EDITORIAL: Congrats to Ron Lankford on education award

·2 min read

Jul. 29—Congratulations to Ron Lankford on another well-deserved honor. Lankford will join five other educators from across Missouri to be recognized next week with a Pioneer in Education award from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The awards honor teachers, administrators, citizens and lawmakers for distinguished careers and contributions to public education.

In Southwest Missouri, few have served public education as long or as well as Lankford.

He became an assistant high school principal in East Newton before moving to Webb City, where he spent most of his career. As superintendent, a position to which he was named in 1998, Lankford oversaw 13 bond and levy ballot measures to better serve students, started a local scholarship program to receive and distribute local donations to graduates, led an effort to form what was named the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence and worked with Crowder College to secure a campus site in Jasper County, according to information provided by the state education department.

He retired as Webb City's superintendent in 2010, just a year after he was named Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators. He later served as deputy commissioner of financial and administrative services at the state education department, and upon his retirement from that position, he worked for several years as the Joplin School District's chief financial officer before retiring (for the third time) in 2021.

Lankford also has been a longtime partner of The Joplin Globe. Our annual All-Area Academic Excellence Team, which recognizes the best and the brightest graduating seniors in local school districts as well as the teachers who have inspired them, was his vision that he brought to us in the late 1980s. We have honored a team of students every year since, and Lankford has continued to be involved in the program.

Dozens of former colleagues, students and peers praised Lankford on the Globe's Facebook page after the announcement of his award:

—"Nobody more deserving! He still plays such a big part in the community. He was at the open house of the VFW (on Sunday) congratulating the men and women on their beautiful new building."

—"Ron has been a treasure for our community."

—"My wife is a principal in Joplin and has always had nothing but incredible things to say about him."

—"Thanks, Dr. Lankford, for helping and encouraging so many people in our community."

Well said for a job well done.