Hall of Leaders

Susan Ford Robertson

Susan Ford Robertson is a graduate of Hickman High School. She practices law in Kansas City at The Robertson Law Group, LLC, where she serves as appellate counsel assisting trial counsel across the nation in all phases of all complex civil litigation. She has over 160 published federal and state appeals. Susan is an elected fellow in the American Academy of Appellate lawyers, and she is the first and only female attorney from Missouri so elected. She also is an elected fellow of Litigation Counsel of America and is the only Missouri attorney to be serving on the Super Lawyers Advisory Board of Directors.

Susan received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a law degree, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She serves as vice chair of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority. Susan is also past president of the Missouri Board of Law Examiners, past president of the Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, past chair of the Appellate Judicial Retention Committee and past member of the Missouri Supreme Court Advisory Committee.

Among her many honors, she is the recipient of the 2011 Women’s Justice Awards Litigation Practitioner of the Year, the Kansas City Legal Leader Civil Justice Award and the Missouri Bar President’s Award. For the past 10 years, she has consistently been named to the Top 100 Missouri Lawyers, Top 50 Kansas City Lawyers and the Top 50 Missouri and Kansas Women Lawyers by Super Lawyers.

Carol Almony

Carol Almony taught grades kindergarten to fourth in the Columbia Public Schools from 1984 until her retirement from teaching in 2007. After a distinguished career as a CPS teacher, Carol has volunteered her time and talents to benefit even more generations of Columbia’s students. As a volunteer, she has assisted kindergarten to fourth-grade students daily at Fairview Elementary from 2013 to the present, working with students on academic and literacy skills, helping at-risk students and providing enrichment and extension activities such as nonfiction research.

Carol spends an average of nine hours per week at Fairview during the school year. She also has mentored a child for the past two years. She helps with classroom parties, kindergarten field days and field trips, and also provides classroom supplies, books or snacks to classrooms as needed. Carol works with individual students, small groups and whole group activities with classrooms.

Among her honors, she received the Ray Lewis Outstanding Elementary Educator of the Year Award for grades PreK-3. She is a member of the Missouri Retired Teachers Association.

Linda Coutts

Linda Coutts began her teaching career as a third-grade teacher in St. Louis County in 1970. In 1978, after completing her degree in mathematics education, she was recruited to be the elementary mathematics supervisor for Columbia Public Schools, a position she served in for 32 years. Since retiring from CPS, Linda has taught elementary and early childhood mathematics methods at MU.

During her tenure at CPS, students and teachers thrived in an autonomous atmosphere. Linda not only served the learning needs of students, but also served the learning needs of teachers. She knew that to improve student achievement, teachers thinking and instructional strategies and methods had to change.  Professional development was a priority.

Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a master’s degree in elementary mathematics from Webster University. Among her many other professional and community volunteer activities, she has served as president of the Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Darlene Huff

Darlene Huff began her career with Columbia Public Schools in 1980 as a school nurse, ultimately becoming the coordinator of the Health Services program in 1990 until her retirement in 2004.

As schools faced barriers to learning represented by poor student health, Darlene sought out new ways to improve children’s health and therefore their ability to learn through education and prevention strategies. Under her leadership, a Comprehensive School Health Policy and Procedure Manual was developed for CPS and was ultimately shared with other Missouri school districts. Darlene also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri School of Nursing and worked with Dr. Robert Gaines to establish a spinal screening program that was implemented in school districts throughout the state.

Darlene established the Dr. Gene E. Huff Educational Scholarship program that annually provides a Career Advancement scholarship award and a Teaching Fellowship scholarship award to CPS educators and teaching fellows. She serves on the board of directors for the MU School of Nursing Alumni Board.

Carolyn Roof

Carolyn Roof has spent her professional career helping countless students and families as a counselor. She served as an elementary school counselor at Columbia Public Schools and the CPS elementary district school counseling coordinator until 2010. As counselor, she developed and implemented the use of many career education materials and organized career fairs and career days.

At Mill Creek Elementary, she was well-known for her active involvement in everything from Career Days to Doughnuts for Dads. She was a positive force and developed many fun activities children wanted to be a part of, whether spending time with Siggy the mascot or enjoying her puppets and hats for every occasion. She was an active member of the Mill Creek Elementary Partners in Education program and was honored for her work with a career education award.

Carolyn is an adjunct faculty member in the School Counseling department at Stephens College. She serves on the leadership board of the Mid-Missouri School Counselor Association and leads the School Counseling Curriculum Writing Project at the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Carolyn has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in elementary guidance and counseling from Northwest Missouri State University. She also has self-published numerous children’s books.

Jim King (posthumous)

Dr. Jim King served as principal of Rock Bridge High School from 1993-1998 and as assistant principal there from 1978-1992. Dr. King passed away earlier this year.

As principal, Jim enlisted teachers to examine the possibility of various schedules to enhance learning. After much research and input from faculty, Jim created a schedule customized to meet the needs of RBHS and the block schedule was initiated. Today the block schedule remains in place at Rock Bridge and has been expanded to all three CPS high schools. He also was dedicated to the Global Village multicultural event at Rock Bridge, where students displayed their cultures in the commons with music, food and artifacts. After retiring, Jim would return to Rock Bridge each year to experience Global Village.

