Skip to main navigation Skip to section navigation Skip to main content
MRH Logo
Show search

Welcome Letter

MRH Superintendent Dr. Karen I. HallWelcome to Maplewood Richmond Heights. Our schools form a gem of a district in the greater St. Louis region – a public school system offering its students a private school education.

Central to our mission is the statement that we will inspire and prepare students as leaders, scholars, stewards and citizens. We call these four concepts “the cornerstones” of our district – scholarship, leadership, stewardship, and citizenship.

At MRH, we value highly qualified teachers, personalized service, academic rigor, technology for 21st century learning, diversity, and outstanding facilities. Having these has been critical to our progress, but at the heart of our improvement is the strong ties MRH has with the community. Our partnership with both cities, its residents, and local businesses is a model for others.

Karen I. Hall, Ed.D.
Outgoing Superintendent

I invite you to learn more about our schools and programs

About Dr. Karen I. Hall

Dr. Karen Hall took the helm as Superintendent of Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in July 2012, following 19 years as an educator and administrator at both MRH (Assistant Superintendent) and the Pattonville School District, where she was the principal at Willow Brook Elementary School. Before that, she worked as an elementary school assistant principal in both Pattonville and Ritenour School Districts and a teacher in the Kirkwood School District. Karen earned her Ed.D. in educational leadership from Webster University. She also holds an Ed.S. from Lindenwood University. She has a master’s degree in educational administration from Saint Louis University and a bachelor’s degree in education from Fontbonne University. In June of 2020, Dr. Hall announced her intent to retire from MRH at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year.

Dr. Hall is a 2019 honoree by the National Conference for Community Justice, a St. Louis-based organization which promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures through its advocacy and educational programs that embrace diversity, self-awareness, and community-wide change. She was named an Inspiring St. Louisan in 2014 by the NAACP of St. Louis County.

Dr. Hall believes fervently in diversity and inclusive education. In January 2013, she received the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Missouri State Thespians Association. MRH teachers and students who performed in the High School’s play, The Laramie Project, nominated Hall. Former MRH High School student Cassidy Snyder wrote in the nomination: "Karen Hall has been an adamant supporter from the beginning. Her support was what made the show possible...when protesters from Westboro Baptist Church arrived; she was on the front steps, defending us through a megaphone.” 

In September, 2020, Dr. Hall was honored at the St. Louis American's Salute to Excellence in Education event. And in October, 2020, she was named "Educator of the Year" by the Mid-County Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Hall is committed and passionate about ensuring educational excellence for all MRH students. She is dedicated to developing rich learning experiences in schools so that students develop leadership skills, are actively engaged in the community, have opportunities to explore social justice issues, and have access to artistic self-exploration balanced with academic rigor. In 2012, Dr. Hall directed her administrators to implement the Public Education Leadership Project, PELP, from Harvard University. The implementation of the PELP model’s systemic thinking is changing the achievement, alignment, and sustainability within the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District. The work is moving forward to close the achievement gap and ensure that all students achieve at higher levels. 

Dr. Karen Hall’s passion for educational equity and excellence drives her relationships and leadership. She is committed to continuing the success of the district and building upon the strong foundation the community has created together as she transitiions to retirement in June, 2021. 

Community message from Acting Superintendent Roxanna Mechem, Oct. 27, 2020

Superintendent's Community Messages

September 18, 2020

October 16, 2020

To the MRH School District community,

As many of you already know, the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District Board of Education voted 5-2 on Thursday evening to keep our students in a fully virtual learning scenario for the remainder of the first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year. The Board chose to remain in this “Tier 3” format at least until January 21, but did not make any recommendations or commitments about how student learning might proceed when the new semester begins on January 25.  

At Thursday’s meeting, I presented a “Tier 2 proposal” by the administration to bring students in grades K-8 back into school buildings on a staggered, part-time schedule. The plan would have taken effect one month from today for the first wave of returning students, with teachers returning two weeks earlier than their respective students. The Board did not vote specifically on that plan, but instead approved a motion to hold off on returning to classrooms until at least the halfway point of the school year. 

As superintendent, my next step is to craft a new reentry proposal in collaboration with my administrative team for the Board’s consideration. This is an ongoing process which demands we keep the safety of students and staff at the top of our minds while addressing several troubling factors: the toll that virtual learning is taking on the mental health and academic development of so many youngsters... the severe financial and emotional impact on families... and the strain placed upon teachers’ shoulders. 

