Benjy Fenske has worn many hats over the years, but he’s about to put on the largest of them all as the new superintendent of the Clever School District.
“I’ve always joked that I’ve done everything but drive a bus or be a superintendent,” Fenske told the Christian County Headliner News, chuckling. “Now that I’m superintendent though, I don’t think I’m going to go get my license.”
Fenske began his career in education as a business teacher in his hometown of Piece City. He also served as the FBLA sponsor, as well as the coach for the girls’ volleyball team and basketball team, which he takes pride in leading to the final four.
After receiving his master’s degree from Missouri State University, Fenske earned the position of Clever’s middle school principal in 1999. He’s served as Clever’s director of elementary education for about the last six years. July 1, Fenske will replace Steve Carvajal and take on the role of superintendent.
“It’s always been a goal,” Fenske said. “I just want an opportunity to help the school district.”
Richard Henson retired as Clever’s superintendent June 30, 2015, according to Headliner News archives. That was when Fenske began to think more seriously about the opportunity to become the district’s leader, he said. Instead, Dec. 14, 2014, it was announced Carvajal would take the position.
“Then, I had the second opportunity with Mr. Carvajal moving,” Fenske said, noting his predecessor’s new position in the Schuyler County School District in northern Missouri.
Fenske’s hiring was approved Feb. 4 by the school board. He looks forward to concentrating on the district’s growth, as well as holding on to quality teachers.
“We have to keep our eyes focused on the future because of the amount of growth we’re going to have,” Fenske said. “And the number one goal for any school district is to make sure you recruit and retain good teachers and also have a strong administration team in place. Those are two things you just have to have.”
He mentioned the likes of a long-range planning committee.
“I think that’s going to be one of the first things we want to do,” Fenske said, noting a task force will hopefully come together as soon as this fall. “We’re in a spot where we’re going to have to make some big decisions on what we want this district to look like.”
That includes adding or developing programs like football and junior high softball.
“I’ve been here 20 years and we’ve added so many programs,” Fenske said. “You’ve got to make sure you have the facilities and you’ve got to have the quality coaches in place if we want to compete.”
He also wants to explore ways of building leadership skills in even the smallest of students.
“At the pre-k building, we’re looking at Leader in Me,” Fenske said. Leader in Me is an evidence-based, comprehensive school improvement model, according to its website. “It really involves a connection between teachers and students.”
Fenske said, most of all, he’s excited to continue working with the colleagues he’s come to know as family.
“We’ve truly got a lot of great people in place here. I wouldn’t trade them for anybody,” Fenske said. “They’re just quality people that care about kids. When you have that as your bae, you can accomplish anything.”
Fenske lastly thanked the Clever community for the many well wishes he’s received in the last few days.
“I’m very thankful that the community supports the schools and the great kids inside the walls.”