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
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.
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 was 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.