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District welcomes new superintendent

The North County School District will start off the 2019 school year with a new superintendent, according to an official press release from the district on Friday.

This decision came after several groups of people, both for and against hiring outside of the district, were able to address the North County Board of Education through a spokesperson during a special session on Nov. 26. This address was followed by a vote of the board.

As a result of that vote, North County will be welcoming Dr. Nicholle “Nicki” Ruess as the new superintendent at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Ruess is currently the assistant superintendent for Teaching, Learning, and Student Services at the Festus R-VI School District, and has been working as an educator for 24 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from University of Central Missouri, a Masters in Educational Administration from Southwest Baptist University, an Educational Specialist degree from Missouri Baptist University, and a Doctor of Education degree from Missouri Baptist University.

Ruess’ time at Festus R-VI has been productive, as the district has attained numerous awards and recognition toward academic performance under her period as administrator. North County Board President Kasey Jenkins believes that Ruess will come to North County “with a wealth of experience and an accomplished educational leader.” Jenkins states that Ruess’ educational background in communications, academics, facilities, and finance will serve her well in her upcoming position in the North County School District.

While a majority of her time has been spent at the Festus School District, Ruess and her family are no strangers to North County. Ruess worked as the North County Primary School principal from 2010-2012, and her two children were students in the school district, with her oldest having graduated in 2016, and her youngest starting as a freshman this year.

“I am excited and humbled to be selected as the next superintendent of schools for North St. Francois County,” Ruess said. “My family and I live in the R-1 District and are proud to be part of the community.

“In the days and weeks ahead, I look forward to meeting with parents, students, staff, patrons, and community leaders in an effort to begin learning more about ways we can collaboratively continue to enhance our school district.”

The school district’s current superintendent, Dr. Yancy Poorman, will be retiring on June 30, at the end of the fiscal school year.

Poorman announced his resignation at the Bonne Terre Chamber of Commerce general investors luncheon on Aug. 22.

“I appreciate all of the years in the community … but I want to be retired,” he said during the luncheon. “I have put my heart and soul into it and we have done a lot of things.”

Poorman has decided that this is the right year to retire because his son will be graduating high school in May and going off to college. Though there were many factors that played into his retirement, he said that the biggest drive was his desire to be close to and spend time with his son. Ideally, life after retirement for Dr. Poorman would include doing “as little as possible,” though he has expressed interests in possibly exploring other career fields. According to him, however, he sees most of his time spent following and supporting his son’s college baseball career. His experience at the North County School District has been a wonderful one for him and his family, he said, and he is thankful to everyone in the school community that made it that way.

“It is bittersweet. I look forward to my retirement, but it is hard to let go of something you committed 13 years of your professional life to,” Poorman said.

He also detailed many of the district’s advances that had become possible under his leadership, such as a new auditorium at the preschool and the multi-purpose buildings. He said that everyone should be proud of the school system for all it has been able to accomplish.

The district’s Board of Education believes that Ruess will be a fitting replacement for Poorman, and that she will carry on improvements within the school district.

“We look forward to working with her to continue the many positive programs and projects going on at North County,” the press release stated. “We look to her leadership moving forward to enhance the district even further in the years to come.”

An informal “meet-and-greet” will be held in the near future, according to the official press release, and the school community will be invited to attend.



Rachel Gann is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached 573-518-3617 or at

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