The Exeter R-VI School District welcomed a new elementary school principal at the start of the 2008-09 school year. Tami Kester has an extensive background in elementary education.
"I really love working in smaller districts," said Kester. "You have an opportunity to get to know everybody better. You can see that this community really cares about the school."
Kester began her career in education, teaching sixth grade at Granby Elementary School in the East Newton School District. After around four years, she accepted a teaching position at Goodman Elementary School in the Neosho School District where she taught fourth and fifth grades for four years.
Prior to accepting the elementary school principal's position at Exeter, Kester taught third and sixth grades at Pineville Elementary School in the McDonald County School District for five years.
"I have always wanted to go into administration," said Kester. "I saw this job posted on-line and I was familiar with the town. I lived just down the road when I was attending Missouri Southern."
Kester hopes to bring an enthusiasm for creative thinking to the district. She plans to introduce some new incentive programs to help boost student attendance and academic performance.
"I think I bring a dedication and willingness to try new things," said Kester. "I have a drive to help push others to do what is needed to help the kids."
Kester also plans to concentrate on improving communication between parents and teachers.
"This is a very caring district," said Kester. "I met the school board first. They are very dedicated and more hands on than any of the other boards I have worked with.
"The teachers here are also very willing to work hard and really care about the kids," said Kester. "The other administrators have also been very easy to work with and willing to help."
Kester has an associates degree from Crowder College in Neosho and a bachelor's degree in education from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. She also received a master's degree in administration from Williams Woods University in Fulton.
Kester lives in Neosho with her husband, Curt, who is a respiratory therapist. Kester's oldest daughter, Lauren, works as an assistant manager for a retail store. Tyler, who is 15, attends Neosho High School.
Kester's other children, Danielle, 10, Laura, 9, and Kati, 5, attend Exeter Elementary School.