Dr. Josh Teeter

Dr. Teeter advances as principal of Poplar Bluff Middle School
Posted on 08/23/2020
Dr. Josh Teeter

Dr. Josh Teeter joined the Poplar Bluff School District so he can be a part of an active professional learning community, he reflected.

Now, two years after serving as assistant principal at Junior High, he is ready to make his mark by leading a building.

Teeter has been hired to succeed Dr. Brad Owings as principal of the Poplar Bluff Middle School for the 2020/21 academic year.

“Poplar Bluff, in my opinion, is a shining beacon in Southeast Missouri,” Teeter said.

While leaving the Cooter R-IV School District was bittersweet, commented Teeter, having served as a High School principal after teaching history for over a decade, he was unable to collaborate as he desired, not having a social studies department, coming from a much smaller school system.

The Steele native had his eye on R-I, having participated in the doctoral program here through a partnership with Lindenwood University, based in St. Charles. When initially hired at Junior High in 2018, Teeter had a goal of reducing discipline, since addressing student behavior was one of his primary responsibilities under Principal Candace Warren.

Junior High office referrals were effectively reduced by more than 60 percent, from 2,776 during 2018/19 to 1,088 last school year. Teeter attributes most of the success to the teaching staff handling more behavioral issues directly inside the classroom environment. Warren says Teeter was instrumental last summer in helping her to devise a system of major and minor incidents, a best practice under the School-wide Positive Behavior Support program implemented at the elementary level.

“[Mr. Teeter is] always striving to do better and excels at any task put before him,” Warren said. “I’ve worked in this building for 25 years and he is one of, if not the best, assistant principals I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Teeter hopes to take with him Warren’s knack for community engagement and organizing PLC teams to the Middle School, he noted. Both agreed they looked forward to the potential for horizontal networking between school facilities.

"As a building leader, I think he's going to knock it out of the park," Warren continued. "He's a natural-born leader who is intelligent, humorous and data-driven."

Missouri Assessment Program testing is already on the upswing at the Middle School, as gains were made in both English language arts and mathematics, along with all subgroups, from 2018 to 2019. Teeter plans to continue the good work, strengthening the collaborative culture established there. He pointed out that it is important to look at what larger case studies say about education, not just the trends.

While Teeter says many leaders spend a year getting acquainted with the system, he is too anxious to wait that long to delve in at the Middle School. He knows the job comes with some busywork that requires him to be in the office but, Teeter said, he would look for opportunities to walk the halls to see what the students are engaged in.

He is currently researching ways to make the large upper elementary school feel smaller, such as introducing a house system or a school within a school, but he will not make any decisions without first consulting with the teachers, whom he called the real experts.

“The art and science of teaching are very important to me,” Teeter stated. “While I miss being in the classroom, I feel as a principal you’re still teaching. You’re coaching educators, and teaching kids in a different way.”


Cutline: Two years after joining the Poplar Bluff administrative team, Dr. Josh Teeter was promoted as principal of Middle School to succeed Dr. Brad Owings, who transferred outside of the district.

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