This month’s alumni spotlight highlights four Leadership Springfield Signature Class graduates who are running in the upcoming April election for the Springfield Public Schools Board of Education: Brandi VanAntwerp, Danielle Kincaid, Daniel Ogunyemi, and Scott Crise. We hope this helps you make an informed vote at the polls on April 6!
Brandi VanAntwerp (Signature Class 33) is a grant administrator at CoxHealth Foundation who brings a passion for helping others to the pool of candidates. As a childhood survivor of domestic violence, Brandi has been inspired to take an active role in non-profit support since she was 12 years old. Today she is the mother of 4 boys (2 biological, 2 foster), and she credits their school experiences with her deep appreciation of the Springfield Public School (SPS) system and its staff. Brandi’s oldest son is a twice exceptional student, both gifted and behaviorally challenged, and through his experiences Brandi and her family gained the tools needed to advocate for exceptional students. One of her foster children also has Type 1 Diabetes, which has shown them the exceptional work of SPS school nurses. Brandi hopes that what she has learned about listening, collaboration, and empathy through these experiences will allow her to help others in the school system to have the tools they need to advocate for their own children.
Brandi is a Springfield native, and a self-professed “North-side kid, South-side mom.” She attended Watkins Elementary in Springfield as a child, and has seen first hand some of the inequities that exist within the system. If elected, Brandi would like to continue the equity and inclusion movement within SPS, and expand great programs like the College & Career Academy to more locations throughout the city, making them accessible to a wider range of students. She is currently a member of the Friends of SPS Committee and the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO).
Danielle Kincaid (Signature Class 35) is a partner at the Elder Law Group in Springfield, and an MSU grad, who has discovered a passion for kids and education through her work with the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools Board. Danielle is from South Kansas City (Raymore), and practiced law in Omaha before deciding that Springfield was where she wanted to call home. Danielle has lived in Springfield since 2013, and has a heart and passion for our community. Her desire to focus her efforts where she could make the most difference led her to the race for school board. If elected, she hopes to address the social and mental wellbeing of students and to provide resources for teachers for the return to school after COVID-19.
Danielle hopes to use her skills as an attorney to benefit the board. She is confident that her ability to analyze and condense information, along with her skills as a mediator in reaching middle ground, would be an asset to the board. As a small business owner that has navigated the challenges of the pandemic, she also brings to the table experience with budgeting and resilience in the face of adversity. Danielle wants SPS to have strong schools. She has observed how vital the schools are to the entire community, beyond just parents and students, in the wake of COVID-19. She is dedicated to equipping teachers for a strong recovery in the days ahead.
Daniel Ogunyemi (Signature Class 36) is blazing a trail as the first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC). He is a Louisiana native who studied Psychology at Southwest Baptist University while on a basketball scholarship, and received a Masters in Clinical Mental Health from Evangel University. Daniel’s passion for mental health has grown over the years to include child welfare, helping individuals with disabilities, and most recently, diversity and inclusion. At their core, Daniel believes these areas are all connected – they involve relationship building, identifying barriers, and addressing the barriers. The key to his role – listening to people and making them feel valued.
Daniel is a father to a 2-year-old son, his inspiration for a school board run. Daniel hopes to do all that he can to make things better now for future generations. If elected, he would like to see Springfield Public Schools become an environment that is ever more inclusive of marginalized groups, a place where students and staff can show up as their full selves. He would like to focus on the mental health of children and teachers, and to change perceptions surrounding the North versus South Springfield mentality. Daniel’s hope is to be a representative to all, and to lend his enthusiasm for people and the community to the school board in an effort to inspire others to take action as well.
Scott Crise (Signature Class 16) is the Manager of Technical Services at Associated Electric Cooperative, a Chicago native, and a proud father of two SPS Alumni. His passion for Springfield Public Schools has developed over the past 21 years as he and his wife made Springfield their family’s home. They were active members of the PTA at Sequiota Elementary, Pershing Middle School, and Glendale High School as their daughters progressed through the school system. Scott credits this active support with the relationships he has built with teachers and school administration. He has been a member of the Foundation for SPS Board of Directors, and a co-chair of the development committee. Scott is proud of the work he has already put into building up our schools, including founding the Watchdog Dads program, and helping to start the Back to School campaign.
If he is elected, Scott believes that his project management and strategic planning experience will serve the school board well. He is eager to work with the new Superintendent to evaluate and develop strategic long term plans, ask tough questions, and use data to identify any gaps that may exist. Scott is already communicating with teachers about what they feel are key issues that they face. He hopes to address mental health and wellness issues in particular, and to ensure that teachers are equipped with the resources they need to return to in-person learning post COVID-19.