Hall of Leaders - 2004

Linda Thiele

Volunteered in Columbia Public Schools for forty hours a week for 15 years.

Served as PTA President, Building Volunteer Coordinator, Magazine Sales Chair, Teacher and Staff Appreciation Chair, and Vice President.

President of the Columbia Council of PTAs for two consecutive years.

Leadership in the Columbia Parents for Public Schools organization.

Dr. Roy Willard

Served 34 years at Jefferson Junior High, the last 20 as its Principal.

Started in 1964 teaching German and Social Studies, became Social Studies Department Chair, then Assistant Principal, then Principal.

During his tenure, JJH received a State Gold Star award and was twice named a national Blue Ribbon School Award winner.

Dr. Kent Kurtz

Graduate of Field Elementary, Jefferson Junior High, Hickman High School and the University of Missouri, Ph.D. in education at UMC.

Played on the University’s 1953 conference championship and NCAA runner-up baseball team.

3 years in the NY Yankees organization playing minor league baseball.

Served in the United States Air Force during the Korean War.

Joined the Columbia School District in 1956 as a science teacher and coach at Jefferson Junior High Served as Principal of West Junior High from 1966-73, Director of Physical Education and Athletics for the district from 1973-1981.

Oversaw the implementation of Title IX, mandating the introduction of girl’s sports.

Dr. Gene Huff (posthumous)

21 years at Oakland Junior High, as a counselor and then as Principal.

12 years Director of Personnel for Columbia Public Schools.

Worked to develop the Fellows Program in conjunction with the UMC.

Instrumental in the development of a minority internship program that exposed many African-American college students to the teaching field.

UMC College of Education Alumni Advisory Board.

Dr. Huff passed away in January 2003, and is missed by all who knew him.

Ilene Ford

Retired after 31 years in Columbia Public Schools.

Master teacher of social studies.

Helped open Oakland Junior High, then two years later, Rock Bridge High School.

At RBHS 18 years, chair of the social studies department and coordinator of extracurricular activities.

Dr. Albert George (AG) Miller

Distinguished career as a scholar and community leader.

Ph.D. in religion at Princeton University.

Associate Professor of Religion at Oberlin College, teaches American and African-American Religious History and has authored numerous scholarly texts about religion in African-American culture.

Ordained minister in The House of The Lord Pentecostal Church and serves on numerous community boards in Oberlin, Ohio.

Peter Hessler

Graduated with distinction from Princeton University Rhodes Scholar.

Author of the acclaimed memoir, River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze recounting his Peace Corps experience in China.

Staff writer for The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker; has written for The Boston Globe, The Atlantic Monthly, and The National Geographic.

Volunteered for the Columbia youth track program and in several of our elementary schools.

Lynda Baumgartner

Co-owner Image Technologies of Missouri.

Former Chair of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Served as United Way Campaign Co-Chair.

Consistently involved in a number of important educational initiatives for Columbia’s youth, partnering local institutions with the business community.

Former Columbia Public Schools teacher.

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