The Mehlville School District is kicking off a new breakfast series designed to connect the school district with the community, especially the business community.
The business community breakfast series, called “Good Morning Mehlville-Oakville,” will debut at 7:15 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, at Andre’s South, 4254 Telegraph Road. Breakfast will be served until 7:45, followed by a panel discussion on the district’s technology and 1:1 initiatives and how they relate to community businesses and the workforce.
The event is free and will end promptly at 8:30 so that people can make it to work on time.
“It’ll be a phenomenal breakfast,” Superintendent Norm Ridder told the Call. “A good breakfast, by the way, gives you good conversations … That’s what community’s all about.”
The breakfast is planned as a monthly event, for the first Thursday of every month. Over the next several months, the event will be tied in to the district’s strategic planning to get feedback from the area business community.
Community and business members can meet and greet Ridder, administrators, principals, teachers and Board of Education members and network with other members of the district’s business community.
Modeled on a successful business breakfast series, “Good Morning, Springfield!”, that Ridder began while he was the superintendent at Springfield Public Schools, the breakfasts will be Ridder’s equivalent of former Superintendent Eric Knost’s town-hall meetings.
“Good Morning, Springfield!” is hosted by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and features presentations from Springfield businesses and government leaders rather than the school district, but in Ridder’s early feedback on the breakfasts in Mehlville, he found that business leaders really wanted to hear about their public schools instead.
“What I’m finding out is people really want Mehlville public schools to be front and center in this breakfast,” Ridder said. “We’ve tested a few (business) leaders, and that’s what they want. They shifted me on that, so now it’s going to be more of a focus on schools and school preparation — helping schools get kids ready for the workforce.”
Another change Ridder has made after feedback from members of the business community is adding Oakville to the breakfast series name, rather than simply calling the event “Good Morning Mehlville.”
In the past, some members of the school board have suggested changing the name of the district to the Mehlville-Oakville District, on the theory that some residents of Oakville do not realize they live in the Mehlville School District.
The lack of incorporation of Oakville and the other areas covered by the district has presented a challenge to bringing the Mehlville district community together with the schools, Ridder said, noting that Springfield, now the largest district in the state, is covered by one city and one chamber of commerce, while Mehlville, less than half the size of Springfield Public Schools, has four separate chambers of commerce and only part of one incorporated city, Green Park, in its boundaries.