Congratulations to the 2018 Missouri National Distinguished Principal, Emily Cross!



Emily Cross, principal at Indian Trails Elementary in the Fort Osage School District, has been selected as the 2018 Missouri National Distinguished Principal by the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP). Cross was one of 12 principals from MAESP districts around the state who were honored March 3 at a reception and banquet at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach. The event was held in conjunction with the annual MAESP Leadership Conference.

Emily Cross is an enthusiastic leader who values the voice of students, teachers and parents as she strives to sustain a collective commitment of excellence. She believes all members of the learning community are both leaders and learners. Every member of the team, from five year old to veteran teacher, should have opportunity to contribute and share their strengths which empowers individuals to better themselves while also understanding the power of being a part of something much greater than one’s self.

Emily completed her undergraduate degree at Central Missouri State University. Like many educators, her passion to challenge her own thinking led her to earning a master’s degree from Webster University and specialist degree from the University of Central Missouri.

She began her teaching journey at Scott Elementary in the Belton School District in 1999, where she was passionate about giving back to the community where she was raised. Throughout her first few years of teaching, she knew there was more she could give to the world of education. She found herself gravitating toward coaching and supporting new teachers. Along with a few colleagues and mentors, Emily proposed the first instructional coaching positions in the district.  That year was full of learning and leading. She embraced the opportunity to help others realize their potential. Emily’s role as both teacher and coach afforded her many opportunities to encourage others to push beyond their comfort zone, to be the best version of themselves.

Emily knew it was time to take a chance, to put her vision into action and in 2007 her dream came true. She graciously accepted the opportunity to join the Fort Osage R-1 School District and built a school community from scratch and 11 years later she is still living the dream as principal of Indian Trails Elementary. Emily has developed a team who believe that the student comes first. The student is both leader and learner. The voice of the student is the driving force.

Throughout Emily’s journey as a leader she has used her passion for coaching to help inspire other educators. She enjoys presenting to current and aspiring leaders each year who are participating in Leadership Academy, sharing ideas for how to build and maintain a strong culture in their current or future learning communities.

Emily is a leader and coach, yet the classroom draws her back. She has enjoyed going back to her alma mater, the University of Central Missouri to teach undergraduate education students. This time spent with aspiring educators is as much for Emily as it is her students. She soaks up their enthusiasm for what can be, while she helps to complete a much needed blueprint for their journey.

Emily embraces the partnership with surrounding universities, providing real-world experience for their student-teachers, complementing their preparation programs. Student teachers are brought in as contributing members of the team. She takes the responsibility seriously to develop the next generation of aspiring teachers; often hosting five to ten student teachers per year.

Emily was also selected as a mentor for the Missouri Leadership Development program. She takes great pride in working with these new principals to be their coach and confidant as they build strong learning communities. 

Her desire to help others has also been fulfilled through hosting hundreds of educators to tour and learn from the collective commitment of her amazing team and students through the Leader In Me. Indian Trails earned Lighthouse honor in spring of 2017 for creating and maintaining an environment where students are mentored to find their voice and to have understanding of how they can impact the world.

Emily knows the work of a leader must begin with a strong support system at home. She appreciates her husband Todd, for his support and encouragement. While their children, Josie and Lane are her constant inspiration for maximizing every opportunity to support the growth of others, selflessly.


Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals
3550 Amazonas Drive
Jefferson City, MO  65109

Phone: 573-638-2460
Fax:  573-556-6270
maesp@maesp.com

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