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Dr. Pam Hedgpeth

Executive Director

Dr. Pam Hedgpeth has a passion for education and has focused on training and supporting school leaders and helping districts build a systems approach for improving learning 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 Greater Ozarks Cooperating School Districts (GOCSD) and Facilitator for Missouri’s Success-Ready Student (SRSN) Network as 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. During her tenure at Republic, she focused on building a positive culture where teacher collaboration and stakeholder engagement were high priorities. Student performance improved by 20 percent under her leadership. Dr. Hedgpeth served on staff at the National Center for Education and the Economy where both national and international research provided the framework for taking a system’s approach for improving learning. Through this role, she worked with and supported school leaders across the nation in designing world-class educational systems. She was also an integral part in developing the educational leadership doctorate program at Southwest Baptist University.

In her role as Executive Director for Greater Ozarks Cooperating School Districts (GOCSD), Dr. Hedgpeth leads efforts for providing personalized professional learning opportunities for over 100 school districts in southwest and southeast Missouri. As part of her work with GOCSD, she also has led advocacy efforts through the Teacher Proud campaign. On the second Tuesday of every month, teachers across Missouri are celebrated for the great work they do.

As one of the founding facilitators of the Success-Ready Students Network (SRSN), Dr. Hedgpeth is helping to lead efforts in her state to reimagine and redesign an educational system where learning is at the center. The network includes close to 100 districts and 25 state and regional organizations. The network focuses on a personalized competency-based learning (PCBL) mindset and offers ongoing professional learning and support for all districts. The SRSN also leads the work of the System Design Zone, a group of innovative school districts who are redesigning and reimagining state assessment and accountability through the lens of PCBL. This group of districts was granted a state innovation waiver which provides a three-year window for their system design work. Additionally, the SDZ is working toward a federal waiver from the current assessment system.

Dr. Julie Flieg

SE Professional Learning Director/Assistant Director

Dr. Julie Flieg has served the entirety of her approximately 29-year educational career at Ste. Genevieve County R-II School District. Beginning as a student worker in the cafeteria and rounding out her five years as superintendent of schools, Dr. Flieg held a role in every corner of the district. She has served as a guidance secretary and registrar, a teacher’s aide for a special education classroom, a business teacher, class sponsor, club sponsor, assistant principal, a volleyball coach, athletic director, principal, and assistant superintendent before launching her role as superintendent in 2018. Her path through public education has given her a thorough understanding of how each person within the school system supports the success of each student. She has built relationships in all areas, in all departments, and held onto those relationships through the years. This holistic view fuels her passion for supporting faculty and staff at all levels through meaningful, accessible professional development so that they are empowered to help students learn, grow, and achieve success.

During her professional education career, Dr. Flieg served as president of the MAAA Superintendents Association. She has been a member of: the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA), the Missouri Association of School Business Officials (MoASBO), the School Superintendents Association (AASA), and the Southeast Missouri Superintendents Association. She also served as the Southeast Executive Board Member of the Missouri Assessment Partnership (MOAP) and on the Missouri Commissioner of Education’s Advisory Panel.

Dr. Debbie Yonke

Professional Learning Director

Dr. Debbie Yonke retired as the Director of Professional Learning and Instructional Support at Republic Schools. During her 30 year career in public education, she has served as a classroom teacher, instructional specialist, and curriculum director. Her professional goal is to empower and support educators so that they might equip their students for a successful future. She has been blessed to serve alongside many other amazing educators in the Republic, Willard and Springfield districts and collaborate with leaders and teachers throughout Missouri. She also has had the opportunity to collaborate with educators throughout the nation as a Cooperative Learning Trainer and also partner with non-profit organizations to train teachers in both Cambodia and Ethiopia. In her free time, Dr. Yonke enjoys spending time with her husband, Steve who is a retired educator, their 3 daughters and grandchildren.

Janetta Garton

Communications and Digital Learning Director

Janetta Garton has 31 years of experience in public education. She was a classroom teacher for 13 years, before serving in other roles that include: Technology Curriculum Director, Federal Programs Director, Digital Media Coordinator, and Coordinator of Instructional Innovation. She has a passion for learning and her expertise is in blended and virtual learning. She has years of experience in providing professional learning opportunities, planning and facilitating initiatives, serving as a system administrator for various digital platforms, and onboarding new teachers. She continues to serve the educational community as GOSCD’s Director of Communications and Digital Learning, and as an independent consultant.

Michelle Darby

Partnership Coordinator

Michelle Darby retired from the Bolivar R1 School District after a 26-year career in public education where she served as a business teacher, at-risk teacher/coordinator, school counselor, and administrator. Her professional experience includes leadership and program implementation of various types.  As a retiree of the district in which she grew up, she was recently inducted into the Bolivar High School Hall of Fame where she was acknowledged for her extensive contributions to the students, faculty/staff, and programs of the district. She also currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer of the organization Bolivar Educational Advancement Foundation (BEAF).  BEAF is a non-profit organization that benefits Bolivar R1 Schools and students.  Michelle’s passion is to give back by positively supporting our educators and students. She looks forward to building new and lasting relationships with our GOCSD partners!

Dr. Dennis Cooper

Executive Director Emeritus

After serving 6 years as the inaugural Executive Director of the Greater Ozarks Cooperating School Districts, Dr. Dennis Cooper will continue to serve GOCSD in an advisory capacity as Executive Director Emeritus. Dr. Cooper has 49 years experience in education. He served 25 years as a school superintendent as well as 12 years with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).