Kristie Robinson

Long-time Oak Grove teacher selected to lead elementary school
Posted on 08/22/2022
Kristie Robinson

Before Jenifer Richardson retired as principal of Oak Grove, the elementary school was named one of Poplar Bluff’s National Blue Ribbon schools, and rated the No. 9 ‘Best Elementary School’ in Missouri by U.S. News & World Report last year.

Long-time Oak Grove instructor Kristie Robinson, who has been an instrumental team player in all the work that led to the accolades, has been hired as Richardson’s successor for the 2022/23 school year.

“Mrs. Richardson is leaving big shoes to fill, but I have no doubt that Mrs. Robinson is up to the task,” said R-I Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Patty Robertson, noting that Robinson taught her own children at Oak Grove, and before that served as director of the preschool facility they attended. “I have always found Kristie to be an excellent communicator, energetic and very detail oriented. She is organized and can keep a lot of things going at the same time.”

Robinson has taught at Oak Grove for the past 12 years, after spending two years as a faculty member at Lake Road, Poplar Bluff’s first Blue Ribbon school. When she originally moved to Poplar Bluff in 2004, Robinson served as administrator of the former Heartland Christian Academy, and then Foundations Child Development Center, now named Unity Academy.

Her career in public education began in 2000 as a Title 1 reading program director and educator at Green Forest in Salem, followed by teaching fourth grade at Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School in Joplin. Robinson earned her master's degree in elementary administration from William Woods University in Fulton in 2007, and said she always planned to assume a leadership position after her son Tanner graduated in 2021.

"I've been a teacher in that building for a very long time. I love teaching and love that instruction piece, creating those little classroom families every year," said Robinson, pointing out that leaving the class environment will be a transition. "I'm hoping that when I move into that instructional leadership role, I will continue to be able to support the staff in that capacity. I will always be a teacher at heart.”

Named the 2018 Oak Grove Teacher of the Year by her colleagues, Robinson has been involved in the implementation of school-wide behavior supports, which the elementary school achieved gold level for the first time during the 2019/20 school year. Oak Grove was also named a National ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished School both in 2017 and 2019, respectively, for its exceptional student achievement.

“I’m very lucky to have been a part of all that hard work we did implementing PLC [professional learning communities], our collaborative teams, data-driven instruction, PBIS and everything else over the years that have given us those successes realized," Robinson said. “Great ideas are great, but if you don’t have buy-in and work ethics, great ideas are never gonna come to fruition.”

While Robinson has been instrumental in numerous smaller school-wide initiatives such as sponsoring the student leadership team, volunteering to help with campus beautification, mentoring new teachers and helping to coordinate the Jingle Jog service project, she credits Richardson for being the “visionary” and “driving force.” She said she feels lucky to not only have observed Richardson through all the progress, but can call her a personal friend beyond the profession.

“You can’t speak about moving forward without talking about the foundation created by Mrs. Richardson and the staff. Oak Grove has one of the hardest working dedicated staffs, in my opinion, and I believe they work every single day to do what’s best for kids, trying to get better, looking for ways to grow,” Robinson continued. “I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of that in a teaching capacity, and I look forward to providing that support and leadership they need to be successful in their jobs.”

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Cutline: Kristie Robinson has been chosen to succeed Jenifer Richardson as principal of Oak Grove, one of two National Blue Ribbon schools across the district.

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