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Hazelwood Superintendent Inspires a Culture of High Expectations and Excellence

State of the District   

The 3rd Annual Hazelwood School District (HSD) State of the District Dinner Meeting was the perfect opportunity to unveil the school district’s new five-year strategic plan. More than 120 parents, school board directors, other elected officials, clergy, school administrators, and key stakeholders filled the room, not only to listen but to consider what one could do in their personal or professional life to help the District to accomplish its’ goals.

Mark Behlmann, HSD board president demonstrated school pride as he welcomed guests, and introduced board members and other elected officials. This was followed by the presentation of the nationally recognized Hazelwood East High School Girls’ Choir, under the direction of Robert Swingler, choir director, who sang a beautiful rendition of “God Bless America.” 

After thanking the choir and dinner sponsors, Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of schools, delivered the anticipated State of the Hazelwood School District presentation. After sharing the new mission statement and vision, she reminded the captive audience that District leaders will hold themselves accountable for setting and maintaining a culture of excellence with high standards in both academics and behavior.

“HSD continues to be a leader among school districts. Thanks to our Board and community leaders our new mission statement says it best, we are creating ‘A Culture of High Expectations and Excellence,’ not only for our students but for school leaders as well,” said Collins-Hart.

She also shared the District’s primary strengths which includes: being fully-accredited; the second largest school district in St. Louis County; seventh largest school district in the state; 1:1 Chromebook technology, and state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) labs and library media centers. She went on to say, that Hazelwood has an innovative eighth-twelfth grade early graduation program; an exemplary alternative education program; and a gifted and talented program which serves 770 students. Collins-Hart also boasted that Hazelwood has an above the state average graduation rate, and the class of 2018 earned $33.3 million in scholarships and contributed 130,432 hours of community service.

She proudly informed on-lookers that the District has been nationally recognized for supporting the whole child by several programs such as, The Leader in Me, Missouri Exemplary Schools at the state and national level, School of Character Promising Practice recognition, and the District has 11 schools that were recognized with Positive Behavior Support Intervention System awards.

The superintendent carefully walked guests through a 2007 newspaper article about the District and its’ surrounding community’s 12-year history of racial and economic divide. She reassured everyone that the Hazelwood NOW plan addresses the shift in demographics, and the growing needs that often come along with our students.

“Opportunities or Threats? How do you view this change in our District? I will answer by borrowing the title of the book that we use to train for our elementary students on what to do in the event of an active intruder, ‘I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared.’ The same manner in which we prepare our children for worst case scenarios, we have examined the threats and will now use them as opportunities to move this District forward. After all, we are better than what others say. We must redefine who we are, then create our own narrative,” Collins-Hart said.

The Hazelwood NOW 2017-2022 Strategic Plan addresses new and innovative educational programming; options and opportunities, and working together with parents, staff, and community to build coalitions and capacity to develop a culture of high expectations and excellence in Hazelwood schools.

The State of the District meeting culminated with guests sharing ideas on what they can do personally or professionally to help support the District’s mission, vision, and values.