Dr. Leigh Ann Cornman

Lifelong educator draws on wide-ranging experiences to lead TCC
Posted on 08/19/2023
Dr. Leigh Ann Cornman

Dr. Leigh Ann Cornman brings an array of education knowledge to the Poplar Bluff Technical Career Center, having taught at practically every grade level, and hopes to be able to continue to build upon the momentum sparked by her predecessor.

Cornman was hired by the Board of Education in April to succeed Charles Kinsey, who was promoted to the superintendent cabinet, and assumed her leadership position last month, hitting the ground running.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in the Poplar Bluff School District as director of the TCC,” Cornman stated. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues, the TCC instructors and staff, our community and business partners, as well as students and their families to provide the best possible learning opportunities for supporting our students in preparing each one to be career and workplace ready.”

Since 2016, Cornman had been employed by the Jefferson College Area Technical School as a faculty member of the early childhood education program, most recently serving in an assistant professor capacity. The institution is unique to career and technical education in that it is a trade school that serves high school students, but on a college campus, Cornman explained. In 2020, she was awarded the Linda K. Johnston Excellence in Assessment Award from the Jefferson College Foundation.

This year marks Cornman’s 22nd as an educator, beginning on a full-time basis in her hometown of Gideon in 1993, then stepping away for the birth of her three children: Madison Rhodes, Baleigh Morelan and Drew Cornman. In the Bootheel, she worked with students from kindergarten through junior high, in order to meet the needs of the school system. “To me teaching is teaching. I’ve enjoyed each grade level, but I navigated at that time toward kindergarten,” Leigh Ann said.

She gained additional classroom experience at Risco, Malden, Advance and Walnut Grove, before accepting an administrative position in Pierce City, where she would serve as director of curriculum and federal programs. For 30 years come September, Leigh Ann will have been married to Dr. Aaron Cornman, Poplar Bluff’s new superintendent. She noted: “When he moved into school administration, we went where the job was.”

Their ultimate plan, Leigh Ann explained, was for Aaron to hone his leadership abilities and then seek a superintendent job back in Southeast Missouri. However, it took longer than anticipated, as opportunities began to open up across the state for their daughters and son—now all college graduates—she commented.

“As our own children were getting older, I found myself being more interested in teaching older students, helping educators with different teaching strategies,” Leigh Ann reflected, referencing her instructional coaching post at Hillsboro. “All those things that I learned and shared with teachers actually helped me when I went to the technical college.”

Leigh Ann earned her doctorate in education from Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis. Her dissertation was about the effectiveness of the state Title 1 schoolwide program in relation to the reading achievement of Missouri elementary students. She received a master's degree in school administration from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau and her bachelor’s in elementary education from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

“I am excited to see the directions PBTCC’s innovation takes, especially when considering the wide variety of skill sets that Dr. Leigh Ann Cornman brings to the table in conjunction with the great staff at PBTCC,” said Kinsey, R-I assistant superintendent of business. “The outcomes I trust will be timely and innovative, and I for one look forward to seeing how our community benefits from their work!”

Since taking the reins from Kinsey, Leigh Ann has been overseeing the construction of the state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Center, which broke ground on its future 3,240-square-foot facility on the TCC campus a month prior to her arrival. There has also been an HVAC overhaul underway, with roof replacements and a security upgrade in the planning stages.

“I am new to the TCC family, so my role is being defined through listening, learning, asking, trusting and planning as I seek to build upon the current successes of the TCC,” Leigh Ann continued. “I will be diligent in supporting the work of the TCC instructors and staff, ensuring everyone has the resources they need to guide our TCC students on a path of success in their chosen program of study.”

On a personal note, Leigh Ann is a classically trained pianist, practices yoga and is an avid outdoorswoman, having grown up as the daughter of a crop-duster, Winfred Wilkins, along with her mother Debbie. Last year, Leigh Ann was named the second woman to earn gold in the Blue Ribbon Trout Slam through the Missouri Department of Conservation and, partnering with Aaron, became the second couple to catch a wild trout in each of the state’s nine qualifying streams.

Now residents of Butler County, the Cornmans closed on some acreage this summer bordering the Mark Twain National Forest off of Highway W. “It’s our little piece of heaven,” shared Leigh Ann, adding that the couple hopes to build their home there. But until then, they have downsized, and are comfortably living out of their RV just north of city limits.


Cutline: Dr. Leigh Ann Cornman has been hired to succeed Charles Kinsey as director of the Technical Career Center amid multiple campus renovations.

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2023 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved.