New superintendent’s experiences include improving student achievement and building community
Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, currently Hickman Mills School District superintendent, will serve as the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s 2017-18 superintendent, according to a Jan. 9 announcement by the Board of Education. Board members and Dr. Carpenter are finalizing the new superintendent’s contract and expect to approve it by the Jan. 19 Board of Education meeting.
“We are fortunate to have a leader of Dr. Carpenter’s caliber, experience and integrity joining our school district,” said Bob White, Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education president. “He has a solid record in improving student achievement as well as extensive experience in strategic planning and facilities and budget management.”
Dr. Carpenter has served as superintendent of the Hickman Mills School District since 2013 and previously served as deputy superintendent of operations and the associate superintendent for human resources for Newton County Schools in Covington, Ga. An award-winning district, Newton County Schools includes approximately 20,000 students in a growing community southeast of Atlanta. In addition, he has worked as an assistant superintendent for support services in Baxley, Ga.; and as an elementary school principal and middle school assistant principal, both in Georgia school districts. He has nearly 21 years of experience in public education.
“We believe we have found the perfect fit for Lee’s Summit R-7,” Mr. White said. “Our Board of Education was especially impressed with Dr. Carpenter’s extensive experience in instructional leadership, student success, fiscal management, operations and school renovation/construction.”
Under Dr. Carpenter’s leadership, Hickman Mills School District has made significant improvements in areas such as student attendance, graduation rates and ACT composite average scores. The district’s annual performance report increased by 18.9 percent in 2014, the largest increase of any K-12 urban or suburban school district in Missouri during that year.
Additional accomplishments in Hickman Mills under his tenure have included implementation of full-day pre-kindergarten for all district 4-year-olds, school renovation projects, a successful community-wide strategic planning effort, successful passage of a 19 million dollar bond issuance, and a substantial increase in the district foundation’s fundraising efforts.
"I am both humbled and honored to be selected by the Lee’s Summit Board of Education to serve as superintendent of a district with such a rich history of academic and extracurricular excellence,” Dr. Carpenter said. “I trust that my commitment to student-centered, inclusive leadership will assist in furthering the district’s commitment to an equitable educational experience for all students.”
Dr. Carpenter will begin his new job in Lee’s Summit R-7 on July 1. Dr. Dave Benson, who is serving as interim superintendent from Sept. 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017, will be working with Dr. Carpenter to ensure a successful transition.
The Board of Education began its search for a permanent superintendent in summer 2016 and has worked with BWP and Associates. The search process emphasized community involvement with more than 750 staff members and citizens participating in focus groups and an online survey. During the survey and focus groups, participants were asked to help identify critical attributes for the district’s next superintendent.
“We have been grateful for the involvement and support of our community during this search process,” Mr. White added, “and believe this feedback and support helped us select an outstanding leader for our schools.”
Darrell Curls, president of the Hickman Mills Board of Education, shared his Board members’ thoughts regarding the announcement. “As a Board we want to congratulate Dr. Carpenter on his plans to take the next step in his career. We are grateful to Dr. Carpenter for his four years of service to our district and its children. We have made significant progress under his leadership. Lee’s Summit is the recipient of a great leader who cares about all children.”
Dr. Carpenter earned his bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Georgia Southern University, his master’s degree in educational leadership from Augusta State University, an education specialist degree and a doctorate degree in educational leadership and educational administration, both from Georgia Southern University. Georgia Southern University is a land grant college located in Statesboro, Ga., and part of the University System of Georgia. The university is classified as a doctoral and research university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and has been recognized as a top undergraduate and graduate university by both U.S. News and World Report and Forbes magazine. Augusta State University, located in Augusta, Ga., is also part of the University System of Georgia. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
He has received the South Kansas City Alliance Innovative Educational Program Award, received the Friend of the Council for Exceptional Children Award, was named Phi Beta Sigma Educator of the Year in Savannah, Ga., and was named an Emerging Leader by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
In addition, Dr. Carpenter has been a presenter at numerous state and national educational conferences on topics such as STEM education, student achievement, racial equity, professional development and parent/community involvement. Dr. Carpenter is married to Dr. LaQuanda Carpenter, and they have two children, Landen Drake and Layla Dee.
The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is recognized as one of the top educational systems in this region. The district has grown steadily throughout its history with current enrollment at 17,927 students. The district employs 2,652 staff members. The 117-square-mile district includes the cities of Lee’s Summit, Greenwood, Lake Lotawana and Lake Winnebago as well as unincorporated areas of Jackson County. The district’s mission is “We prepare each student for success in life.”