A Jackson man will run the Risco School District for a year as the district makes preparations for its incoming leader.
Gary Whitledge came out of retirement to accept the position of interim superintendent. The school district hired him for the school year to lead the district and train future superintendent, Amy Baker, who will take the position next school year when her certification is complete.
"The reason you go into this business is to teach and train," Whitledge said.
Whitledge has a diverse career ranging from teaching and administration. He is originally from Jackson and lives on a small farm next to the one where he was raised.
After receiving a bachelor's degree from Southeast Missouri State, Whitledge received a master's degree from the University of St. Louis. He returned to Southeast to earn his specialization in administration.
He has taught school in Illinois and Indiana and has served as superintendent at the Lick Creek and Cairo, Ill., school districts. In Arizona and Illinois, he also spent 17 years working in the private sector. Whitledge has two children, a daughter, who is an accountant with Nestle-Purina in Bloomfield, and a son, who is a physician in Fulton, Ky. Three grandchildren round out his family.
This is not the first time he has been an interim superintendent. He said it is beneficial to share the experience he has learned while making the transition from one superintendent to another smooth for the students, staff and incoming superintendent.
Whitledge said he looks forward to working with the Risco School Board.
"With the right kind of relationship, they are a terrific asset in the decision-making process," he said. "This is an unusually good board."
While working at Risco for a couple of months, he said it has "broadened his horizons." He said he believes the people care about education, the parents are involved and the students are well behaved. Because of these factors, he said a higher quality of education is available to students.
Whitledge said he plans to work hard for the district this year and he wants to enjoy it.