Ray Smith, Missouri NEA Uniserv Director (and former Springfield Public Schools NEA President) and I had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Ridder on Tuesday, July 28th. After the first 5 minutes I could tell Dr. Ridder has dived into this position with a gusto that I haven't seen in education for some time. I also noted that he knows a little something about what teachers need, support. He made it clear to both Ray and I that our teachers NEED to be supported by our administrators. As a little back ground knowledge, Dr. Ridder and Ray Smith worked together on the first Springfield NEA teacher contract/negotiated agreement back in 2010. With that background, Dr. Ridder wanted our teachers, counselors, and librarians to know that he is ready to begin the work on an contract that will help our students learning conditions, by supporting teacher's working conditions.
We only had a small amount of time with our new superintendent, however, he hit the nail on the head when he said that he could see the "fatigue" in our district, and he wants to "re-energize" our staff. WOW! Nailed it. His excitement to see all of our teachers succeed and be the best educators they can be is so refreshing. He wants our input. He has said many times he will be coming to us to be a part of a Teacher Forum. It will be 25 teachers and he wants to hear about our district.
In closing our meeting time I asked Dr. Ridder what he wanted me to share with teachers. He said he we will be working on an agreement/contract quickly. He wants teachers to be a part of his Teacher Forum. He has given out his cell phone number and email- use it. He wants educators, community members, parents to call him and give him feedback. And final, his goal is to see our teacher talent, he plans to be in every teacher's classroom by October. He is ready to meet the professional educators in Joplin and make changes that will empower teachers.
I would like to ask all of our teachers to attend the reception to be held next week, at the Memorial Education Center (Admin), Monday, August 3rd 4:00pm. This will be a good time to come and meet our new superintendent. I hope to see many faces there.