How rebranding has this superintendent living in the moment—for now

Sharing a common purpose—and a common mascot—has had wider impacts on academics and even building design in Missouri's Grandview C-4 School District, Superintendent Kenny Rodrequez attests

If you can imagine feeling more like a Bulldog than a Meadowlark, then you can begin to recognize how rebranding gave Missouri’s Grandview C-4 School District an even stronger sense of community. The unifying mascot, which was adopted from the high school and middle school to all of the district’s elementary schools, has had wider impacts on academics and even building design, Superintendent Kenny Rodrequez attests.

Kenny Rodrequez
Kenny Rodrequez

“It feels like we are united as a community more so than we ever have been,” says Rodrequez, who has led the district for eight years and was named Missouri’s 2024 Superintendent of the Year. “It’s bringing us all together around a common purpose and a common understanding … in a way that maybe we didn’t have before.”

The school rebranding process began with “a lot of conversations with a lot of people,” he points out. From staff to families and beyond, stakeholders were asked about what distinguished Grandview C-4 schools and where the district was excelling.

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“There wasn’t a unified answer—everybody had different looks at it so it was hard for us to truly determine what our identity was,” he notes. “So we started talking to a lot of community members about how do we unite around a common purpose.”

One of the pillars that emerged, and became part of the district’s mission statement, was developing future-ready students. Previously, that focus did not extend beyond high school as other educators saw their role as moving students up to the next grade rather than preparing them for college and careers.

“This was something our community and teachers rallied around,” Rodrequez points out. “Preparing students for their future may just be kindergarten or first grade.”

Then there was the district’s family of mascots. While the high school and middle school communities knew themselves as the Grandview Bulldogs, the district’s five elementary schools had five different identities. Surprisingly, he adds, there was little pushback to changing everyone over to the Bulldogs, as evidenced by T-shirts, stickers and other enthusiasm students displayed once the shift was finalized.

“They didn’t see themselves as that other identity—’I don’t really see myself as a Meadowlark,'” he explains. “They could rally behind everybody being a Bulldog because that’s what they see themselves as in middle school and high school.”

School rebranding also jibed with the district’s wide-ranging construction projects, which were funded by Grandview’s largest-ever bond approval—$45 million—in 2021. It allowed to planners to use the same logo and color scheme as they built a new gymnasium and redesigned CTE facilities, cafeterias and band rooms. Finally, the reinvigorated spirit of unity has filtered into the classroom via a districtwide focus on literacy, which has driven three years of growth. The number of students reading on grade level has risen to over 60% from just under 30%.

Rodrequez says he is trying to savor the success as the construction projects—and the rebranding—are now largely completed. “You’re constantly looking three to four years down the road and hoping to get there,” he concludes. “I’m excited about the next phases but I’m still living in the moment of this; it’s a really great year to live through.”

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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