WWU Graduate Honored for Efforts in Education

A two-time William Woods University graduate, whose goal is to provide an environment that allows students and teachers to achieve their maximum potential, has been rewarded for her efforts.

Melinda Wilbeck, middle school principal of Brookfield R-3 School District, is the 2008 Missouri Outstanding Rural Administrator of the Year.

The Missouri Association of Rural Education (MARE) recently presented the award at its annual conference in Lake Ozark, Mo. MARE serves more than 400 rural educators and school districts in both K-8 and K-12.

The award is given annually to one individual statewide who has shown outstanding dedication, passion and support to their school district. Wilbeck’s nomination was made by Kristi Varner, language arts instructor, and supported by two additional letters of recommendation.

Afterward, Varner commented, “At Brookfield, we believe in the team concept; no one believes in this more than Melinda Wilbeck. She won this one for the team. If you have ever known a person that possesses charisma; that can do things you just can’t explain; then you would have an idea of what Melinda Wilbeck is like.”

A former colleague, Kathy Lowther, said, “She is an extraordinary person and administrator; Melinda is the type of person that takes everything on her shoulders; she will do anything to help her teachers be productive in the classroom. She truly has the students’ best interest at heart; all of her decisions are geared around what is best for her students.”

Wilbeck is quick to credit her colleagues, saying, “This is a team award. I am surrounded by outstanding people, and the award is a reflection of the group as a whole.”

She has a long history with the Brookfield R-III School District. Born and raised in the community, she graduated from Brookfield High School in 1988.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and physical education from William Woods in 1993. She then received her master’s degree in educational administration from Northwest Missouri State University and in 2005 earned her educational specialist degree from William Woods University.

She was eager to return home after earning her undergraduate degree.

“Brookfield is special to me for two reasons; one, because my family is here. I couldn’t be successful at my job without the support of my husband, parents and extended family. Second, I wanted to be a part of the district that gave me so much as a child.”

Her husband, Lee, is a science teacher at Brookfield High School, and they have two daughters, Sydney, 7, and Maddie, 2.

Wilbeck speaks highly of her experience at William Woods University.

“The graduate program is great,” she said. “I have a coaching background and understand the benefits of working with teammates. The graduate courses are structured to promote group activity. Learning is about relationships and communication, and the classes incorporated quality conversation and collaboration.”

She has spent the past 14 years in Brookfield as a teacher and coach and is currently the principal for grades six through eight. She has worked with the district to implement several programs, including the ZAP program, which stands for Zeros Aren’t Permitted, and encourages students to be responsible with assignment deadlines. ZAP focuses on students who turn work in late or fail to turn it in altogether.

According to Wilbeck, the Brookfield school district “will continue to help students reach their highest potential. That has always been our goal and we will continue doing what is best for our students.”

She added, “The experiences and knowledge I gained from WWU have helped me immensely to be successful in this position. If I had to do it again, I would choose William Woods for both the undergraduate and graduate programs. I thank all those at WWU who touched my life and who helped me get where I am today.”

Dr. Paul Barger, Brookfield superintendent of schools, praised Wilbeck, “Melinda embodies the expectation that our children deserve our best every day, and she continues to work very hard to make that vision a reality.”