Please know that I am grateful for the many phone calls and messages I’ve received over the past few months from people on all sides of this issue. It’s critical that we not lose sight of our strong sense of community. We ALL want what’s best for the children, despite our differences. Listening is just as important as talking right now, perhaps more so. We must nurture civil discourse in order to protect and propel this school community which we adore so much. 

With love for you and for this place,

Dr. Karen I. Hall, Superintendent, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District

September 10, 2020

Dr. Hall receives Excellence in Education Award from the St. Louis American Foundation.

June 22, 2020

Dear MRH families,

I am announcing today that I will retire from the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District following the 2020-2021 school year. It has been a joy and a privilege to serve this school community for the past 12 years.  

Since long before I arrived at MRH, I have emphasized that achieving educational excellence is a process in which families play a critical role. There is unmistakable historical evidence that the citizens of Maplewood and Richmond Heights are deeply committed to the ongoing prosperity of this District. When I accepted the assistant superintendent’s position in 2008, the economy was in tatters and families struggled. Despite that, you stepped up and approved both a tax and a bond issue to pay for sorely-needed facilities and learning tools. After I assumed the superintendency in 2012, that pattern of support repeated time after time, including this month’s passage of Proposition E to pay for major expansion and safety improvements in all buildings. 

Our dedicated families propel us forward. Where we would be without parents who volunteer to chaperone expeditions and field trips… sell snacks and paint faces at carnivals and picnics… work the Boosters Club concession stand… coach MRH Youth Sports… or donate time and effort to PTO fundraisers? On behalf of the Board of Education, I offer you a heartfelt thanks for stepping up over and over again.

Please know that I’m working alongside the Board and my administrative team to support a smooth transition over the next 12 months. The search for the next MRH superintendent will begin with the Board’s selection of an executive search firm. We hope to have an announcement for you in early 2021.

The district is in a good place, and thus, it’s a good time for me to leave with my son Nathan when he graduates in May 2021. I have opportunities for consulting, teaching, and I am taking on my late father’s business, The Lacey Group.

I look forward to being your Superintendent of Schools for one more year. 


Karen I. Hall, Ed.D

Superintendent, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District

June 4, 2020:


Once more, we find our nation and this region in the throes of racial upheaval. The May 25 killing by a police officer in Minneapolis was a flashpoint that ignited pent up anger and long-simmering frustration. It is unsettling and heartbreaking to witness the ongoing images of widespread destruction and violence in so many communities. Just as troubling are the unforgivable losses of life which are fueling this unfettered rage. 

It’s enough to sap one’s emotional energy to the point of feeling helpless… even hopeless.

Now, more than ever, we need to stand strong and be there for our kids. It is supremely important that we not allow anxiety and uncertainty to overwhelm any among us, especially the youngsters we nurture and protect. It is difficult enough for mature adults to process issues as weighty as white guilt and black rage. How are children expected to do the same? With your help.

Explain to your youngsters that traumatized people lash out in ways that many of us can neither understand nor rationalize. Demonstrate to them the difference between being non-racist and anti-racist, and why it’s more important to practice empathy than sympathy. Help them understand that chants of “No Peace” are not an endorsement of violence, but instead are a reflection of the constant state of being for too many African-Americans today.   

We need parent-leaders who will teach by example that ours is a sensitive, tolerant, welcoming community unafraid to speak openly about issues of equity and equality, not just in classrooms but on playgrounds, sidewalks, front yards, and friends’ homes. I’ve said it before: the MRH community is known nationally as a shining example of inclusiveness and diversity. Why? Because we’ve always possessed the courage necessary to facilitate honest talk.  

The mission of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District has never been more vital than it is today: “to inspire and prepare students as leaders, scholars, stewards, and citizens for a diverse and changing world.” Diversity and change are at the very heart of the tumult happening around us today. As long as we carry out candid discussions based on mutual respect and civility with the goal of repairing harm, we are not helpless… or hopeless.

Peace to you,

Dr. Karen I. Hall, Superintendent

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District


Message to the Community, March 25, 2020


October 2, 2019

MRH Board of Directors and Superintendent Forge New Energy into Equity-oriented Practices


August 8 , 2019

Dear friends throughout the MRH community,

On behalf of the Board of Education and our staff, I want to welcome everyone back to the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District for the 2019-20 school year! The excitement and anticipation are palpable as we prepare our learning spaces for the arrival of our future leaders, scholars, stewards and citizens. Our first day for K-12 students is Monday, August 12; first day for preschool is Monday, August 19.