Following his retirement from CPS in 1998, Jim became the executive director of the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals. As he traveled to different districts, Jim continued to sing the praises of CPS, and when he returned home, he would remind everyone of “how good we have it” at CPS. Jim earned a bachelor’s degree in French and a bachelor’s degree in education from Central Missouri State College, and a master’s in education and a doctorate of education in secondary administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Jeff Harris

Jeff Harris is a Columbia Public Schools graduate who has served in all three branches of Missouri government. Jeff was appointed to the 13th Circuit Court in 2016 and elected later that same year. In his position as circuit judge, Jeff presides over civil and criminal cases. Prior to his appointment to the court, Jeff served as the policy director for Gov. Jay Nixon. Jeff also was a member of the Missouri House of Representatives, serving Columbia’s 23rd District, and served as both House Minority Leader and House Minority Whip. He was the first Boone Countian since the 19th century to lead either party in the Missouri House. He previously was a Missouri Assistant Attorney General and worked in private practice for the international law firm Bryan Cave.

Jeff is a graduate of Cornell Law School, where he was a member of the Cornell Law Review. Jeff received his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, magna cum laude, where he also played on the varsity golf team. He also completed the Senior Executive Program at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Hickman High Super Kewp Award. Jeff is a graduate of Jefferson Junior High School and Hickman High School, where his first leadership role was as the sports editor for the Purple & Gold newspaper. He and his wife, Katie, also a CPS graduate, have two children enrolled at CPS.

Jon McRoberts

Jon McRoberts is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Missouri where, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation, he coordinates a large-scale white-tailed deer research project in Missouri. Jon has conducted wildlife research on giant pandas in western China for the Smithsonian Institute, has radio-tracked leopards in the Kalahari Desert for South Africa’s Centre for Wildlife Management, and conducted a multi-year wildlife investigation on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula—where his seven years of CPS Spanish classes were invaluable.

Back in the office, Jon has been the lead author of multiple peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, has given invited wildlife research presentations throughout the U.S. and Mexico, is a contributing author to Cornell University’s Birds of North America and Birds of the Neotropics, and has served as a consultant to Mexico’s federal wildlife authority.

Jon earned a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri-Columbia, as well as a master’s of science and doctorate in Wildlife Science and a MBA, all from Texas Tech University. Jon attended Russell Elementary and then was in the inaugural first grade class at Mill Creek Elementary. Jon saw his second school opening when he was in yet another inaugural class at Gentry Middle school, and then attended Jefferson Junior High and Rock Bridge High School, where he received the W. Wayne Walker Outstanding Graduating Senior Award. The diversity of experiences offered by CPS have served Jon throughout his life. For example, the Critters program, sponsored by CPSF, helped foster Jon’s early interest in wildlife.  Jon and his wife, Katrina, also a CPS graduate, reside in Columbia.

Sara Parker Pauley

Sara Parker Pauley was appointed by the Missouri Conservation Commission in 2016 as the director of the Missouri Department of Conservation, making her the first female director in the department’s 80-year history. She previously served as the director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. She also has worked as a project manager for D.J. Case & Associates, a natural resources communications firm. She worked with federal and state agencies on policy development, marketing, and environmental compliance. She also served as chief of staff to former Missouri House Speaker Steve Gaw.

A lifelong conservationist and an avid hunter, Sara has been an executive committee and board member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri. She was a member of the board of the American National Fish & Wildlife Museum, where she served as director of conservation programs. She has published a number of articles on wildlife and natural resources management and was honored with the Bass Pro Conservation Partners of the Year Award.

A native of Columbia, Sara received both her bachelor’s degree in journalism and her law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and did post-graduate studies in Australia as a Rotary Fellow. She is a graduate of Hickman High School.

Stephen Calloway

Stephen Calloway served as a member of the Columbia Public Schools District Board of Education. He is a leader dedicated to eliminating the achievement gap in public education and has served in various organizations and capacities working to address this gap in our community.

-Founding member, past president and current board member of Columbia Parents for Public Schools. The group was first formed in 1999 in response to the failure of a CPS bond/tax levy.

-Currently serves as National Board President of Parents for Public Schools, Inc. of which Columbia Parents for Public Schools is an outstanding member Chapter.

-President of the Minority Men’s Network (MMN), a local civic group made up largely of African American professional men serving the community. The

-MMN Educational Foundation has provided scholarships to CPS students since 2003. Drs. Eliot Battle and Arvarh Strickland were the co-conveners of the Minority Men’s Network.

-West Boulevard “Stand-By-Me” Program Mentor, 2004-2007

-Co-Chair of Columbia Public Schools (CPS) Achievement Gap Task Force, 2003-2004 with Mr. Skip Deming; 2005-2006 CPS Achievement Gap Task Force co-chair with Dr. Cheryl Cozette

-Elected to Columbia Public Schools District Board of Education, serving from 2006-2009; Board Vice-President and Finance Committee Chair 2008-2009. Our Board was responsible for hiring Dr. Chris Belcher as Superintendent in 2009.

-Helped plan and conduct CPS World Café Discussion Series on the Achievement Gap beginning in November 2010; coordinated Community Work Groups formed as a result of the World Café meetings.

-Founding member and Co-Chair of Cradle-to-Career Alliance, part of the StriveTogether Network. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network is a national network of 63 community partnerships in 32 states and Washington, D.C. working to improve educational success for every child by bringing together cross-sector partners around a common vision.

Much of my interaction with Columbia Public Schools has been the result of my awareness and concern about the achievement gap. The Columbia Public Schools District is exceptional, and Iris and I are thankful that both our adult sons received a quality public school education. As an African American male and the father of two African American males, it concerns me greatly that too many of our African American males are not finding success in school and life. Doing everything I can to support efforts to close the achievement gap and personally contribute to the success of African American males especially, is what motivates my involvement with CPS and our community. Columbia is a resource-rich district that provides high-quality instruction and diverse extracurricular opportunities and programs, and benefits from amazing community volunteers. I believe our educators, CPS leadership and the Board of Education are committed to the success of all students, but the community needs to be “all-in” if we’re going to eliminate the achievement gap. We can do this!”

– Stephen Calloway

 

© 2019 Columbia Public Schools Foundation