Best Practices

Mayor Larry R. Stobbs

Mayor's Role in Education

In an effort to open the Mayor's Office to all citizens, including and especially youth, St. Joseph Mayor Larry Stobbs has established several initiatives:

  • The Mayor accepts all invitations to speak to school groups. Throughout the year he is invited to speak to classes as part of their studies of government. But rather than "speaking to students," these class visits are a question-and-answer period. Often, following visits with the students, their thank-you notes include a student's wish that they want to grow up to be mayor. It is very rewarding, the Mayor says, to learn that you have given a child a natural curiosity about and interest in their local government, and a desire to be a part of the decision-making process.

  • The City Council actively pursues and identifies the accomplishments of our students and their teachers by recognizing them with a special citizenship award.

  • The Mayor's Office is frequently the destination of class field trips. During these field trips, the Mayor first meets with the students in Council chambers. They discuss various aspects of city government and, again, have a question- and-answer period. Later they move on to Mayor Stobbs's office. In the outer office there are pictures of each St. Joseph mayor dating back to "day one." Students then go into the Mayor's office, which is a St. Joseph history lesson in itself. The mayor has an extensive display of St. Joseph memorabilia -- but it seems the kids are always most fascinated by the huge ceremonial Key to the City. At the conclusion of their visit, each student receives a Key to the City and souvenir pencil -- and a Cherry Mash candy bar (St. Joseph is the home of Cherry Mash).

  • This spring St. Joseph initiated a program which, based on its success, will be an annual event. "Student in Government Day" was sponsored by the City of St. Joseph, the St. Joseph School District and a local Rotary Club. This program invited 16 students from each of the city's four high schools to spend the day at City Hall. Each student was assigned a "role" (i.e., Mayor, Council Member, City Manager, City Clerk or department head). The first part of the day was spent "shadowing" the counterpart and in the afternoon a mock Council work session was held to discuss various budget requests. They presented, discussed and voted on 12 separate budget items, passing two. They drew their purse strings very tightly! The evaluation responses indicated that the students thoroughly enjoyed the day, thought it should be expanded into two days, and definitely felt the program should be conducted annually.

Contact: Office of the Mayor, (816) 271-4640

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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