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Norm Ridder is the superindendent of school for Springfield Public Schools. KSMU's Missy Shelton talks with him about his background, his leadership philosophy and the vision he has for the district.
A little more than one year ago, Norm Ridder came to Springfield when he was offered the position of Superintendent of Schools.
He and his wife Nadine say it's been a good fit.
Norm Ridder says his philosophy and style of leadership seem to be a good match for Springfield Public Schools, even though it's meant initiating changes in the district.
His high school years at Mount Michael with teachers like Father Benedict Doyle followed years spent growing up on the family farm and attending a rural school.
At that point, Ridder says he envisioned himself becoming a priest.
But those plans changed.
Even though his career path changed, Ridder says many of the early influences on his life continued to play an important role.
Ridder's list of community activities is a long one: He's a board member for Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, the YMCA, the Discovery Center, Campus Ministry, just to name a few.
Ridder says he has embraced the concept of community engagement and participation.
He says this was especially important when he worked with troubled youth as Director of Education at Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska.
In describing his leadership style, Ridder says it's been consistent no matter where he's worked.
He says he seeks to serve others and help young people have that same attitude.
Reinforcing the importance of service and empowering teachers and students has meant a change in attitude for the school district.
Ridder says it's taken some time for teachers to adjust.
Join me this afternoon for more of my conversation with Springfield Superintendent Norm Ridder.
This and other programs in our Sense of Community series are online at KSMU dot org.