Growing up overseas with stays in West Africa, France and Toga gave newly appointed Liberty Public Schools Superintendent M. Jeremy Tucker an appreciation for various cultures.
Learning about the Liberty schools’ culture will be his mission when he assumes his new role on July 1. Tucker, the superintendent of the Logan-Rogersville R-VIII School District near Springfield, Mo., since 2008, was one of 27 applicants for the Liberty position.
“My early years overseas provided me with a unique perspective and tremendous appreciation of cultures,” Tucker said. “Soon I will be learning about the Liberty culture.”
Big ticket items Tucker will face when taking over July 1 will include overseeing building projects at several existing schools and the fall opening of a new school, EPiC Elementary. He will also support a technology initiative that’s underway to bring laptops into all schools and lead professional development efforts.
“Integrating technology and providing teachers with necessary support will be one goal,” he said. “Another is providing structures within schools promoting teacher collaboration.”
Tucker, 38, said he was attracted to Liberty Public Schools because of the progressive direction of planned initiatives and the schools’ strong community support.
“It all starts with community support,” he said. “Liberty has systems in place to meet Liberty students’ needs now and in the future. The focus is in the right place.”
Tucker will replace John Jungmann, who recently was named superintendent of the Springfield, Mo. School District.
Scott Connor, president of the Liberty Public Schools Board of Education, said Tucker met the criteria set forth by the community through surveys, face-to-face meetings, small group meetings and a community forum.
“We came up with five general tenets and with Dr. Tucker we were able to check the boxes on all five,” Connor said. “It was a unanimous decision.”
Criteria for a new superintendent included a candidate with a doctorate, strong ethics and integrity, current work as a superintendent, a strong background in curriculum and instructional, and community involvement and commitment.
“We found Dr. Tucker to be soft-spoken yet a strong listener, relationship-builder and leader,” Connor said. He added that Tucker was identified as a man of “high character with a strong vision to build on the work taking place in Liberty schools.”
“Liberty has come a long way in the past four and a half years,” Connor said. “Dr. Jungmann turned the ship and got us moving in the right direction. Now we need to continue that momentum and move forward. We are confident Tucker can help us do that.”
Connor said Liberty faces the challenge of being one of the fastest-growing school districts in Missouri. “We are adding 300 students annually. However, our revenue stream is not keeping pace with our growth,” he said.
Liberty Public Schools “has a lot of work ahead,” Connor said, “but we’re confident Dr. Tucker will continue to build on what we’ve started.”
Tucker said that while his current school district has 2,300 students and Liberty has 12,000 students, they face similar challenges. “My initial goals will to become familiar with existing plans and initiatives, develop relationships and see how my leadership style fits in with the district,” he said.
Tucker described his leadership style as “very relational and collaborative. It’s not one person directing a school district but rather navigating and building consensus.”
Tucker was one of five candidates the board selected for interview in March. The top three candidates visited Liberty for day-long interviews with board members and district officials.
Joining Tucker in the Liberty Public Schools community will be his wife, Rebecca, and their two children.