“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge – even wisdom. Like art.” - Toni Morrison, American novelist, 1931-2019

Friends, our region and the nation grapple to make sense of the pain and complex social issues surrounding the recent shootings in Texas and Ohio. What’s more, this month marks five years since the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Such intense issues demand they be examined through a lens of sensitivity. I remain steadfastly committed to the MRH Resolution on Educational Equity and Social Justice. It outlines the path we must take to nurture community through relationships and communication. 

For the upcoming year, our focus is to ensure our learning spaces are safe and inspirational for all. We know that children can not grow and learn in an environment where these qualities are lacking. This year, MRH is teaming up with local experts in the field of facilities design to advance several key objectives: to protect our students and staff in times of crisis, to maintain stimulating and motivational learning spaces, and to evaluate opportunities for expansion. Very soon, we’ll announce opportunities for all of our valued stakeholders to participate in this exciting process. 

The Board of Education has established 4 Pillars of Safety for the MRH community:

  • Infrastructure - protecting buildings and facilities

  • Crisis management - emergency preparedness

  • Whole child health - tackling barriers to wellbeing

  • Cyber security - promoting positive engagement

These pillars comprise our “whole child” approach to ensure our spaces remain safe and inclusive for all students.

As many of you know, I have a passion for educational equity and excellence. I celebrate diversity and strive to foster inclusive education. In the coming year, MRH will continue to provide our educators with the ongoing training necessary to meet the unique needs of every single student. All MRH buildings (K-12) are engaging in a long-term, strategic progression of professional development to be trauma-informed and adept at restorative practices. 

So, my message to you today is simple. Get ready, this year is going to be a thrilling ride!

Thank you for your continued support of our students and this district. I know 2019-20 will be another great year of many successes for our students and community!


Karen I. Hall, Ed.D

Superintendent of Schools

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District


August 6, 2018

Dear friends throughout the MRH community,

On behalf of the Board of Education and our staff, I want to welcome everyone back to the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District for the 2018-19 school year. The new year brings with it a fresh sense of excitement for what lies ahead. Our first day for K-12 students is Tuesday, August 14; first day for preschool is Tuesday, August 21.

There has never been a better time to celebrate the notion of community. Community is key to our wellbeing and comforts us in trying times. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” This holds true within the boundaries of our school district. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoice. When one hurts, we all hurt.

How do we enhance our understanding of the value of community? Collaboration. Only together will we learn to overcome, embrace, and take advantage of our differences. Discussions that involve disagreement or dissent are nearly always uncomfortable. When people openly express their differences, they trigger emotional reactions. But by dealing with differences, we embark on a path toward confronting social injustices and educational inequities. At the end of the day, despite our differences, we know that we will power forward as members of one supportive and nurturing community.

All of this is for naught if we fail to commit to being inclusive and change-oriented. This goes for school administrators, our families, our community business partners, faith leaders, elected officeholders, everyone. We must commit to championing the principles of tolerance and dignity. Less “doubling down,” and more “listening up.” We owe this to our students. We owe this to our staff. We owe this to our community.

Thank you for your continued support of our students and this district. I know 2018-19 will be another great year of many successes for our students and community!


Karen I. Hall

Superintendent of Schools

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District


May 18, 2018

To our students, families, and community partners,

As the nation reels from yet another mass shooting at a school, this time in Santa Fe, TX., I wanted you to see this resolution passed by our Board of Education last night. The resolution is our response to proposed legislation in Missouri which would allow any school district employee to petition for a permit to carry a concealed weapon on district property. But the resolution also urges passage of what we consider common-sense reforms to gun regulation laws, not just in Missouri but nationwide. It is our belief that conceal-carry on school property is a reactive response which fails to address the factors which could prompt an individual to carry out violent acts in the first place. Regulatory reforms are proactive and are in step with what MRH has always espoused: early intervention is the key to identifying troubled individuals before they spiral out of control.




Karen I. Hall, Superintendent

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District


March 7, 2018

MRH Letter to the Community; Parkland Demonstrations

To our students, families, and community partners,

On Valentine’s Day of this year, fear and anxiety once again welled up in the hearts of millions of Americans when a rampaging gunman massacred 17 people, mostly students, at a school in Parkland, Florida.

