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  • Writer's pictureRoger Sims, Journal Staff

Two area educators among four to interview for Prairie View's top post

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

LA CYGNE – Four candidates for the superintendent’s post were interviewed by the Prairie View USD 362 this week, including two candidates who have ties to education in Linn County. One candidate, who was scheduled to interview on Tuesday, withdrew the application

The vacancy for the post occurred after current Superintendent Rex Bollinger announced in January that he was retiring at the end of the school year at the end of June. He said at that time he had taken a superintendent's post in northwestern Missouri.

Joseph Hornback, who is Prairie View’s assistant superintendent and high school principal, interviewed for the post on Thursday, Feb. 23. He has been with the district since 2018.

Pleasanton USD 344 Superintendent Travis Laver also interviewed for the post on Thursday. In December, Laver announced that he was retiring from the Pleasanton district. However, he indicated at that time he planned to continue working in education.

Also interviewed on Thursday was Chris Johnson. She is the superintendent of Crane R-III school district in Crane, Mo.

The board interviewed John Whetzal on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Whetzal is currently superintendent at Riverside USD 114 in Wathena, Kan.

The Prairie View board is expected to make a decision soon.

Hornback, who is also the director of curriculum for the Prairie View district, has earned a doctorate in Education in Leadership and Policy Studies. He also has two master’s of science in education degrees, one in Curriculum and Instruction and the other in School Administration, both from the University of Kansas. He also earned a bachelor’s of education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Chemistry and Physical Science from KU.

Hornback served as president of Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park, Kan., for one year. Prior to that he served as principal for six years and assistant principal for three years at Bonner Springs High School. His other experience includes being a teacher and football coach at Grandview (Mo.) High School and St. Thomas Aquinas High school in Overland Park.

Johnson earned a doctorate and education specialist degrees from the University of Missouri in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. She also has a master’s in Elementary Education from Central Methodist University and a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Mo.

She has served as head of the Crane R-III school district for the last eight years. Prior to that she served as superintendent of the Paris R-II school district in Paris, Mo. She served as a principal at Paris Elementary School for two years, and she taught for 15 years in three different schools in Missouri.

Laver earned his district level certification from Pittsburg State University. He also holds a bachelor’s in Music Education and a master’s in School Administration from Pitt State.

He has held the superintendent’s post at Pleasanton for the last 13 years. Prior to that he served as the technology director at Pleasanton for 15 years while at times serving as interim high school principal. He got his start in education as the instrumental/vocal music instructor and computer applications teacher for four years at Pleasanton.

Whetzal is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Education Leadership at Kansas State University. He has a bachelor of science in Natural Science from Cameron University and a master’s of science for Educational Leadership and Administration from K-State. His district licensure coursework was completed at Pitt State University.

He has served as superintendent at Riverside for the past two years. Previously, he served as superintendent of Barnes-Hanover-Linn USD 223 for 3 years. Prior to that he spent three years working with Frontier Farm Credit.

Whetzal has 10 years experience as a high school principal at Centralia (Kan.) High School in . He has nine years of classroom experience teaching science at Republic County (Kan.) High School and in Lawton and Anadarko, both in Oklahoma.

Editor's note: In an earlier version of this story Joseph Hornback's name was misspelled. We regret the error.

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