GOKey Communicators

Communicating the Needs of our Students

The goal of GOKey Communicators is to create a network of local community members, retired teachers, current teachers and preservice teachers who regularly communicate with regional legislators about the effects of proposed legislation on their local school districts. Some legislators may have a negative perception of school leaders, which results in the needs of students going unheard. The assumption is that legislators are likely more willing to discuss these concerns with community members versus school superintendents and administrators.

For those Members who wish to participate, GOCSD organizes free training and on-going support. This program is one component of GOCSD's Public Education Proud Initiative.

Participating in GOKey Communicators

  1. School Leaders identify potential candidates to serve as GOKey Communicators, share this webpage with them, and encourage them to register.

  2. School Leaders register themselves in order to get the link to join the virtual sessions and to be included in all communications.

If you are a school leader, educator or a community member invited by a school leader, please use the button below to register if you wish to participate. If you served as a GOKey Communicator in the Spring of 2022 and wish to serve again this school year, you will need to register.

3 Training Components

Enlighten our Policymakers

  • November 10th

  • 4:30-6:30 PM

  • Virtual

  • Free for Members

As the new legislative session begins in January, it is important to be apprised of statewide and regional Legislator’s current perception of Public Education. There is a need to build relationships with legislators, and to find ways to communicate even when there may be some disagreement.

One of southwest Missouri’s strongest Public Education advocates is State Senator Karla Eslinger. She will share some examples for how we can best communicate with state policymakers. She will share insight for what she believes will be the focus for the legislative session.

Jason Dial, a founding member of GOCSD and current Missouri Association for School Administrator’s Public Education Lobbyist, will share some of legislative bills that have been pre-filed and the potential impact of these on public education.

Dr. Sarah Booth Riss, Director of the Missouri Superintendents Academy, will discuss various ways to connect and build relationships with legislators.

Spring Check-ins

  • Bimonthly meetings March - May on Tuesdays (exact dates coming soon)

  • 4:30-5 PM

  • Virtual

  • Free for Members

To provide ongoing support for these public education advocates, the group will touch base virtually for 30 minutes, bimonthly, starting in March. During these visits participants will be invited to share their experiences, discuss concerns or challenges that they need help addressing, and be provided with updates around key pertinent legislative issues.

Facilitators: Dr. Jason Dial and Dr. Pam Hedgpeth

Jefferson City Field Trips

At various times during the legislative session, participants will have opportunities to travel to Jefferson City with a group to meet with legislators in person.

If you are a school leader, educator or a community member invited by a school leader, please use the button below to register if you wish to participate. If you served as a GOKey Communicator in the Spring of 2022 and wish to serve again this school year, you will need to register.

Guest Experts

Karla Eslinger

Karla Eslinger

Missouri State Senator, Republican, District 33

Senator Karla Eslinger is a lifelong educator with more than 30 years of experience in a variety of educational settings. She most recently served as a senior analyst for education services with the AEM Corporation and provided technical assistance to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Previously, she served as an assistant commissioner of education for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She began her career as an elementary school teacher and went on to work as a building principal and a superintendent of schools in Ava and West Plains.

A graduate of Gainesville High School, Sen. Eslinger holds a bachelor degree in elementary education from The College of the Ozarks. She also earned a master’s degree in education administration and a specialist degree in superintendency and educational system administration from Missouri State University. Senator Eslinger received her doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Prior to her election to the Missouri Senate in 2020, Sen. Eslinger represented District 155 in the Missouri House of Representatives from 2019 through 2020.

Senator Eslinger is a long-term resident of Wasola, where she and her husband David reside on the family farm. They have also owned and operated a small business for over 35 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.

Dr. Jason Dial

Dr. Jason Dial

Public Education Lobbyist for the Missouri Association of School Administrators
Public Sector Consultant, Trane Technologies
Founding Member of GOCSD

Dr. Jason Dial served students of Missouri for 28 years as a teacher/coach, building administrator, assistant superintendent and Superintendent of Schools in small rural schools to large urban districts across the state. Dr. Dial has represented public schools in the Capitol since 2009 working with legislators on behalf of the students and teachers in Missouri. Those efforts have resulted in passing legislation that benefit schools across the state as well as preventing legislation that would have been harmful to our public schools. Dr. Dial is retired but continues his passion for Missouri Students by serving as an assistant lobbyist for the Missouri Association of School Administrators in Southwest Missouri.

Sarah Booth Riss

Dr. Sarah Booth Riss

Dr. Sarah Booth Riss

Director of the Missouri Superintendents Academy and facilitator of the Women in Leadership Initiative for MASA

Dr. Sarah Booth Riss is the Director of the Missouri Superintendents Academy and facilitator of the Women in Leadership Initiative for MASA. She is also a senior associate with Educational Equity Consultants providing diversity, equity, and inclusion learning experiences for school districts and other organizations. Dr. Riss has extensive experience as a classroom teacher, principal, central office administrator, superintendent, adjunct college professor, educational consultant and member of statewide committees focused on improving educational policy. She is retired as the superintendent for the Webster Groves School District. Sarah is committed to fostering a learning community that assists educators in their professional growth and their success as school leaders.

Dr. Pam Hedgpeth

Dr. Pam Hedgpeth

Executive Director, GOCSD

Dr. Pam Hedgpeth has a passion for education and has focused on training and supporting school leaders since her retirement from PK-12 public education. She loved her work as a twenty-eight-year public school educator and sees her current work as Executive Director of GOCSD a way to “give back” to a profession she loves.

She is a former superintendent of the Republic R-III Schools and prior to this position she held the titles of assistant superintendent, elementary principal and elementary teacher. Dr. Hedgpeth serves on staff at the National Center for Education and the Economy and engages in international research that focuses on a system approach for designing high performing education entities. Through this role she works with and supports school leaders across the nation in designing world class educational systems.

She was an integral part in developing the educational leadership doctorate program at Southwest Baptist University. She has served on several statewide committees for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She was also a former President of the Southwest Missouri Superintendent’s Association, founding member of the Republic Community Foundation, former member of Springfield’s Mayor’s Commission on Children, Greene County Library Foundation Board, Missouri Methodist Foundation Board and Ozark Empire Fair Foundation Board. Pam lives in Clever, Missouri on a farm with her husband Kent (a coach and former teacher). They have two daughters Josey McPhail and Molly Eulinger, both who are Missouri educators.

Public Education Proud Initiative

To advocate for Public Education at the local, state and national levels, GOCSD is providing members many opportunities to showcase what it means to be Public Education Proud (PEP). The Public Education Proud efforts includes: Teacher Proud Campaign, Shine a Light Series, GOKey Communicators Program, and the Public School Proud Bulletin.

Teacher Proud

Shine a Light Series

GOKey Communicators

Public School Proud Bulletin

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