School & District Management

Jennings, Mo., Schools Chief Who Focused on Poverty Moving to Topeka, Kan.

By Denisa R. Superville — January 25, 2016 1 min read
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Tiffany Anderson, who leads the Jennings, Mo., school district in St. Louis County and has spearheaded a number of programs to address the out-of-school-needs of children in poverty, will become the new superintendent of Topeka, Kan., schools.

Anderson starts the job on July 1, and will remain in Jennings until then to help train her replacement. She has been in Jennings, a high-poverty community that borders Ferguson, for less than four years.

Under Anderson’s team, the district regained its accreditation in 2015. The district also started a food pantry for many of the community’s low-income families; put washers and dryers in schools; and added a clothing boutique that provided things like jackets and socks to students. Late last year, the district started a foster home to provide shelter for homeless students.

Anderson, who was one of Education Week‘s 2015 Leaders to Learn From, has received national attention for her approach to educating children in poverty.

She will be paid $215, 000 to lead the 14,000-student Topeka school district—$55,000 more than the district’s outgoing superintendent.

The Topeka district—where the landmark school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka originated—is predominantly African-American and Hispanic and faces challenges similar to the ones Anderson tackled in Jennings. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Anderson will be the first African-American woman to hold the superintendent’s job in Topeka.

The job will cut Anderson’s commute. She frequently drove from her home in suburban Kansas City, Kan., to Jennings.

“Although I love my Jennings family, expanding services to the underserved in Kansas is a necessary step in contributing to making a better history for all children,” Anderson said in announcing her impending departure.

Photo caption: Tiffany Anderson. Photo by Swikar Patel/Education Week

A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.