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Dr. Chappelow Retires: Six Ladue Superintendents Since 1939

The head of the Ladue School district announced her retirement, effective at the end of June.

The Ladue School District had its modest beginnings, starting in 1939. At that time, the district was simply a loosely formed group of elementary schools, those being Little Ladue (now Reed School), Conway Elementary, Wright School, Price School, Central School and later Spoede Elementary.

Children past elementary school age pretty much had to fend for themselves, attending the private schools serving the community: Mary Institute, Country Day School, John Burroughs and Chaminade or attending one of the nearby public high schools: Clayton, University City, Kirkwood, Brentwood or Maplewood.

It was not until 1951 that this growing community first offered classroom education to students Kindergarten through the 12th grade. Ladue Horton Watkins High School graduated its first class in 1953.

Six superintendents since 1939

During that span, six superintendents have run the district. Two of those superintendents: Dr. Ivan C. Nicholas (1942-1971) and Dr. Charles D. McKenna (1971-2000) had the longest tenures (58 years combined).

The district has steadily grown from a handful of grade school students to one with a combined enrollment of 4,000 students. During that period, the numbers have gone up and down somewhat. A housing boom in the 1950s called for small neighborhood elementary schools in Olivette: Hilltop, Dielman, Grandview and Central (all closed today). Currently, the Old Bonhomme School primarily serves the Olivette students.

Current superintendent Dr. Marsha Chappelow (2009-present) announced her retirement at the regular Ladue School Board meeting Monday night (Sept. 24). She did this in accordance with her contract. Like most Missouri superintendents, Dr. Chappelow was employed on a three-year contract. If she was to retire this year, she needed to notify the school board by October 1 of her intentions. The current contract was extended to the 2014-15 school year.

She enjoyed the opportunity to run Ladue schools greatly. “It has been my privilege to serve in public education for many years. As a classroom teacher, and as an administrator, I have had the opportunity to work with outstanding educators, parents and students throughout my career. I look forward to new learning opportunities, but also look forward to more time and flexibility to enjoy my expanding family,” she said.

She has a new grandson in Kansas City and will relocate there to be near her children Josh, Jason and Jessica.

Nine years with the district

Dr. Chappelow arrived in Ladue nine years ago, working with the new superintendent Dr. David Benson who took over for Dr. Stewart Weinberg in 2004.

Both came from the Blue Valley Schools in Overland Park,KS where she was Superintendent of Communication Services for that district.

Over the years, Dr. Chappelow made her mark in public school communications. She was past president of the National School Public Relations Association and traveled extensively on their behalf.

Dr. Chappelow will leave behind an indelible mark on the Ladue School District. On her watch, the district passed a $29.97 million bond issue for expand schools and technology in 2007; the 2010 $32 million bond issue to purchase Westminster Christian Academy  property on Ladue Road and supervised the construction of the New $18 million dollar Ladue Early Childhood Center on that campus and the 2012 49 cent tax increase to meet current district obligations.

Ladue will now conduct a national search for Dr. Chappelow’s replacement.

Ladue’s history of superintendents

Dr. Millard Bell, 1939-1942
Dr. Ivan C. Nicholas, 1942-1971
Dr. Charles D. McKenna, 1971-2000
Dr. Stewart M. Weinberg, 2000-2004
Dr. David L. Benson, 2004-2009
Dr. Marsha Chappelow, 2009-present

Tomorrow, Dr. Chappelow answers three key questions posed by Patch.com.

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