Dr. Gordon Pace (’78): Nationally recognized Ozark Public Schools superintendent
February 11, 2010
Dr. Gordon Pace did not always know that he wanted to be a teacher. When he first decided to attend Evangel University, he planned to study pre-med. However, upon entering his sophomore year, he realized that the medical field was not his true passion and headed on the path toward research in Evangel’s Biology and Chemistry programs.
During his senior year at Evangel, he took an education class for fun and also served as a student aid in a Springfield junior high, which sparked a newfound interest — education.
“Looking back, I think that experience was so positive that it helped me realize that education and teaching might be something to consider, even though it had not been part of my college plan,” says Pace.
During his time at Evangel, he had the opportunity to run cross-country and participate in evangelistic outreaches as a part of the campus ministry organization SCOPE. He also met his wife, Jeannine (Carr), during an open house between dorms. Jeannine was an elementary education major, and they dated throughout their sophomore, junior and senior years.
Pace graduated from Evangel in 1978, completing a degree in Biology. After graduation, he felt confirmation that life science research was not for him and was inspired by his wife’s vocation as a teacher to return to school and study education.
He went on to pursue his Master of Arts from Western Michigan University and his Doctor of Education from the University of Missouri Columbia.
Since 2005, Dr. Pace has served as the superintendent of Ozark Public Schools. He has worked hard to move the district ahead in curriculum and instructional technology.
Dr. Pace attended the 2009 Teacher Leader Institute and North American Leadership Academy in Washington D.C., where he received, on June 12, the Reading Recovery Teacher Leader Award.
“I was surprised and honored to receive the Reading Recovery Award, since you have to be nominated by teachers and administrators from your district to be considered,” Pace said.
The Award recognizes people who are committed to expanding Reading Recovery and maintaining its high standards. Nominees are judged based on the documentation supporting that the nominee is committed to expanding Reading Recovery and maintaining its high standards, and that the nominee has made significant contributions to Reading Recovery implementation beyond the local level.
“The experience of going to Washington D.C. for the National Conference was a highlight of my career,” Pace said. “I was given the opportunity to address the convention during the award ceremony, which was an outstanding experience!”
Prior to his time in Ozark, Dr. Pace served as superintendent of Reeds Spring School District. He was a member of the administrative team for Springfield Public Schools and served as president of Missouri Association of School Administrators Southwest Region. He has also taught graduate and doctoral school administration classes for Evangel University and Lindenwood University.
“In a public school setting, you have to let your faith be known by your works and your life, not necessarily preaching,” Pace said. “I believe that your faith guides your decision-making, your leadership style, how you deal with people in an ethical and respectful manner, and the care you have for others, especially the students in your care.”
Dr. Pace feels that Evangel has had a great impact on his life, from something as simple as learning to do his own laundry, the self-discipline from leaving home and having to make your own decisions, to the Christ-centered teaching and the excellent faculty who served as great mentors.
Dr. Pace’s fondest memories of Evangel are of sitting around the cafeteria table after meals with friends from Krause, participating in intramurals, and having a built-in set of friends while living in the dorms. He also enjoyed walking to classes through the enclosed walkways between the barracks — especially during bad weather — and huddling next to a radiator in class trying to stay warm while taking notes. Regarding his time at Evangel, Pace feels that there was a great variety of spiritual guidance that forced him to think things through on his own, come to terms with what he personally believed, and helped him to grow as an individual.
“Some of the guidance was the same as I had been taught in my father’s church, some a bit different and some quite challenging to my beliefs,” Pace said. “Evangel gave me a solid Christian foundation that carries through my vocational journeys in terms of ethical behavior, treatment and respect for others, and compassion for children in schools.”
The Paces have been married for 31 years. They reside in Ozark, Mo., and attend James River Assembly of God. Their two children, Jennifer and Suzanne, are Evangel alumnae.
“We ended up returning to Southwest Missouri, after several years in Michigan, mostly due to the great experience we both had at Evangel in our undergraduate years,” Pace said.