Former Carthage superintendent returns to town to discuss education plans with district students

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It’s been a few years since he was a Tiger – years spent at the top levels of Missouri education.

“This is a great opportunity to get back in Southwest Missouri and see friends,” explained Dr. Blaine Henningsen, the Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Dr. Blaine Henningsen was back in Carthage this week – an area he knows very well.

Now, the state Assistant Commissioner for College and Career Readiness — before that, he spent seven years as the Carthage R-9 Superintendent. He says that time gave him the background he would need in his current job.

“I didn’t have much experience working with the career side of education,” Henningsen added. “I was mostly a curriculum and assessment person. But when we came here, we had a great career and technical education center and we expanded that.”

He sees big changes happening in the economy and wants to make sure K-12 education is preparing students for those opportunities.

“We know that the workforce out there is changing rapidly with automation, artificial intelligence, robots taking over in some careers. Kids need to skill up, prepare to take on those challenges, new careers, new opportunities.”

He says that could be a college degree. But, other students may want to consider a more direct career path with licensure or certification.

Henningsen say the priority is to look at options early and get the education to make it happen.

“You have to go beyond high school and you have to get something else to prepare yourself for the opportunities that are out there,” said Henningsen.

Dr. Henningsen has been with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for five years. He had been with Carthage seven years before that, and earlier had worked with the Hazelwood School District as both a Principal and Assistant Superintendent.

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