(COLUMBIA, MO) – The Columbia Public Schools Foundation (CPSF) named its 2023 Hall of Leaders, to be honored at CPSF’s annual fall event. Honorees include Outstanding Alumni Adam Beckett and Matthew Peach (posthumously) and Outstanding Retired Educators Craig Adams and Wanda Brown.
“The Columbia Public Schools Foundation is pleased to honor this year’s Hall of Leaders,” said David Townsend, president of the CPSF Board of Directors. “We celebrate those who have made outstanding contributions, whether as alumni or educators.”
The event, which will include a reception and program, will be held Thursday, Sept. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the State Historical Society of Missouri, 605 Elm Street. Tickets are available online at cpsf.org/event-tickets.
Dr. Adam Beckett
Adam Beckett attended West Junior High School and is a graduate of Rock Bridge High School. Adam earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his medical doctor degree from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, followed by a residency at Resurrection Hospital in Chicago. Adam served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1995-1999 and served as an infantry platoon commander in the First Marine Division. He has been an attending emergency room physician at the University of Missouri Hospital and Clinics since 2006 and an attending physician at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital since 2020.
Adam is the founder and president of Global First Responder (GFR), a nonprofit international medical relief organization. Global First Responder seeks to connect medical professionals in the U.S. with international services and medical care opportunities in places of critical need. Since its founding in 2011, the all-volunteer organization has provided healthcare and humanitarian services to more than 50 countries including Haiti, Kenya, Cambodia, Jordan, Ethiopia, India, the Congo, Morocco, Liberia, Ukraine and Turkey, among others.
Colonel Matthew Peach (posthumous)
Matthew “Matt” Peach was born in 1928 in McBaine, Mo., and attended a one-room schoolhouse during grade school. He graduated from Douglass High School in 1946. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Tuskegee Institute and a master’s degree in personnel management from Troy State University. He was Columbia’s first African American military aviator promoted to the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Air Force.
Col. Peach earned his pilot wings in 1957 and became a command pilot in 1972. During a thirty-year career with the U.S. Air Force, Col. Peach flew missions all over the world, undergirding a love for international travel. While serving in Vietnam, he was rescued in Laos after a reconnaissance mission. His many military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. In 2006, he was recognized as an honored guest by the Salute to Veterans Corporation air show in Columbia.
Upon retirement from the Air Force, Col. Peach began a second career as a certified financial planner. He served as treasurer of the Heart of America Chapter/Kansas City of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., for nearly two decades. He passed away at age 88 on April 15, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo.
Outstanding Retired Educator
Craig Adams retired in 2018 after a 30-year career with the Columbia Public Schools (CPS). During that time, he served as a technology education teacher at Jefferson Junior High, where he also was head coach in boys’ basketball and girls’ track. He spent five years as the information technology specialist and six years as the practical arts coordinator for CPS. As STEAM coordinator and STEAM bus driver for the district, Craig created a nationally-recognized STEAM program (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) with a 99 percent positive staff rating. The STEAM bus, a custom-designed full-size school bus, traveled to schools and programs to provide students with a lab and access to technology not available in the schools.
Craig is a founding member of the Columbia STEM Alliance, a local network of educators, business partners and volunteers that inspire interest in and provide support for STEM in the Columbia area.
Craig is part of a family of CPS educators: his wife, Susie, retired from Battle High School in 2023, son Jacob is currently the principal at Jefferson Middle School, daughter Whitney is a teacher at Parkade Elementary, and son Taylor is a former teacher at West Middle School.
Outstanding Retired Educator
Wanda Brown retired in 2012 after 34 years with the Columbia Public Schools (CPS). She served as the district’s assistant superintendent of secondary education for seven years. Prior to that position, she served as principal of Hickman High School, principal of Smithton Middle School and assistant principal of Hickman. She also served as the director of multicultural education and middle school coordinator for CPS. She began her CPS career as an English teacher at Hickman.
Wanda holds a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in speech/theatre from William Woods. In addition, she has a master of education degree in educational administration, an educational specialist degree in educational administration, and a doctorate of education in educational leadership and policy analysis, all from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Throughout her tenure with CPS, Wanda served on numerous district and community committees and boards to plan and implement best practices for the schools. She was the leader of the Design Committee for Muriel Williams Battle High School and the Secondary Reorganization Committee, and co-founder of the Minority Achievement Committee (MAC) Scholars. Among her many honors and professional achievements, Wanda is the recipient of the Outstanding Service MLK Award, the Community Champion Award, and the NAACP Outstanding Educator Award.
Wanda’s son, George Galbreath, was honored as an Outstanding Alumni in the 2018 Hall of Leaders, making them the first mother-son pair to be inducted into the Hall of Leaders.
The Columbia Public Schools Foundation is a private foundation established in 1996 by community volunteers dedicated to the enrichment of public education through community giving. The Foundation has funded projects in every school, allocating more than $1.6 million to enhance education in the Columbia Public Schools. CPSF has supported teachers and students for more than 26 years.