Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark T. Bedell, Ed.D. is a talented, caring teacher and administrator and one of the top urban public-school leaders in the United States. As the child of a working-class family in upstate New York, he overcame significant challenges and was inspired to take his education seriously by teachers and other caring adults who pushed him to achieve his dreams. Dr. Bedell was a multi-talented youth who leveraged his basketball skills and grades into an opportunity to study at Fisk University, where he excelled in the honors program and became one of the nation's leading scorers in NCAA Division III. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1997. He went on to earn a Master of Education degree in educational leadership and administration from Tennessee State University in 2000.
While serving as a principal in places like Houston, his observation of students struggling to stay in school due to lack of wrap-around support prompted Dr. Bedell to study school culture, climate and dropout prevention at Nova Southeastern University, where he was named a Doctor of Education in 2015. Success as a School Improvement Officer in Houston Independent School District garnered the attention of Baltimore County Public Schools, where Dr. Bedell served as Assistant Superintendent for High Schools from 2012 to 2016. During his tenure, Dr. Bedell helped stem the hemorrhaging of dropouts and the BCPS graduation rate approached 90 percent. His educational experience and leadership made Dr. Bedell a natural choice for the Superintendent's post at KCPS in 2016.
With guidance from students, parents, staff, and partners, Dr. Bedell crafted and enacted a five-year strategic plan which placed student achievement at the center of the school system’s work, made the central office more effective and efficient, improved School Board governance, and increased staff skills and morale. He has forged innovative partnerships with Sprint and the Consulate of Mexico on behalf of students and families. Dr. Bedell has developed a mentorship program to match caring adults with about 8,000 deserving students. In partnership with Metropolitan Community College and the Full Employment Council of Greater Kansas City, he led the effort to launch a Middle College Program to give 17- to 24-year-olds who never finished school an opportunity to earn a high school diploma and enter college.
In June 2018, Dr. Bedell and the KCPS School Board created an innovative Equity Policy to direct the school system’s resources and programs so that every student has the opportunity to reach his or her greatest potential. Dr. Bedell has received many recognitions, including being named a “Superintendent to Watch” by the National School Public Relations Association and a “New Superintendent of the Year” by the Missouri Association of School Administrators. He was one of only 51 people selected to participate in the "Missouri Influencer Series" by The Kansas City Star; has been named to 435 Magazine’s Top 50 Power List as one of the most powerful people to shape the Kansas City region, and has been a keynote speaker at the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE) national conference.
In fact, Dr. Bedell's success at KCPS has led to numerous speaking engagements at events and conferences across the nation, while also serving on national boards. He has written several articles and opinion pieces for newspapers, magazines and journals. For Dr. Bedell, one of his most important honors came in the spring of 2018 when students from Southeast High School gave him an award of appreciation for his efforts on their behalf and for the positive impact he will have on future students. Dr. Bedell and his family have made Kansas City, MO their home; his wife is a local attorney in the community and their three children attend KCPS schools.