The Office of the Superintendent
The superintendent is the top executive ("CEO") in Kansas City Public Schools. The superintendent implements the school board’s vision by making day-to-day decisions about educational programs, spending, staff, and facilities. The superintendent hires, supervises, and manages the central staff and principals. The position also must work with school leaders -- principals -- to serve the needs of students and meet the district goals.
The superintendent must also respond to the demands of all the other constituencies and interest groups in the district: teachers, students, parents, staff, advocates, and the community at large. She or he must consider how to use the financial and human resources of the district in order to achieve the best results. While being mindful of competing demands, a great superintendent will be guided by what is best for all students.
The Office of the Superintendent includes:
- KCPS Superintendent
- Executive Assistant to the Superintendent
- Director of Education Foundation
- Deputy Superintendent
- Chief Financial and Operations Officer
- Chief Human Resources Officer
- Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
- Chief Legal Officer
Dr. Mark T. Bedell joined Kansas City Public Schools as Superintendent on July 1st, 2016. Bedell previously served as the assistant superintendent for Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS).
Bedell credits his love of and success in basketball as a factor that motivated him to stay in school. After becoming ineligible to play once because of his grades, he swore to himself that he would never let it happen again and began attending summer and night school. He ended up making the honor roll, graduating with a 3.12 GPA, and being accepted at Fisk University. An honor roll student at Fisk, Bedell led the nation in scoring for Division III basketball. Bedell has presented at several national and state-level conferences on best practices in education and completed his doctoral dissertation at Nova Southeastern University on school culture, climate and dropout prevention for ethnic minority students from low economic strata. This topic is close to his heart as he has lived through and witnessed how students often drop out of school when there is no one to advocate for them. For BCPS, Bedell created a systematic approach to curtail dropouts in 2012. The BCPS graduation rate surged to 87.6 percent for the Class of 2014, up nearly four percentage points from 2012 -- leading to a 2014 District of Distinction Award from District Administration magazine. In addition, suspension rates at BCPS have decreased from 8.3 percent to 5 percent from 2012 to 2014 – a 54 percent decrease. Finally, the participation rate of juniors taking the SAT increased from 38.1 percent in 2012 to 87 percent in 2015 through the implementation of a countywide SAT Day in 2013.
Dr. Marla Sheppard - Deputy Superintendent
Marla Sheppard joined KCPS in 2017 as the Deputy Superintendent. Before coming to Kansas City, she was an Assistant Superintendent in Fort Bend ISD, where she was responsible for 16 schools (elementary, middle and high). After receiving her bachelor's degree in biomedical science from Texas A & M University, she began her career in the Houston Independent School District as a math and science teacher at the middle and high school levels. She joined the HISD Secondary Principalship Cohort in 2002. After completing her principal internship at Holland Middle School, she landed a job as Dean of Students at Paul Revere Middle School. In January 2006, she was appointed as principal at Lamar Fleming Middle School in the 5th Ward. During her tenure there, the school became a TEA "Recognized" school; she was named Wheatley Feeder Pattern Secondary Principal of the Year and the HISD Secondary Principal of the Year in 2011. In June 2011, she was appointed as the first female principal at the historic Jack Yates High School. Yates went from being an “Academically Unacceptable” campus to, two years later, becoming a TEA "Met Standard" school with an academic distinction in mathematics. Dr. Sheppard has a true passion for students and creating equity for all. As a native Houstonian and product of Houston ISD's Booker T. Washington High School, she understands the importance of education and its role in creating opportunities for individuals. She received her master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Houston.
Dr. Jennifer Collier - Chief Human Resources Officer
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr. Jennifer Collier has served as an educator in Kansas City Public Schools for 16 years. She's been a teacher, assistant principal, principal and Director of Human Resources. Ms. Collier earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, Masters of Arts in education from Avila University, Educational Specialist in educational leadership from UMKC, and is currently completing her doctoral degree from UMKC. She also completed the National Institute of School Leaders (NISL) program and is a certified NISL trainer. In this role, she has provided training for educators and school leaders across the state of Missouri. Jennifer is also PHR (Professional of Human Resources) certified as she leads the very critical work of the Human Resources department in KCPS.
Ms. Collier comes from a family of educators and education has always played an integral role in her life. She is very passionate about education and believes that all children deserve access to a quality education, as it has the power to unlock doors of experience and opportunities that would otherwise be closed. In her role as Chief Human Resources Officer, she is dedicated to securing a workforce that has the capacity, will and dedication to provide a quality educational experience for the children and families of Kansas City Public Schools.
William Thornton - Chief Legal Counsel
William Thornton was selected to be the Chief Legal Counsel for Kansas City Public Schools in November of 2018. He had most recently served as the General Legal Counsel for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since February of 2014. Before that, Mr. Thornton was the Kansas Secretary of Commerce from November 2009 to January 2011 under Governor Mark Parkinson.
Thornton received a bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctor from Washburn University's School of Law. Thornton worked with Hallmark Cards and also as an attorney with Duncan-Senecal Law Offices, Chartered, in Atchison.
Thornton was appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents by former Governor Kathleen Sebelius in 2007, as well as the Kansas Mentor’s Leadership Council and the Kansas Health Care Information Exchange Commission. He was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Kansas Long Range Transportation Plan by Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller.
Mr. Thornton has also served as the Atchison Hospital Association’s Board Chair, on the University of Kansas’ Multicultural Scholars National Board of Advisors, as the Vice President of Citizens for Community Action of Atchison, as a Board Member and District Leader for the Midori Yama Budokai Martial Arts Association and as President of the Trustee Board for Shiloh Baptist Church.
Linda Quinley - Chief Financial and Operations Officer
Linda Quinley has been with Columbia Public Schools for 11 years, serving originally as the Director of Business Services and then as Chief Financial and Operations Officer. She has also served as the Treasurer of the CPS Board of Education. During her time at CPS, Linda helped lead successful campaigns for two operating levies and five bond elections. After earning a bachelor's degree in accounting from William Woods University, she started her career at a regional Certified Public Accounting firm, serving clients ranging from local business to not-for-profits and corporations. She worked her way up to management positions in the banking and insurance industries. Linda and her husband have owned small, local grocery and hardware retail stores, giving her the perspective of the small business taxpayers who support their community and schools through property taxes, programs and partnerships. She and her family have lived in Missouri nearly their entire lives and raised two sons here.
Kelly Wachel - Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
Kelly Wachel is a 15-year school communications professional with experience in small urban, large suburban and large urban school districts in the Kansas City region. She serves as the Chief Marketing and Communications officer for Kansas City Public Schools. Prior to her work in school public relations, Ms. Wachel worked in sales and in the corporate communications sector as a senior associate at Ernst & Young LLP.
Ms. Wachel serves as the Missouri School Public Relations Association (MOSPRA) president. She has been a keynote speaker at the Missouri DESE Administrators’ Conference, a multi-year presenter at the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) annual seminar, a presenter at local, regional and national conferences, a member of the Missouri/Kansas Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) and has her professional APR accreditation, Accredited in Public Relations.
Ms. Wachel has led through comprehensive engagement series processes through which the communications efforts garnered over 15,000 individual pieces of feedback used to help determine community and school district direction for strategic master plans. Through in-person engagement series, multi-layered surveying strategies and chronicling processes transparently and openly, her communications efforts have led to a Golden Achievement Award from NSPRA.
A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism, with an emphasis in Strategic Communications, Ms. Wachel has also written two books about school communications - Parents and Schools Together and Having an Impact on Learning.