Dr. P. Joseph Powers '71, '86, majored in history and political science at Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently an assistant professor at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., but before moving to the college level, Powers had a long career as a high school administrator.
“I am most proud of my thirteen years as head principal of two outstanding high schools in the St. Louis area, Affton and Ladue Horton Watkins. In my eight years at Ladue, we more than doubled the size of the advanced placement program and raised the composite ACT score to the highest in the school's history,” he says. “I also gained a great deal from my years as a teacher and dean of faculty at the Stavanger American School in Norway. My time there broadened my perspective and helped make me a more effective educational leader.”
That leadership was evident when Powers received the 2008 John Vaughn Excellence in Education Award from the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. An honor he feels he received due in part to his time at Southeast.
“Southeast gave me the skills and confidence to tackle any challenge I might encounter. I am a firm believer that a person gets out of something what he puts into it; the professors I had at Southeast were committed to helping their students do just that. I am particularly indebted to Professors L. E. Breeze and George G. Suggs of the History Department, whose example, guidance, and friendship helped me to succeed in my professional career,” he says.
While Powers is pleased by the mentors he found at Southeast, he looks to another great leader for his secret to success.
“John Adams said, ‘If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.’ I believe my success as a school leader has stemmed from setting high standards for myself and inspiring others to aim high and achieve their goals,” Power says.
Powers says seeing those achievements is his favorite part of his job.
“As an educator, my biggest reward comes in helping young people learn and develop into productive citizens.”
He isn’t the only person in his family to realize that reward either.
“My wife, Edie, who graduated from Southeast with a degree in elementary education taught for 20 years at the primary grades level in Cape Girardeau, Mo., the Stavanger American School (Norway), and in Clayton, Mo.,” he says. “She later served six years as assistant professor in the MAT program at Truman State University and as an adjunct instructor for Webster University in St. Louis.”
They have two grown daughters. Powers says for fun, he’s spent the last 20 years researching and collecting militaria from the Spanish American War of 1898.
“I initially became interested when I learned that my father's uncle had served in the war and was killed in action in the Philippines. My collection was part of a year-long display at the Soldiers Memorial in St. Louis marking the centennial of the war,” he says.