On Monday, March 7, 2022, the Association of Defense Communities (ADC) announced that Waynesville R-VI School District superintendent Dr. Brian Henry was selected as a 2022 Defense Community Champion. This is the first year of this awards program and the committee selected 10 individuals for recognition from a record number of nominations.
Henry was nominated by Sustainable Ozarks Partnership executive director Dorsey Newcomb who has worked with Henry throughout his seven years as superintendent, including the three years Henry served simultaneously as chair for the SOP.
Henry’s selection as Defense Community Champion recognizes his outstanding leadership, professionalism, dedication, compassion, and the positive impact he’s had on the quality of life for countless service members and their families for many years.
“The Waynesville R-VI School District is one of the most influential quality of life aspects in the Fort Leonard Wood (FLW) community. It is very common for service members and their families, from all branches of service, to accept assignments to the installation and remain in the area after leaving military service,” said Newcomb.
His hard work has resulted in the district's academic performance rivaling those of the highest performing school districts in Missouri. Under his leadership, the district has consistently posted its highest Annual Performance Report scores, for which he very humbly gives all the credit to the outstanding staff, parents, and students in the district, which is made up of 75% military-connected children.
Henry has ensured that Waynesville High School continues to expand its rigor through Advanced Placement courses and implemented a program where students who take the AP exam receive $100 for each score of 3 or higher. Career technical education has also expanded with programs for diesel mechanics and cosmetology being offered to high school students under his direction.
“While academics are what we are here for, three things stand out about Dr. Henry’s leadership. First, he led us through the pandemic and kept students learning through overnight implementation of virtual learning. He ensured that our students were able to continue to learn and connect with their teachers, even during the early days of the pandemic," says Board of Education president Paul Shultz. “The second thing that I admire is how Dr. Henry continuously promotes and celebrates our district’s diversity and inclusion. Third, he recently led our community through a tax levy increase for the first time in 60 years.”
When the threat of losing $8.5 million in B-2 Heavily Impacted Aid, Henry championed the need for a 20-cent tax levy increase, which voters overwhelmingly passed. “Had we not passed that tax levy, our district would have already fallen out of eligibility for B-2 Heavily Impacted Aid,” Shultz said. “We put off asking voters for as long as we possibly could, but his leadership and that single vote have brought in more than $25,500,000 in B-2 aid and, among other things, made the district's recent middle school capital project possible.”
Henry and his team successfully applied for Defense Community Infrastructure Program funding, resulting in the remodeling of the district's Parker Fine Arts Center, which will increase its capacity for pre-school offerings and reduce the wait list for military families and local children. Additionally, Henry led the district through two comprehensive school improvement (strategic) plans and serves as a strong advocate for the Professional Learning Community (PLC) process. Currently, he serves as the State of Missouri Chairman of the Military Interstate Child Compact Commission.
“Dr. Henry's philosophy is always to do what is best for kids and he’s never bashful about his pride of his students, teachers, and staff and what they have achieved. Dr. Henry is exceptionally deserving of being recognized as a Defense Community Champion. His impact on our community and military service members and their families is consistent with the highest ideals of what the Association of Defense Communities promotes and celebrates,” said Newcomb.
The ADC will present the 2022 Defense Community Champion awards during the Defense Community National Summit in Washington, D.C. Henry’s story will also be featured in various ADC media in the coming weeks.