back and continue to “keep that laser focus on our kids.”
“Sometimes in transition, kids get lost, but we have to make sure that they are front and center in all of our decisions, all of our work and all that we do," Collier said.
She fully intends to apply for the permanent role of superintendent. Even with over 70% of women making up the KCPS staff, Collier notes often men still hold such positions of power.
Leading as a woman and being a role model to young leaders, Collier hopes to send a “powerful message” that they have “intellect, they have the ability, they have the charisma and they can be authentically who they are.”
If given the opportunity to serve as the district's superintendent, Collier says it would be “surreal” to become the first Black woman to do so.
“It would be powerful. It would be the realization of one of my dreams, but I think, I keep going back to keeping the emphasis on our students," she said. "I don't want that to be lost in my own aspirations and what I would like to see for myself. I want all of us, our team, our community, everyone to continue to understand how important it is for us to be a student-centered district and community."
Collier officially begins her role as interim superintendent on Aug. 8.