Willard North Elementary Principal Amanda Hambey strives to have a personal relationship with every student she serves. That’s why she met one-on-one with each student when she took on her leadership role at the school. One of the key messages she shares with her students is about success. She stresses that life and career success have more to do with relationships than going to an expensive college.
“I tell them, it’s what you put into it and those connections you make,” she said. “I just have a broad spectrum of mentors and people who I’ve connected with and asked for help along the way.”
If Amanda made a family tree of those connections, the roots of that tree would be firmly planted at Ozarks Technical Community College. She began studying Early Childhood Development during her senior year of high school at Walnut Grove in 2001. Following that experience, she knew she wanted to become an elementary teacher, so she completed an associate degree at OTC.
“The start I got at OTC sparked me to continue my education journey,” Amanda said. “I’m 36 and I’m still in school.”
Amanda hopes to soon become “Doctor Hambey” as she pursues a Doctorate of Education from Southwest Baptist University. Along the way, she’s earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Missouri State University and an education specialist credential from SBU. Despite all of that education, Amanda has zero college debt.
“I had scholarships that paid for my entire OTC education,” Amanda said. “Then, I only had two years at Missouri State, and we’ve been paying for my graduate school as we go. I’ve been fortunate.”
Along the way, this wife and mother of two has taught preschool, elementary school, and she has also served as an assistant principal in Springfield elementary schools. Now, she has what she describes as her dream job leading Willard North Elementary. Besides meeting with each student, she also reads to every class at the beginning of each school year. Recently, Amanda went back to where it all began for her and spoke to first-year early childhood development students at OTC.
“I told them, number one, you have to have a passion. Then, it’s lots of hard work,” Amanda said. “You can’t just snap your fingers and be where you want to be.”