Bob Jerome was a student in the Blue Springs School District all the way through high school and has spent his entire education career in the district.
In 2021, he will become its next superintendent.
The Blue Springs Board of Education voted Monday to make Jerome, currently assistant superintendent of operations, the district's superintendent-in-waiting, to succeed Paul Kinder in July 2021.
Kinder is in his second stint as superintendent, as he returned in 2018 when his successor Jim Finley retired after four years at the helm. Jerome follows Kinder and Finley in that he was a longtime district employee who rose to central administration before being tapped for the superintendent post.
“It's kind of a surreal,” said Jerome, who attended James Lewis Elementary and graduated from Blue Springs High School and then Northwest Missouri State University.
“I came back 20 years ago and had my first teaching job in the district, teaching at Delta Woods Middle School in social studies and coaching in three sports.”
From there, he became a teacher and coach at Blue Springs High School before shifting to administration. He was an administrative intern at Brittany Hill, then assistant principal at Blue Springs High School. In 2009, he became principal at Sunny Vale Middle School (since renamed for Kinder), but after a few months returned to the high school as associate principal – something the district asked of him after then associate-principal Slade Morlang suddenly died.
Jerome said if he hadn't just started at Sunny Vale, he wouldn't have left for the high school.
“I was familiar with the people there, and they were hurting,” he said. “It was what I could do to help the district.”
He was principal at Blue Springs from 2014 to 18 before becoming assistant superintendent. The board had hired back Kinder on a three-year contract to bide its time and find a long-term successor, as Finley had announced his retirement just a few months ahead. When the job was posted internally a few months ago, Jerome said he felt comfortable enough to apply.
“They were adamant to stay in the district,” Jerome said. “I applied, interviewed, and here we are.”
Jerome oversaw the district's 2018 bond issue campaign. Ongoing projects include a freshman wing at Blue Springs South High School, districtwide safety upgrades, a new library and fine arts spaces at Blue Springs High School, classroom additions and new multi-purpose spaces – all to completed during the 2020-21 school year.
“I have the utmost confidence that he is the right person to lead us for the future,” Board President Dale Walkup said in a release.
For Jerome, the next 1½ years will be a learning opportunity.
“I feel fortunate to be in the position I'm in, to learn from Dr. Kinder,” he said. “The community's been successful during his time, and my goal is to make it a seamless transition.”