2018 Hall of Leaders
Outstanding Retired Educator
Mr. Jerry Hoover
Jerry Hoover served as Director of Bands at Missouri State University in Springfield for 31 years. Jerry personally directed the university’s Symphonic, Jazz and the 300-member Pride Marching Band as well as numerous ensembles. He now holds the title of President Emeritus.
Jerry started his career in the Missouri towns of Cabool and Lebanon before being named Director of Bands for Jefferson City Public Schools in 1969, where he led award-winning Jay Bands until 1977. Jerry’s tenure included achieving national recognition with the Jay Band’s selection to perform and march in the 1976 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California.
That year was a stellar one for the Jay Band under Jerry’s masterful leadership, as other 1976 appearances included representing Missouri at the state’s representative to the Bicentennial Parade of States in Washington, D.C., and a performance at the Missouri Music Educators State Convention. Finally, the 1976 Jay Band was named “Band of the Year” by Missouri Phi Beta Mu.
Jerry’s direction over the years also led to invited performances which took the Jefferson City High School Jazz Band and/or the Jay Band to such far-flung venues as Dallas, Texas, Memphis, Tennessee, Chicago, Illinois, and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Numerous students from Jefferson City who studied under Jerry went on to have professional musical careers as jazz and solo artists including Urbie Green, Ed Shaughnessy, Al Belletto, Bud Brisbois, Rich Matteson, Woody Herman, Bunky Green and George Roberts. However, the positive impact of Jerry Hoover’s 58-year career reaches far beyond those who became professional musicians; his legacy includes thousands of students who benefited from his teaching and leadership at the high school and collegiate levels.
Outstanding Retired Educator
Mrs. Joyce Kaiser (Posthumously)
Joyce Suthoff, a Jefferson City native, graduated from Helias High school in 1965 and Lincoln University in 1969 with degrees in biology and history. Joyce married Charles Kaiser in 1969 then returned to Lincoln to get her teaching certificate before eventually completing her Master and Specialist degrees in Administration at the University of Missouri.
A distinguished thirty-four-year career with the Jefferson City Schools began in 1970 as a 6th-grade teacher at Moreau Heights Elementary and included service as elementary principal at Southwest Elementary beginning in 1987 and concluding as principal of Belair Elementary from 1991 until her 2004 retirement.
Joyce was a believer in mission statements, the obligation of educators to children and their families, and in never asking teachers to do something she would not do herself. She took pride in her students and coworkers and was quick with a compliment.
Joyce was a listener first and had an uncanny way of getting her co-workers to reach their own correct conclusions without telling them what to do. She frequently used examples from her own experience and related funny stories of “what not to do”. One of her favorite sayings to other aspiring administrators was, “You are not really a principal until a teacher follows you into the bathroom continuing the conversation.”
Above all other things, Joyce loved her family and their times together. She knew every good place to eat and shop along I-70 between Jefferson City, Kansas City, and Denver and also earned thousands of frequent flyer miles. Joyce was funny, compassionate and real; she inspired all those that knew her to be better persons.
Brenda Hatfield began her auspicious volunteer career with the Jefferson City Public Schools 16 years ago when her first child began kindergarten at Moreau Heights Elementary. Since that time, she has served two terms as president at each of her children’s elementary, middle and high schools, has been a room mother for Thomas and Georgia’s classes from kindergarten through 5th grade, and held positions on the hospitality, teacher appreciation, fundraising, scholarship and the other committees whenever she was needed.
Brenda’s superb organizational skills have been put to excellent use at the Southwest Early Childhood Center. She annually plans Santa Day – a room party with 200+ participants. However, her love of SWECC is not confined to December, as she has volunteered at SWECC for 6 years helping recruit and train volunteers to help at various events. Brenda co-founded the Cubby PTO to allow community members the opportunity to support Southwest.
Brenda has been a member of the Jefferson City Public School’s City-Wide PTO for 12 years, serving as an officer for seven of those years. She co-chaired the committee to create the City Wide 501(c)(3) ensure that all JCPS PTOs were in compliance with federal and state laws.
Perhaps the biggest benefactor of Brenda’s volunteer efforts over recent years has been the Jefferson City Public Schools Foundation, where she was a 6-year board member and held the offices of President for two years, Secretary, and Princess and Papa Dance Chair. A tireless recruiter, Brenda has a favorite phrase: “I’d like to provide you with an opportunity to serve” . . .and it is remarkably effective.
In 2017, Brenda was a leader on the J+C Bond/Levy Campaign. During the campaign, she recruited and organized volunteers ensuring that the canvassing efforts were successful. Never shying away from volunteering in the trenches herself, she has served as a mentor with the JC Champions and with the Big Brother Big Sisters program, was a Girl Scout troop leader for 6 years and led several committees with Scout Pack 11. Currently, the President of the JCHS Vocal Music Boosters, Brenda continues to be an outstanding volunteer, leader, and advocate for the Jefferson City Public Schools.
