Columbia Public Schools official Sally Beth Lyon to retire

Thursday, February 20, 2014 | 5:24 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Columbia Public Schools' chief academic officer, Sally Beth Lyon, will retire from her position June 30 to teach at Saint Louis University.

Lyon started working for Columbia Public Schools in 1993 as a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Mill Creek Elementary School. She has also worked as assistant principal at Gentry Middle School and as director of research, assessment and accountability for the district.

She became chief academic officer in 2007, which put her in charge of overseeing the district's curriculum, assessments, counseling and student support programs.

Lyon told her colleagues about her decision in November, but she started thinking about it last summer. She knew she wanted a change, she said, but she also wanted to stay active as an educator.

"Different people have different needs for change," she said. "Of course you look at your financial planning and other life factors. It's all kind of part of a holistic thought process."

Lyon will join SLU's Department of Educational Leadership and Higher Education, where she will teach in the master's and doctoral program. The job will require her to travel to St. Louis, Kansas City, Cape Girardeau and Jefferson City, she said.

Superintendent Chris Belcher's retirement did not factor into her decision, she said.

Lyon said teaching is one of the best jobs anyone could have, and her time at Columbia Public Schools was full of wonderful experiences.

"You are making a thousand decisions a day, and every one is important. It's all about what a student is learning next," she said.

Lyon said she's extremely proud of how the district implemented the Common Core State Standards to prepare for next school year's Smarter Balanced assessments. She also praised the way the district uses technology to enhance learning.

The district will select a new superintendent before beginning the search for Lyon's replacement, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

The chief academic officer reports to the superintendent, Baumstark said, so the district wants the superintendent involved in the hiring process.

"It really wouldn't be fair for us to move forward with selecting someone without the input of the person who will be their direct supervisor," she said.

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