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Five Missourians were honored earlier this week by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as Pioneers in Education for their commitment and contributions to public education. They join more than 200 others who have been named to the select group of Pioneers since the inception of the award. Congratulations to:

Christopher “Kit” Bond, Mexico, expanded the Parents as Teachers pilot statewide while serving as Missouri’s Governor and signed a bill requiring all school districts to offer the program, benefiting 3 million children in the state. After being elected to the U.S. Senate, Bond continued to advocate for Parents as Teachers on a national level. Today, Parents as Teachers includes 3,000 programs and has expanded to all 50 states and seven countries.

Carl Fisher, Pleasant Hope, began driving a school bus when he was just 16 and continued serving the children of Missouri for 65 years. Fisher holds the Guinness World Record for longest career as a school bus driver, transporting students from three generations of families.

Ann Gibbons, Florissant, has served on the Hazelwood School District’s Board of Education for close to 33 years. While serving on the local school board, Gibbons has helped to restore Hazelwood’s 150-year-old one-room schoolhouse, advocated for more than $300 million in bond issue improvements and assisted with the implementation of full-day kindergarten. Gibbons has also been active with the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for 43 years.

Jack Kinder, Chesterfield, spent 49 years as a teacher, superintendent, professor and advisor to students across the nation. Kinder served on the Board of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and as executive secretary for the Missouri State Teachers Association (MSTA). In the 1980’s, President Ronald Reagan appointed Kinder to the National Advisory Committee on Continuing Education and the Board of Foreign Scholarships. Kinder was also appointed to the Education Commission of the States by Missouri Governor Christopher Bond.

Roberzene Price, University City, started her career in education as an elementary school teacher and went on to become a curriculum writer for the St. Louis Board of Education and the instructional coordinator for Eliot Elementary School in St. Louis. Roberzene remains connected to public education as a tutor, mentor and advocate for children.

According to DESE, state education officials have presented the Pioneer in Education awards each year since 1974, honoring teachers, school administrators, citizens and lawmakers for their distinguished careers in and contributions to public education in Missouri.

DESE recognized the 2013 Pioneers during the 52nd annual Cooperative Conference for School Administrators; State Board of Education President Peter F. Herschend and Commissioner Chris Nicastro presented the awards.