Uma Natarajan, a native of Madras, India, is a devoted mother and citizen. Married to her husband Sitaraman for 25 years, they have two children: a daughter, Radhika, in medical school; and a son, Rakesh, a 2018 Jefferson City High School graduate attending Johns Hopkins University.
Uma’s volunteer service has extended over the past 21 years. She worked at an elementary school until 2001 and as a tax advisor for 8 years. For the past five years, Uma has enjoyed working as a library volunteer at both Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Jefferson City High School. Uma loves to cook and always brings treats for the school staff. She goes beyond mere volunteer service at the schools.
Kristen Thurman, JCHS teacher, says of Uma: “Uma is always willing to help. She will do anything to help anyone at any time. She does this without question and without expectations. When looking for material for my AP class, she brought in a box full of materials dating back to the 1980’s with a flash drive with all the materials on it as well. Even after she did all of this, she offered to make copies for me. If you look up the definition of ‘above and beyond,’ Uma would be in the definition.”
Lisa Scroggs, retired JCHS librarian, remembers Uma: “Uma was part of our library family for a good part of my time as JCHS library media specialist—a family that included library staff and all of the wonderful students with whom we shared our days. Anyone who has the privilege of experiencing Uma’s kindness as I did will know what a blessing she is to have as a colleague, mentor, and, friend.”
Uma humbly brightens any place she enters. Without looking for acclaim or notice, she goes about helping others and bringing kindness to those around her. Uma truly has the heart of a volunteer.
Stephanie Johnson is a Jefferson City native and proud graduate of Jefferson City High School. She continued her education with a degree from Columbia College and has spent the past twenty-five years as a leader in advancing non-profit organizations in the Jefferson City community.
As Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club in Jefferson City since 2011, Stephanie leads a team who works closely with at-risk youth to help develop them into responsible adults with the skills and confidence they need to reach their full potential, providing a safe place many kids call “home” in our community.
Using skills honed by her leadership certification from Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program, Stephanie has overseen budgetary growth at the Boys and Girls Club from $300,000 to $1.5 million annually. Concurrently, the Boys and Girls Club expanded the number of children served annually from 140 to over 800, which requires Stephanie to manage a team of over 50 full and part-time staff plus countless volunteers.
Stephanie recently led a successful capital campaign which raised over $3 million to construct a new 18,000 square foot Boys & Girls Club facility. She negotiated contracts for construction of the new facility at Lincoln University, making the Jefferson City Boys & Girls Club the first of its kind to be located on a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) campus.
Stephanie has been recognized for her achievements in many ways, including being named one of the “40 Under 40” by the Jefferson City Business Times in 2006, a 2012 nominee as a Zonta Club Woman of Achievement, and one of the Jefferson City News Tribune’s Fourteen Women in Business to Watch in 2014. Her Jefferson City leadership is not confined to the non-profits Stephanie has served in her professional life, such as United Way, the Samaritan Center and March of Dimes. Stephanie’s rich volunteer experience includes being a founding board member of Dreams to Reality, past President of Jefferson City Rotary West, and numerous committee leadership posts with the Jefferson City Public Schools.
Stephanie and her husband Jake have two sons, Alex and Zach.
Foundation Legacy Donor
The John A. Morris Family
A beloved husband, father and community member, John A. Morris is a particularly appropriate choice to be named the Jefferson City Public School Foundation’s inaugural Legacy Donor. After graduating from Trenton (Missouri) High School in 1945, John continued his education at the University of Missouri, receiving a degree in business and public administration. Always a proud Tiger, John served as President of the Missouri National Alumni Association. He later received an M.B.A. from The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance.
John’s skills, knowledge and heart for the Jefferson City Public Schools led him to serve the district with distinction. He served two terms on the Jefferson City Board of Education, twice being elected as board president. During his tenure, John co-chaired bond issues in both 1969 and 1979.
John had a long career with Central Missouri Trust Company, now Central Bank.
He was an active civic leader in the Jefferson City community, with service on the boards of the Jaycees, Masonic Lodge, and Lion’s Club. He served as president of the Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce in 1954 and as President of the Memorial Community Hospital.
A long-time member of First Presbyterian Church, John loved his family and they were always first in his life. He and his wife of nearly 66 years, Patty, have five children – Sarah, David, Robert, Matthew, and Jane - all of whom graduated from Jefferson City High School.
A plaque outside the newly-established John A. Morris Classroom at the Southwest Early Childhood Center reads, “A life-long learner and an advocate for early education. Dedicated the 17th day of August 2017.” This aptly summarizes the dedication of John A. Morris to early childhood education and the Jefferson City Public Schools.