Dr. Landon Gray

Dr. Landon Gray, principal of Cedar Ridge Intermediate School in Branson, plays rock, paper scissors against a student from a safe distance as part of a school competition in 2020.

The Sparta R-3 Board of Education has hired a new superintendent. Dr. Landon Gray will make the move from the Branson School District to Sparta on July 1.

Gray serves as the principal of Ceder Ridge Intermediate School in Branson. The Sparta Board of Education met in special session March 9, to confirm Gray’s hiring.

Gray will replace outgoing superintendent Rocky Valentine, who confirmed the hiring move on the morning of March 12. Branson Public Schools Board of Education records show that the school board confirmed Gray's resignation from Branson on the same day.

Dr. Valentine announced his pending departure in January. He has been hired as an assistant superintendent int he Marshfield R-1 School District.

Gray, 39, served as the principal at Hollister Elementary School for a year and moved to the Branson School District. It was a move back, at the time. His career in education began in 2004, when he started as a physical education teacher at Branson Elementary.

In his time away from the classroom, Gray has worked extensively as a high school basketball official throughout the state. He has officiated many tournament title games and has been selected to officiate Missouri state championship games on multiple occasions.

A native of Ava, Valentine spent his past 11 years as an employee of the Sparta School District. He spent three of those years as a teacher, four years as the principal of Sparta Middle School and the last four years as the superintendent. His last day on the job in Sparta is June 30.

During his time as superintendent, Valentine has had a role in a couple of key projects. The Sparta Early Childhood Center opened in January. In addition to housing a preschool, school district offices and a community meeting room, the building is a FEMA-approved public tornado shelter.

Valentine was also part of a one-to-one technology implementation program, in which every student in the school district is allotted one portable computer that is an integral part of their coursework. 

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