Six Candidates Vie For Three R-IX Board Seats

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Six Warsaw School Board candidates have been certified to run for three open seats on April 7, 2020. Those elected to the seats will serve three-year terms. Three candidates are currently incumbents, running to remain on the board for another term. They are Tracey Spry, Drew Burdick and Dr. Amie Breshears. New candidates are Mac Vorce, Leslie Grace and Reba Slavens.
The role of the District’s Board is to govern the community’s public schools by making the major decisions for the District. It works together as a team with the Superintendent in the best interest of the District’s students.  The Board is accountable to the public by fulfilling five responsibilities. 1) Setting the strategic direction for the District; 2) Establishing a system of District policies and rules; 3) Overseeing the employment of the Superintendent; 4) Exercising final decision-making authority for Board matters; and 5) Serving as a liaison between the District and the community.
Brief biographies of the candidates are provided in the order that they will be listed on the April 7th  ballot.
Tracey Spry, is currently the Board President and is running for a third term on the Board. She  graduated from Warsaw High School (WHS) in 1989, and was involved in Yearbook, Math Club, National Honor Society and many other activities. She was also selected to attend Missouri Girls State.  She graduated with honors from Missouri State University’s College of Business Administration in Springfield, with a BS degree in Accounting in 1992. She received her CPA certification from the Missouri State Board of Accountancy in 1996. After college, Spry worked for Tashler & Associates in Shawnee, Kansas, and then for Boan & Connealy CPA’s in Overland Park, Kansas. After gaining valuable experience, she moved back to Benton County and married her high school boyfriend, Jerry Spry, and started her own business, Tracey Spry & Associates, CPA PC.
Spry and her husband have two daughters attending WHS. Taylor is a junior and Ashley is a freshman. Spry is currently involved with the Benton County Community Foundation, Benton County Early Childhood Development, and Warsaw Main Street. She attends Cedar Grove Baptist Church.  In her spare time, she enjoys beach vacations, spending time with family, and relaxing by the pool.
Andrew “Drew” Burdick is a current School Board incumbent. He and his family moved to Warsaw in 2012 from the Springfield area. He is currently the Hatchery Manager at Lost Valley Hatchery for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and has worked for the State for 14 years. He graduated from Marshfield High School in 2000, then attended both South West Baptist University and Missouri Valley College where he played football. Afterwards, he transferred to Missouri State University earning a degree in Wildlife Conservation Management. He began working for MDC in 2006 in Warsaw, commuting from Springfield until 2012. His wife, Jessica, is a Dental Hygienist at Katy Trail Community Health in Harbor Village. The couple have two sons, Ayden and Hudsn, who attend Warsaw schools. In his free time, Burdick enjoys fishing, waterfowl hunting, and rooting for the Chiefs on Sundays with his family.
In addition to being a School Board member, he is a member of the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, as a voting board member, and is the Lake Area Youth Football League Representative for our Wildcats youth football program. He has coached his oldest son from kindergarten to junior high in youth football, and also helped coach baseball with other dedicated parents. He recently began coaching basketball as well. 
“It has been an honor to have helped mentor and coach all of these young wildcats and watch them grow,” said Burdick. “There are many good things ahead for Warsaw in the near future both on the field, court and in the classroom.”
Burdick states that he is running for a second term on the School Board because he believes that the Board has set our district on the best path for success for all our students. During his term on the Board, there have been several daunting issues that he has helped tackle for the betterment of the District. 
“These hard decisions, and the following changes, have allowed us to put the District in a better situation to move forward,” said Burdick. “We have been able to begin correcting many of the concerns that the public has voiced, whether they be related to facility maintenance or over-all safety of a building. These changes have also helped the District recruit a fantastic faculty, from the ground up, and our children are the ones benefitting from these improvements at the end of the day! It has been a pleasure serving this community and I ask for your continued support come this April.”
Mac Vorce, currently the outgoing Director of the Warsaw Chamber of Commerce, grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada and graduated from Chaparral High School in 1987. He has been in Warsaw since 2001, investing in the community in many ways. Early on, he became involved in the local animal shelter and helped raise funds through his business, Gasoline Alley. His passion for cycling resulted in his teaming up the Corps of Engineers to create the Truman Lake Mountain Bike Park. Coaching was also a passion, so he volunteered as a soccer coach with Warsaw Parks and Recreation. He became Parks director in 2009, working with the Park board and City of Warsaw to restore Lumpe Field Grandstand, to build the new swimming pool, the disc golf course, and start the Bledsoe Ferry Sports complex expansion. He created many special events for residents that also boosted tourism to the local area. He has been involved in 10 years of mountain bike racing, seven years of hosting the Missouri State Mountain Bike Championship, and said “Being able to raise my kids in a healthy lifestyle means the world to me.”
