LeCompte hanging up education hat
Cassville assistant superintendent plans to run for county clerk
After 30 years in education, Cassville Assistant Superintendent Jill LeCompte is hanging up her education hat and hoping to don political headgear as she is planning a run for Barry County Clerk.
A 1984 Cassville graduate, LeCompte has an undergraduate and master's degree in education administration from the University of Arkansas, plus an administration specialty degree from Missouri State University.
Her career began in the Purdy school district, teaching first grade for three years. She then transitioned to Cassville, spending 12 years in elementary and middle school classrooms before rising to middle school assistant principal in 2000. One year later, she assumed the principal role in that school. After having a child in 2004, she started in 2005 as the intermediate school principal, then became director of instruction, later named assistant superintendent, in 2010.
"This is my eighth year in that position," she said. "Thirty years is a long time in education, and I've always been interested in politics. My grandfather was a sheriff and my uncle was the circuit clerk for a while, and there's a lot of other political experience in my family.
"When I heard [current Barry County Clerk] Gary Youngblood was not running for his position again, I thought it would be a great challenge for me."
LeCompte said a lot has changed in her time in education, especially when it comes to the proliferation of technology.
"The introduction of technology and student having individual devices is the biggest change, also in the early '90s when the Missouri Assessment Program was introduced," she said. "That's when accountability really changed. No Child Left Behind was also another big change that affected accountability."
LeCompte said the technology, specifically the use of Chromebooks assigned to each student, has changed the dynamic of the classroom since she or her older children attended school.
"The way teachers teach has changed because of technology," she said. "Education is evolving with technology, and the rules are changing because there's so much technology available. When my older kids went through high school, it was still much of the blackboards and text books like what I had. Now, I have a daughter in seventh grade, and with her Chromebook, I see how teachers are using different tools to help kids learn, and that's a good change."
Her favorite part of her career, she said, came in the early 2000s.
"I really loved being a principal," she said. "When I was the middle school principal, we had about 100 kids more than we do now. It was wild, but it was really great. Those are the years kids are going through puberty and things can get kind of needy or dramatic, and I loved dealing with that. I loved working with those kids, especially the ones who frequented my office a lot."
That frequency of interaction did not diminish once those students moved on, as LeCompte said she still keeps up with many of her students who have since graduated.
"I do see a lot of those kids since they have grown up," she said. "I've been invited to their weddings, gone to their families' funerals and are friends with many of them on Facebook. So, I'm still in touch with a lot of them."
LeCompte, a Barry County native, also has a daughter who teaches kindergarten at Eunice Thomas Elementary, the primary school named after her aunt.
Planning to leave the district sometime around June, LeCompte said she will surely miss the children the most.
"Central office does not always have a lot of interaction with students, but I am able to go into classrooms and spend time with them," she said. "I know there will not be many kids in the courthouse, but I'm hoping to do some visits and get kids interested in politics.
"The Barry County Courthouse has a very rich history, and I'm hoping to be able to bring that history together with the school."