Purdy school district recruiting new superintendent

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Gates accepts position in Cassville, leaving vacancy

The Purdy school district is on the hunt for a new superintendent following the resignation of Mindi Gates.

Gates announced that she will be taking a position as elementary principal in her hometown of Cassville, where she graduated high school and began her teaching career. She will remain on in Purdy through the school year, with her last day scheduled for June 30.

Gates began her tenure at Purdy in August 2013, serving as an instructional coach, working with teachers and principals on curriculum and professional development and serving as a mentor to teachers with less than 10 years of experience.

She was named the district’s first associate superintendent in December 2015 and took up the post as superintendent in July 2019.

The Purdy School Board voted in a special session Jan. 25 to hire the Missouri Association of Rural Educators to recruit a new superintendent for the district.

“Both internal and external candidates will be vetted through their selection

process,” Purdy School Public Relations Coordinator Susan Funkhouser said. “A specific date for recruitment opening has not yet been set, but we anticipate early February.”

Funkhouser said the school board is hoping to introduce a new superintendent to school staff and the community before school lets out for the summer.

If a new superintendent can be brought on before the end of the school year, it will give Gates an opportunity to work with her successor.

Gates said spring is a busy time for school districts, as they go about hiring teachers for the next school year and begin working on school budgets.

“That is something I think a new superintendent would like to be part of,” Gates said. “If the board desires, and if there is time, I told the board I would work with the new person so we can have a smooth transition.”

During her time at Purdy, Gates has been a beloved figure among staff members and students, and her presence will be missed.

As superintendent Gates oversaw the design and installation of a beautiful new high school gymnasium floor and was instrumental in the district’s ability to work through the tough climate COVID-19 (coronavirus) brought to education.

“Her outside-the-box thinking and heart for our students led to unique and profound celebrations of our PHS Class of 2020, including a modified graduation,” Funkhouser said. “Finally, she led the charge in welcoming our students back to seated school in fall 2020, implementing a successful masking and social distancing policy and overseeing the installation of additional health and safety equipment and procedures. Our school-related COVID-19 quarantine numbers and positive cases consistently have been lower than the area average because of her efforts.”

“If you ask our students about Mrs. Gates’ most important contribution to our school, they will likely tell you about her morning ritual of greeting each child by name at the door, her above-and-beyond efforts to help struggling seniors earn their diplomas and chart courses for their lives, or her behind-the-scenes work in meeting students’ physical and emotional needs.”

She said teachers and staff would say the same.

“Mrs. Gates encourages and assists in bringing out the best in our team of educators,” Funkhouser said. “Under her leadership, each position is valued equally, and no professional need goes unmet. In Mrs. Gates, Purdy staff members have enjoyed a leader, a cheerleader, a mentor and a friend.”

The feeling is mutual.

“I started here in August 2013, and I found quickly that I just really fell in love with the Purdy district and community. They will be greatly missed,” Gates said. “That’s what makes this transition the hardest.”

While the Purdy school board begins its search for a replacement, board president Todd Schallert said Gates will be missed.

“Mindi has been such a valuable asset in her years at Purdy,” Schallert said. “I know she is going ‘home’ to Cassville, but in our eyes, she will always be an Eagle.”

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