The Ladue School Board has narrowed the field of candidates for the position of Superintendent of the district to three:
- Dr. Fred Czerwonka, Superintendent, West Plains (MO) School District
- Dr. Donna Jahnke, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Ladue School District
- Dr. Jonathan Lamberson, Superintendent, Riverside School District 96, Riverside, IL
This field includes a superintendent from an in-state district (Dr. Czerwonka from West Plains); a candidate from an Illinois district (Dr. Lamberson from Riverside) and a candidate already working in the district (Dr. Jahnke, who has worked for Ladue for 22 years).
Here's a brief profile of the final three candidates:
Dr. Fred Czerwonka, West Plains
Dr. Czerwonka has 13 years in adminstration and 21 years in education overall. He is in his 10th year with the West Plains district, fifth as chief executive officer. West Plains, a community of 12,000 is located due south of Rolla, MO.
Born in Houston, TX, he holds a bachelors degree from Freed-Hardman University, a masters from the same school, and holds a doctorate in education from Saint Louis University and leadership training from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Czerwonka is affiliated with numerous professional education organizations including the Missouri Association of School Board Administators, Missouri Association of School Business Officials, National Association of Secondary Principals (former member) and others.
Czerwonka addressed why he thinks relationships with students are so important.
"Although it may be perceived as cliché, my answer to this question is, without a doubt, the students. My first step will be to build relationships with all stakeholders to communicate that children are priority one.
"I firmly believe that you must listen your way to solutions. I will listen to “Ladue." Forging a relationship with the community will form the essential steps to maintain Ladue’s reputation as one of the top districts in Missouri."
Dr. Donna Jahnke, Ladue School District
Dr. Jahnke is serving Ladue as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Her area of expertise is both curriculum design and educational leadership, holding this position since 2008.
She holds both a Doctor of Philosophy and a Ph.D in Education Administration from Saint Louis University. She has been employed by Ladue for 22 years. She started as principal at Reed School and served as Director of Community Services including running the Ladue Early Childhood Center (LEEC).
Dr. Jahnke developed the first STEM initiative resulting in robotics instruction for students K-12. She won Missouri Distinguished Principals awards in 2007 and 2008.
This is what she told Patch this week. "I am very excited about moving to the next step in the process. I have a strong commitment to the school district and would be honored to lead Ladue forward as superintendent."
Dr. Jon Lamberson, Riverside, IL District 96
Similar in size to Ladue, Riverside has five district schools. Riverside district has evolved from a district of 90 percent white students to one that is today 60 percent white, and 30 percent Latino.
Dr. Lamberson has been in the top leadership position at Riverside since 2005. From 2000-05, he was superintendent of the Lake Forest (Il) School District. Prior to that, he held positions in the Chicago area at Barrington Township, New Trier (Winnetka, Il); Altoona, WI, Downers Grove (Il) and his first position with the Summit Hill school District in Franfort (Southern Illinois).
One year ago, Dr. Lamberson was a finalist for superintendent for the West St. Paul Mendota Heights-Eagan School District in Minnesota. He spoke to the local Mendota Heights Patch concerning his budgetary philosphy.
Paraphrasing from that text, he said: "I do not like surprises in finances, and will under estimate revenues and over estimate expenditures while trying to anticipate variables such as the state legislature and enrollment even many years in advance."
Dr. Lamberson respectfully declined to answer questions from Patch.com.
The Ladue School Board is expected to announce to the public their selection for superintendent at the next regularly-scheduled board meeting February 25.