UPDATE: Ben Tilley in line to succeed Stiepleman in Columbia schools

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:52 p.m. CDT; updated 6:51 a.m. CDT, Friday, April 25, 2014

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comments from April Ferrao and Jan Mees.

COLUMBIA — Ben Tilley, the district's Title I supervisor, will be recommended to the Columbia School Board to become assistant superintendent of elementary education.

If approved by the board next month, Tilley will succeed Peter Stiepleman, who will become the district's superintendent July 1.

Tilley said Thursday that he intends to carry out Stiepleman's goals, in particular closing gaps among students in academic achievement, opportunity and enrichment.

The achievement gap is the difference between underperforming students and those who excel. The opportunity gap includes the difference in students' access to school and basic education. The enrichment gap is the difference in students' access to activities outside of the core subjects.

Tilley, 57, has worked in the Columbia district for 18 years: as principal of Ridgeway Elementary School from 2009 to 2013; as assistant director of research, assessment and accountability for the district from 2008 to 2009; as assistant principal and, later, principal of Fairview Elementary School from 1998 to 2008; and as a second-grade teacher at Fairview from 1996 to 1998.

Tilley also serves as an adjunct faculty member at MU and Columbia College, teaching courses in public schools and education.

April Ferrao, a parent and volunteer at Ridgeway, said she thinks Tilley will be great in the new role.

"He is great about listening to parents' concerns and any issues that might come about," Ferrao said. When Tilley was principal at Ridgeway, Ferrao said, she met with him two to three times a week to plan the school's annual fundraiser and thought Tilley was very approachable.

Tilley was raised in south-central Missouri, near Fort Leonard Wood, where his father was stationed. Tilley moved to Columbia in 1979 to work at Nowell's Grocery Store, starting on the night shift as a merchandise stocker and working up to operations manager.

School board member Jan Mees, who has known Tilley since he began teaching at Fairview, said she thinks his position "will use a lot of his experience to make him a very strong leader.".

Tilley said he uses his business and education experience every day in his oversight of Title I budgeting and programs and is looking forward to applying it to the assistant superintendent's duties.

"Mr. Tilley's experiences with Title and non-Title schools, combined with his data and business background, create an opportunity for seamless and successful transition," Stiepleman said in a news release.

Tilley earned master's and specialist's degrees in administration from William Woods University in 1999 and 2004. He earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Columbia College in 1996.

If the school board approves Tilley's appointment, he will start the new role July 1 and will no longer be the district's Title I supervisor or its director of summer school programs, spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said.

Tilley's recommendation will be included in the consent agenda at the school board's May 12 meeting, Baumstark said. That means his appointment will not be independently considered unless a board member makes that request. The board will meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Aslin Administration Building, 1818 W. Worley St.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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