“I look at needs for our community and try to fill gaps,” said Vorce. “I moved out of Parks and Recreation with the launch of my new business Truman Lake Bikes – my childhood dream job. I saw a big gap in our community as I worked in the bike shop and started to really investigate the community to see what needed to happen, so we didn’t become stagnant. That’s when the Chamber Director position became open.”
Vorce believed in the Chamber and wanted to get the business community fired up again. He got with many community partners, found out each group’s role, and saw several gaps starting to be filled because of new communication. He said they all realized how much of the same visions each group had, and the “power of partnership” built the Chamber membership very strong. 
“I like to see things get accomplished,” said Vorce. “Put a plan together, set timelines, build your teams, listen for input, and make it important. These drive success. This is what I think I bring to the table for positive growth and success at Warsaw R-IX School District.”
Dr. Amie Breshears has been a member of the Warsaw School Board since 2017. She holds the position of Ag Business Specialist for MU Extension in Benton County, and is a member of the Benton County Human Services Council. She attended Warsaw schools and graduated from WHS in 1991. While in high school she was involved in National Honor Society, The Wildcat newspaper, Madrigal Singers, Band, Choir, Math Club, Science Club, Volleyball, and appeared in several dramatic productions including performing as Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! She attended Girls State, was a Bright Flight Scholar and was awarded a National Merit Scholarship. 
Dr. Breshears received the Trustees Scholarship to Drury University and graduated with honors in 1996 with a BA in Biology and Business Administration. She earned her Master in Business Administration degree from Drury University in 1998. She earned her Education Specialist in Superintendency degree from the University of Central Missouri in 2007, and her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Missouri in 2015.
Dr. Breshears served as a vocational business/computer teacher at WHS for six years, as South Elementary Principal and District Transportation Director for three years, and as an administrator at WHS for three years. She enjoys serving on the Warsaw Education Foundation, the Benton County Youth Coalition, the Warsaw Friends of the Library and more. She states that she is honored to have served the district on the School Board and would be honored to be re-elected to serve again. “Our schools are the heart of our community and I want to continue to do all I can to make them the best they can be.”
Dr. Breshears and husband, David, (also a WHS graduate) have three sons who attend Warsaw schools.
Leslie Grace is a graduate of WHS and a sixth generation resident of Benton County. She is a firm believer in the power and importance of quality education, and believes that Warsaw schools can offer an education that is second to none. Leslie and husband, Mitch, have four children who all graduated from WHS and she is grateful for the excellent education they received and the success they have achieved resulting in attaining advanced college degrees and highly respectable careers. Grace stated that “The foundation for their success was laid by the dedicated educators of the Warsaw school system.”
Grace spent 10 years as an employee of the school district as the South Elementary secretary. She was also heavily involved with that school’s PTO for many years. She currently works with her father and brothers at Henderson Ranch, where she manages the accounting and finances for their back grounding business that cares for several thousand steers annually. She and her husband also operate their own ranch where they handle 400 plus cows. In her free time she enjoys photography, writing, gardening, and playing with her grandchildren.
Grace would like to see the school district continue to excel and improve; providing the same quality education and opportunity to the next generation of students that was provided to her children. She has spent her life involved with the Warsaw schools; as a student, 34 years as a parent/grandparent of Warsaw students, and ten years as an employee. She has spent that time listening to teachers, administrators, parents, students, and support staff and hopes to leverage those experiences and diverse perspectives to benefit Warsaw Schools.
Reba Slavens was raised on a farm in Fristoe by parents Ronnie and Beth Jackman. She considers herself fortunate to have attended South Elementary while her father was the beloved custodian. She graduated from WHS where she was Student Council President, played basketball, softball and was a cheerleader. After high school, Slavens earned a BS degree in Psychology.  Then, she operated an in-home day care and later worked for Burrell Behavioral Health as a Youth Case Manager. In 2017, she and her family moved back to their hometown of 
Warsaw from Springfield. She presently works as the Admissions and Marketing Coordinator for Warsaw Health and Rehabilitation Center. 
Slavens states that she loves being involved in the community that she calls home, and is on the Board of Directors for the Warsaw Area Chamber of Commerce, the Parks and Recreation Board, the Salvation Army Committee, and is a member of the Warsaw Lions Club.
Slavens is married to John Slavens, son of Warsaw educators Ag and Patty Slavens, and they have two sons, Kaden, 15, and Eli, 7. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family, boating, and adventures with her boys.
“Giving back to the community is what brought me to the decision of running for the school board,” said Slavens. “I want to help ensure that every student has the opportunity to reach their full potential, and that we can continue to attract, develop, and keep the best educators.”