Dr. Gretchen Shull
Four candidates vying for two open Webb City R-7 School Board seats
Voters on April 6 can mark their ballots for two
Choosing which of the four candidates will fill two open seats on the Webb City R-7 School Board is the main reason to vote Tuesday.
Incumbents Lisa (Hartman) Robinson and Jason Woodmansee are both seeking their fifth three-year term. Also filing for their seats are Grant T. Collings and Dr. Gretchen Shull.
The Webb City Community Teachers Association hosted a forum Monday for the candidates to introduce themselves and answer questions from the audience.
The candidates have several things in common. They all:
- Graduated from Webb City High School.
- See serving on the board as a way to give back to the community.
- Say they are not motivated by a specific issue or have a personal agenda.
- Agree individual complaints should go up the chain of command – from teacher to principal to administration, before addressing the entire school board. As Robinson said, “Things don’t come directly to us. We are overseers.”
Topics discussed based on questions included:
Robinson said she wants to get all students to graduation by keeping the graduation “as high as we possibly can.” Commencement is her “ultimate favorite” night, she said.
Woodmansee talked about the importance of hiring and maintaining great teachers to make “kids flourish.” To do that, he said the school board should keep Webb City as the top-paying district in the area.
Collings said it’s important to help students with the “unwritten curriculum” of school, including relationships with fellow students and adults.
Shull, agreeing with the need to hire and keep good teachers, said she would promote their continued professional development.
EFFICIENT USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS
Woodmansee said he is proud of the district’s construction projects, including last summer’s remodeling of the entrance to the high school, which improved security as well as office organization, and the junior high cafeteria expansion to address rising enrollment. He also mentioned matching FEMA grants to build tornado shelters at every campus. “We’ve been able to do a lot,” he said.
Collings added that money for equipment to enhance student learning are well-spent dollars.
Shull suggested more emphasis on understanding and promoting the health and wellness of children.
Robinson said improved curriculum has been a benefit, as well the hiring of instructional coaches.
PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PRIVATE SCHOOLS
Collings said he is against using taxpayer dollars for private school vouchers. “Keep tax dollars in our school district,” he said.
Shull said she and her husband chose to return here “intentionally because of the public school system we believe in.” Yet, she said the school board needs to “correct what makes us nervous about competition” from private and charter schools.
Robinson said she calls legislators when the issue comes up about “giving our tax dollars to private, religious and charter schools. I believe we do a better job of spending taxpayer dollars.”
Woodmansee added that he has two relatives with special needs in the R-7 system, noting that private schools do not accept students with special needs.
PROGRAM ADDITIONS OR IMPROVEMENTS
Shull said she would start STEM (science, technoloty, engineering and mathematics) programs in younger grades and identify individual literacy.
Robinson said she would expand the grants given to teachers applying to fund their innovative ideas.
Woodmansee suggested improvements can be made in technology training and the Spanish language program.
Collings said he would like to see more vocational technology opportunities.
MASKS REQUIRED IN THE FALL
Shull said whether students and staff will wear masks when returning in August will depend on the CDC guidelines and “where we stand in the community” with coronavirus infections.
Robinson said as a board, we’ll do “whatever it takes (including masks) for our kids to be in class, being educated by our staff.
Woodmansee said he’s proud of the district’s Cardinal Comeback Plan, which has allowed in-person learning with a virtual option. “I’m all in favor of doing away with masks, but we have to wait” for the CDC guidelines.
Collings said it’s important that the schools reopen safely, by relying on recommendations from the county health department and CDC.
No other races in immediate area
In our immediate area, there are no other instances on April 6 in which the candidates on the ballot are opposed.
Dr. Gretchen Shull
The following are profiles provided by the candidates to the WCCTA prior to the forum: (Candidates are listed in ballot order.)
Lisa (Hartman) Robinson
Lisa (Hartman) Robinson was born in Webb City and graduated as valedictorian of the WCHS Class of 1985. She earned degrees from Missouri Southern State University (accounting 1989) and Louisiana Tech University (MBA 1990). She holds Certified Public Accountant, Economic Development Finance Professional and Certified Global Business Professional certifications. She has worked for MSSU with the Missouri Small Business Development Center for 28 years. She is director of the SBDC and is an instructor of accounting and finance entrepreneurship courses. She is married to Danny (1995) and they have three children.
Lisa has volunteered for school PTO activities, coached for youth sports, and has been a youth sponsor for church activities. She was urged by a mentor to run for the Webb City R-7 School Board in 2009. She has prioritized attending board meeting and board activities with attendance of over 90%. Her favorite events of the school year are high school graduation, Teachers Administration and Board Committee meetings and the data presentations from each school on testing scores and interventions to increase student learning.
Lisa is honored to serve her hometown. She was integral in the adoption of the program which is now Webb City CARES and suggested that the district create a grant writer position. She believes both have enhanced the ability of the district to work with outside partners to create new learning opportunities and support for students. She looks forward to serving the district if re-elected on April 6.
I am a 12-year member of the school board, and a 44-year citizen of this community. I graduated from WCHS in 1994 and MSSU in 1998.
I am married to Jenny Woodmansee, a teacher at Eugene Field Elementary School. We have two children in the district. Matt is a senior and Drew is in the eighth grade.
I work as a division safety and health manager for a large company. I support 20 locations across the U.S. in their efforts to keep employees safe.
In my free time, I enjoy golfing, duck hunting and fishing. But most of all I enjoy spending my free time coaching youth sports and throwing a ball around with my kids.
I’m Grant Collings. I graduated from WCHS in 2005 and went on to complete both a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hawai’i and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.
I participated in several extracurricular activities and clubs during high school. During college I worked several summers as a camp counselor in Upstate New York for students with learning disorders. I was on a band scholarship at the University of Hawai’i and worked as an RA in the dorms. I also worked side jobs on two research projects. One was for the math department researching autonomous submarines and the other was a project for the psychology department.
Druing graduate school I was able to obtain experience working at Brighton Hospital, now called Brighton Center for Recovery. After graduate school I began my social work career with Ozark Center and have been employed there nine years. In partnership with Economic Security Corp. I worked with Missouri Housing and Development Commission and FEMA to help individuals in the Temporary Housing Units find permanent housing after the Joplin 2011 tornado. Currently, I am a member of Ozark Center’s eating disorder treatment team, Reconnect. I am Level 1 Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy trained and I supervise new social workers and provide field education to social work students. To relax I like to play video games, watch movies, cook out, hang out with my friends and dogs.
Dr. Gretchen Shull
Gretchen is a native to Webb City and has always loved this community. She gratuated as valedictorian and student athlete of WCHS in 1995. She stayed close her first four years of college, graduating summa cum laude from the MSSU Honors Program. After medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia and an internal medicine residency followed by a a fellowiship in endrocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Kansas, she returned home to serve her community.
She has been an endocrinologist, physician and doctor at Mercy Joplin for 12 years now and the vice president of diabetes care for Mercy’s entire ministry (spanning Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas) for three years. She is also the CEO and president of Contego Research Inc., a ballistics research lab. In 2020 she was inducted into the Webb City R-7 School District Hall of Fame.
Gretchen is married to Jonathan, also a Webb City graduate and current Webb City Council member. Their children are sixth generation Webb Citians.
She would be honored to use her experience and fresh perspective to help Webb City students, faculty and staff excel. For further information, please review her website at www.gretchenshull.com.