- Featured Stories
- Douglas County
- City of Ava
- General Interest
By Whitney Keith
Dr. Brian Wilson took over as superintendent this month, and is starting to get settled in and learn the ropes.
He said that he was drawn to Ava due to its location and the community.
“The community has a genuine care and concern about the school and the kids,” Wilson said. “It doesn’t matter where you go, whether it’s the Squires Fourth of July thing or going to eat downtown, it’s always a really warm welcome when you say you’re from the school.”
Wilson has been working on learning the district and the job descriptions for every employee in the district.
“And putting names with faces, that’s a big one right there,” he said.
Wilson is taking over for Dr. Andy Underwood, who accepted a position as superintendent in a school district near Kansas City.
Wilson said that his experience was a big selling point when he interviewed for the position.
“As far as budgetary-wise, and in this economy, knowing what’s coming around the corner,” he said.
He said that his biggest concern is the children in the district.
“That’s my stance,” Wilson said. “We’re going to try to do things in an economical fashion, but we’re going to keep kids in the forefront and I think that is really important.”
Wilson was raised in Clever, Mo. and graduated from the Clever school district, one of 29 students in his graduating class.
“That’s part of what drew me to this community,” he said. “Clever was very similar to Ava when I grew up there, before the urban sprawl hit it.”
After high school, Wilson attended Missouri State University (then Southwest Missouri State University) and majored in agricultural education.
After teaching in an interim position at Clever for physical education and junior high history, he was hired by the Fordland R-III School District to teach agricultural education.
“They had never had the program before,” Wilson said.
That first year, the agriculture program had 20-30 kids, which doubled by the next year.
Wilson taught in that position for five years before becoming the high school principal at Fordland.
“One of the goals was to pull that building together and become an A+ school, which we did,” Wilson said.
The building also was only provisionally accredited at that time due to low state testing scores, which were improved under Wilson’s reign.
“That wasn’t all on my shoulders,” Wilson said. “I worked with some fabulous people who put in a lot of hours.”
Wilson has been the superintendent at Fordland for the past four years.
After spending nearly his entire career at one district, Wilson said that many factors led to his decision to come to Ava.
“You never want to be stagnate as an educator,” he said. “You want to continue to grow, and this gives me an opportunity to do that and hopefully use the skills that I’ve been given.”
He said that his roots have always been in southwest Missouri, and that location was a big factor in his decision to come to Ava.
His wife spent 14 years teaching in Branson before taking a position to teach in Sparta this year.
“It’s kind of ironic how things happened,” Wilson said. “She had taken a job at Sparta to teach second grade a few months before this job came open.”
Wilson said he believes that the two biggest challenges facing the R-I district are the economy and student performance.
“You have to be pretty frugal with some of your spending,” Wilson said. “Your spending has to go down, but student performance is expected to increase by federal and state mandates.
“That’s the big challenge.”
Wilson said that he believes the district currently has several good programs geared toward improving student performance.
“I want to look at each of the programs and see how they are being utilized before making any changes,” he said. “What I’ve seen so far, I really like.”
He commented that many teachers had stopped by the administrative office to ask if test scores were in yet.
“That tells you that they really care about kids and care about student performance,” Wilson said.
Wilson has been married seven years.
He and his wife have a 3 year old daughter.
In his spare time, he enjoys working on the family farm with his father.
“On the weekends, that’s what I like to do to get away from work,” Wilson said. “Spending time with my father is priceless.
“You can’t ever get that time back.”