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Eakins Named Executive Director of Special Services; Simpson to Retire

The Ozark Board of Education, at its Jan. 19 meeting, voted to hire Dr. Laura Eakins as executive director of special services for the 2023-24 school year. 

Eakins has 24 years of experience in education and has served Ozark as director of interventions for two years, overseeing the English Language Learners program, 504 services and Response to Intervention (RTI). She joined Ozark School District in 2015 as the assistant director of Tiger Paw Early Childhood Center then became the director in 2016. Prior to Ozark, she worked at Branson, Strafford and Nixa school districts.

“I am very honored to be a part of the Ozark School District, and I recognize that it’s a privilege to serve the students in our district,” she said. “I look forward to collaborating and working with staff, students and families in this role to create lifelong skills and opportunities for every learner.”

Assistant Superintendent of Learning Dr. Craig Carson said considering Eakins’ background, it is a natural fit for her to oversee special services.

“Dr. Eakins has a vast knowledge of the special education world through her k-12 teaching background as well as leadership roles,” he said. “She clearly has a passion for helping students and families. This combined with her background will allow her to help adapt to the changing needs of students.” 

Eakins earned her undergraduate degree in Communication Science and Disorders and a Master’s Degree in Speech/Language Pathology, both from Missouri State University. She also obtained her Master’s in Educational Administration – Special Education and her Doctorate Degree in Education Leadership, both from William Woods University.

As Executive Director of Special Services, Eakins will oversee gifted education, special education, process coordinators and therapists across the district. 

Eakins will replace longtime Tiger Jeff Simpson, who is retiring at the end of this school year after 30 years. Simpson spent his entire education career in Ozark serving in many different roles including as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, director of the alternative school, principal and, finally, executive director of special education, where he has served since 2015. 

“Mr. Simpson has been a vital part of the Learning Division team as a building principal and executive director of special services,” Carson said. “His ability to work with parents and staff has been a model for all of us and will be greatly missed.”

Eakins will step into her new role July 1, 2023.