NIXA, Mo. After months of searching across the country, the Nixa public school district has chosen a replacement for longtime superintendent Dr. Stephen Klinesmith.
Dr. Gearl Loden will take over for Klinesmith at the end of June.
He has been in charge of Tupelo, Mississippi public schools for the past six years.
The Nixa Board of Education believes he's the person that will help them with the challenges they will face in the future.
"I'm a parent. I have two children. We want to know that we're in a place that's safe. That you have a high quality of life. When we visited southwest Missouri over the years we just love it," said Loden.
Loden comes from Mississippi with a wealth of accomplishments, including being named the state superintendent of the year two years ago. More than that, he's familiar with the challenges Missouri schools face.
"In the state where I'm from as long as you have high levels of academic achievement you don't have to worry about the charters," he said.
He's already working on a plan for Nixa schools.
"As long as you're a leader, as long as you're innovative and you offer parents choice, with the programs that we have, why would they choose a charter," he said.
Loden comes from one of the largest districts in his state. He said he understands what it takes to help schools grow.
"A bond issue has to be community based. It can't be a superintendent saying here's a bond issue. You need to have community members say we need a bond because this is our future," he explained.
Loden said he looks forward to working with neighboring superintendents.
"There's lots of partnerships for the professional development and training already in place. I look forward to working with neighboring superintendents and getting to know them," he said.
Loden plans to spend the next few months learning the ropes from outgoing superintendent, Stephen Klinesmith.
"I can't replace him. I've got to be Gearl Lorden, myself and honor the traditions of the past and look for ways to be innovative without radical change or being too conservative. I'm up for the challenge," he said.
Loden officially starts his position with the school district on July 1st.