Pictured above: Dr. Tracey Hankins addresses an audience of students, staff, and community members at a recent assembly featuring a Holocaust Survivor and author.
Since June 2015, Dr. Tracey Hankins has presided as the superintendent of the Gasconade CO R-1 School District. In recent days, however, Hankins has announced her retirement after 30 years of working in education. While the Hermann area was the last stop in Hankins’s extensive career, she managed to lead the community through an intense tax levy and implement new technology and programs throughout the school district. While her career in education has covered the last 30 years, her love for education itself started many years ago.
“[I’ve wanted to be in education] since I was five years old,” said Hankins. “My aunt was a kindergarten teacher and I wanted to be just like her and my first teaching job was kindergarten.”
Dr. Hankins received her bachelor’s and master’s from Missouri State, her specialist degree from the University of Missouri, and her doctorate from Lindenwood.
¨She's been a lifelong learner,¨ said social studies teacher, Leah Lerbs. “She has been through a classroom to administration and she is always doing the research and education for herself. She has brought us information about what it is like to go to the four day [school] week, which she found at her previous district was a great asset for them. She continues to better herself and better our school. She totally embodies the idea that education is truly life itself.”
Being both a teacher and a parent showed Hankins the importance of continuously improving education for all students. Because of that, like previously stated, she worked to pass a tax levy increase for the surrounding areas in order to get more funding for the necessities needed throughout the district, whether it be for transportation costs or new technology. While that has been the highlight of her career at the Gasconade Co. R 1 School District, her personal favorite achievement took place several years ago.
“[My proudest achievement as an educator] was that my first ever kindergarten class invited me to come back and speak at their high school graduation. I was not even working in that district and I only had for three years. So I had left and ten years later they invited me to come back,” Hankins recalled. “It was very touching.”
“I think my biggest hope is that the good things that we have started, that those will be seamless in being carried through so that all of our work, and when I say ‘our,’ I am not talking about mine- I am talking about everyone in the community: to the kids, to the teachers - that the work continues and that we can continue to get better,” she added.
When it comes to providing students with advice for how to succeed and be happy, Dr. Hankins encourages everyone to follow their dreams.
“I’ve been doing this for thirty years and I've never had a job I didn't love. I think that's because I followed my heart and I trusted in a higher power that things were right thing and that it was always the right job. When people or students wonder, ‘What am I going to do?’ I could say that ever since I was little, I wanted to be a teacher, but when I went in to college, I was going to be a business major because I was constantly told that I did not want to be in education because teachers never make any money. Then I realized that I needed to follow my heart because it isn't about the money. So that is what I always tell people:Do what you love.”
Pictured above: In the 2018 Hermann Senior class, there are several students wishing to pursue a career in education. Their contributions to the educational world will be reflections of their education received at Hermann High and beyond.