KCPS superintendent Mark Bedell overcame challenges, including his mom dying of an overdose
Playing pickup basketball in the community may have helped gain Kansas City Public School Superintendent Mark Bedell some national attention.
The National School Public Relations Association announced Wednesday that Bedell is a “Superintendent to Watch,” specifically for his ability to communicate and engage with students, parents, staff and community members.
The national group recognizes superintendents with fewer than five years of experience who “possess dynamic, fast-paced leadership with strong communication at its core,” according to the association’s website. Bedell was one of 21 superintendents across the country selected, and the only one in Missouri or Kansas for the 2017-2018 academic year.
“This recognition would not be possible without a strong communications team,” Bedell said in a statement. “As superintendent it is my job to provide the big ideas around how to reach the community at large, but those ideas have to be executed by the experts in that department....”
Bedell, like many students in Kansas City district schools, grew up in an tough urban environment and came from humble beginnings.
He came to Kansas City in 2016 on a promise to get out into the community, relate openly and honestly to students and communicate better with parents. He promised the creation of a one-to-one mentoring program that would require every district employee to mentor at least one child in the schools.
Bedell made communications and community engagement a cornerstone of his administration. He started his first 100 days in Kansas City with a listening and learning tour, regular lunches and town hall meetings with students and staff and weekend pickup basketball games with students and others.
“In a letter of support for the “Superintendent to Watch,” nominations Head of the Consulate of Mexico in Kansas City, Alfonso Narvarro-Bernachi, mentioned Bedell’s outspoken support of immigrant families.
“Under his leadership Kansas City Public Schools has shown remarkable adaptability in its communication goals and strategies for responding to parents’ and students’ social and emotional needs,” Narvarro-Bernachi said.