Jerry Waddle honored as Pioneer in Education

Monday, August 4, 2008

Jerry Waddle is a recognized name in the education field in Southeast Missouri.

Over the last four decades, Waddle has been a teacher, a principal and the superintendent of the Delta, Kelly and Dexter school districts; worked for the state education department; taught educational leadership at Southeast Missouri State University and been director of the Regional Professional Development Center.

"I guess a lot of people know me," he laughs.

Waddle will be honored for his educational service to Missouri today. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has named Waddle a "Pioneer in Education." He will be recognized with four other state "pioneers" at a conference in Osage Beach, Mo.

"I feel humbled and honored to be selected for this. It was quite a shock to me," Waddle said, via phone in Florida, where he was vacationing last week.

Despite retiring in August 2007, Waddle has still been active in the education community. In the winter, he assisted the Cape Girardeau School Board with its superintendent search after the termination of Dr. David Scala. Waddle works as a consultant with the Missouri School Board Association, which the district hired to guide the search.

In the spring, he served as the interim dean for Southeast's College of Education, and he plans to continue teaching there part-time in the fall.

Southeast is his alma mater. It wasn't until his junior year that he decided to switch from a major in biology and chemistry to one in education, and he hasn't looked back, he said.

Waddle's seen a lot of changes over the years, but by far the biggest is the "testing and accountability" movement, he said. "Schools are judged so much of the time on how students perform simply on tests. There's more to it than that."

Education runs in his family's genes, he said: one of his daughters is a teacher in the Kelly School District, another is a teacher in Delta, and his wife is the Head Start director in Chaffee, Mo.

"The most rewarding thing about a career in education is the fact that you get to see so many students go through school and become successful in life, knowing that you might have had a part in that success," he said.

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