Familiar face brings new strategies at Hickman Mills School District

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When Dr. Yolanda Cargile stepped into her new role as the superintendent at the Hickman Mills School District recently, she didn’t need a tour of the buildings.

"I attended Ingles Elementary, Smith Hale Middle School, and graduated from Ruskin High School,” Cargile said.

Since 2015, Dr. Cargile served as the associate superintendent of student services in the district.

"I'm a Hickman Mills graduate, of course I want to see the district back to a level of high-performance,” she said.

Dr. Cargile spelled out two of her major initiatives with FOX 4. The top priority is to regain the district’s full accreditation with the state. Hickman Mills is currently "provisionally accredited" with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Will it happen in a year? No,” she said. “But can we show progress in the year? For sure.”

Dr. Cargile hopes she can lead by example, showing students that the Hickman Mills District can produce the leaders of tomorrow. But she insists it will take a team effort from parents and staff.

"I have a branding slogan I’ve been using,” she said. “Me. You. Us. It starts with me, it starts with you, and collaboratively, it starts with us. My message to students is: be your best you. And I hope that I serve as a role model and motivate them to do that.”

Dr. Cargile is also a big proponent of a new student discipline approach known as "restorative practices." It’s a notion growing in popularity across Missouri and the rest of the nation.

Borrowed from the criminal justice system, it focuses on getting a student who misbehaved, when possible, to spend time with the student who was wronged, or victimized. By hashing out each student’s motivations, intent, and how the misconduct made the students feel afterwards, students are less likely to repeat the bad behavior. The strategy also aims to cut down on out-of-school suspensions.

“If it's just a simple suspension, they could do the same thing the very next day,” Dr. Cargile said. “However, if they're able to hear from the person they offended, the person on the receiving end of their acts, it deters them.”

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