It’s Morning Edition on KRPS. I’m Fred Fletcher-Fierro. Many city, county, and school board elections take place in about two weeks on Tuesday, April 6, in Missouri. Today we turn our attention to Gretchen Shull, a candidate for Webb City School Board. She was born and raised in Cardinal County and was Webb City’s High Schools Valedictorian in 1995. She would earn a Medical Degree at the University of Missouri, Columbia and is now a Doctor of Endocrinology at Mercy Hospital in Joplin. According to Gretchen, the seed to run for School Board was planted in her head when she was in Middle School in the early ’90s.
“I had a teacher named Terry Rose in junior high; back through her program, she exposed us to different things. One of those things was how to be important in your community and actually how the school ran. How decisions were made and those sorts of things. She made sure that we went to a few school board meetings. And so, even back then, it even spurred my interest. And thinking, just the conversations that were had. Just the elements and the needs that came up. So it was kind of in my brain all along.” Gretchen Shull
Gretchen’s husband, Jonathan Shull, is a current member of the Webb City, city council. She says having two family members on two different city boards isn’t about having control over the city. But she and Jonathan, an architect, are passionate citizens with professional backgrounds that apply to helping run a town, and they want to give back. Gretchen has also seen firsthand what it’s been like for her husband to work with residents and solve problems.
“It is the fact that I feel like should something like this come up again I’m, kind of a decent go-to person for that. So part of my job, I’m an endocrinologist, so I see patients daily. The other 50% percent of my job at Mercy is in the quality and safety department within the entire Mercy system. So I work for what we call Mercy Ministry. So St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Arkansas, all the way through Springfield and Joplin, so I’m the Vice President of Diabetes care and that is under quality and safety. So I have a lot of discussions, infection control sits within quality and safety, as well.” Gretchen Shull
According to Gretchen, her connections within the health care community, both locally and across the Four State region, would be highly beneficial to the Webb City Schools. While the seat may be on the school board, her concerns are about the larger Webb City community. If elected, Gretchen would like the district to focus on professional development for Webb City teachers.
“I think that there is a need to investigate and do a deeper dive into some professional development opportunities. I’m not inside it right now, so obviously, there’s a lot of learning for me to do, but I do see some opportunity there. And not just being a simple having sort of a checkmark version of like a mentor. But some real, deep, professional development.” Gretchen Shull
Gretchen sees opportunities to apply a more personalized approach to public education, similar to how she takes care of her patients. She also wants the Webb City School District to take a closer look at students’ nutritional needs. She sees a direct link between eating patterns of young students in Kindergarten and how that could affect them in high school and later, even later in life.
“I have a passion for nutrition. The nation has an issue obviously with obesity and has difficulty with food. Are children are obviously no exception. How do you help society? You get back into, getting at it while they’re young. Getting them to understand the nature of food and what it does for you and how it’s your fuel. Preventing chronic diseases and problems down the line. So there’s a lot of interesting pieces across the nation where we’re getting into the cafeterias and handling fresh produce, frozen if you have to, but that’s a huge, big issue because you can’t just store food cheaply. There’s a whole food waste situation, so obviously, it’s not. You can’t just fix it overnight.” Gretchen Shull
Webb City Schools’ motto is that ‘You Can Go Anywhere From Here’ has rung true for Gretchen. If elected, she wants to make sure that this continues to be the case for future generations of Webb City Cardinals.
“I’m hoping that people today, if they’re listening to this, they appreciate my passion. The fact that I just really care. You know I get it. The kids matter. What’s more precious than being able to shape the minds and protect the children that are going to be taking care of us someday? They need to understand their identity in this world, and I would really like the opportunity to help shape that. You know, my kids are going to be fine because I’m going to help them get to where they need to go, because I just know, but what about the kids that don’t have that? So I worry. I see some of the children out there, and I’d like an opportunity to assist them and find them what they need in life to be amazing adults.” Gretchen Shull
Gretchen Shull is one of 4 candidates running for 1 of 2 seats on the Webb City Council Board. Each chair has a 3-year term.
Jason Woodmansee, Lisa Hartman Robinson, and Grant Collings are also running. This election takes place Tuesday, April 6.
Candidate Lisa Hartman Robinson declined to be interviewed for this project.
All four candidates for will participate in a forum at Webb City High School Barton Auditorium, Monday, March 29, at 7:00 P.M.