With that atrocity still fresh on our minds, MRH wants to assure families that our children’s physical and emotional safety is our top priority. We have plans in place at each of our schools to handle emergencies. We work with the Maplewood and Richmond Heights Police and Fire Departments, as well as private crisis response experts, to prepare and practice our safety procedures with students and staff. We ask only that our families listen and respond to their children’s concerns about school safety, as we all strive to allay the fear that would otherwise paralyze us into a state of inaction.

We have arrived at a moment when MRH staff and students alike are moved to protest publicly and loudly to bring about change. Capturing the attention of change agents -- such as lawmakers and judges -- often demands public displays of outrage. This is why we must not foster a system whereby students are afraid to walk out of their school buildings, link arms, and project their messages loudly and clearly. No MRH student who exercises the constitutional right to peacefully participate in this type of speech will be reprimanded or made to fear retribution. Dissent, dialogue, and debate are critical. What better way to inspire and prepare our students as tomorrow’s leaders, scholars, stewards and citizens?

MRH students across all grade levels will make their statements in a variety of ways on the morning of March 14:

  • At the Elementary School, students will be supplied with a permission slip which ensures that each student who chooses to walk out of class has first had a discussion with family members about the issues surrounding safety in schools. Staff members will ensure the students’ safety both indoors and outdoors during the walkout.
  • At MRH High and Middle Schools, the district is offering students the option to participate and demonstrate their support for the lives lost as well as recognizing the importance of school safety. This is not a pro- or anti-gun rally. So far, we have had two student-led planning meetings in recent weeks and we will have follow-up meetings on Monday and Tuesday.
  • At our Early Childhood Center, where a wholesale walkout would be neither safe nor age-appropriate, students and staff will engage in acts of kindness, an all-school project that takes time and makes space to take care of one other.  ECC has decided to move its event to Friday, March 16th. In the morning they are going to celebrate their learning community through reading together. Second-grade classes are paired with a preschool home space and 1st grade is paired with kindergarten.  In the afternoon, they are going to end the day with a Kindness March through the neighborhood. 

Please remember that our first responsibility is student supervision and safety. We want to make clear that any student who leaves campus without permission may face consequences. Likewise, any members of the public who come onto campus without permission to join the protests will be asked to leave and perhaps removed by law enforcement.

Thank you,

Karen I. Hall, Superintendent

Maplewood Richmond Heights School District


MRH’s Letter to the Community re: Charlottesville, VA

August 23, 2017

A message to our families from Maplewood Richmond Heights School District Superintendent Karen I. Hall, re: Charlottesville, VA

A cozy, idyllic American town, centered around a progressive and welcoming educational institution.  A close-knit fabric of schoolmates, parents and guardians, merchants, civic and faith leaders.  An entrenched sense of mutual respect, tolerance, and the basic right of all humans to be treated with dignity.

All of these qualities are hallmarks of the cities of Maplewood and Richmond Heights.  But they also might describe Charlottesville, Virginia, which, when it isn’t being marauded by those who reject notions of equality, is not unlike the communities in which we live, and that’s what brings the tragedy too close to home. 

For many Americans it was unsettling and heartbreaking to witness the images of inequality fueled by brute and unfettered rage, and the unforgivable loss of life.  Many are asking themselves, do we shield ourselves and our children from these stark displays of inhumanity or do we stand up on behalf of the oppressed?

The advent of an exciting new academic year provides the perfect opportunity to remind our families that the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District has a long, proud tradition of proactively confronting some of society’s most vexing moral and political issues.   

In February, the MRH Board of Education passed a landmark resolution which declared that:

 - We believe all people, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, disability, age, sexual orientation and/or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, or any other individual characteristic – deserve to be respected and appreciated.

- We seek to overcome the social, cultural, and educational barriers that members of our diverse population may experience through advocacy, community engagement, and professional development.

 - We believe we must directly confront issues of diversity and social justice in order to alleviate the inequitable practices and outcomes these issues spawn.

What’s more, MRH applies its four educational cornerstones to not only mold tomorrow’s leaders, but to shape their development in these formative but often turbulent years.

  • Scholarship:  promoting academic rigor to develop the problem-solvers of the future.
  • Leadership:  instilling skills that will last a lifetime, including the ability to influence others with positive messages of fairness and equality.
  • Stewardship:  demonstrating that we are one human family charged with caring for the world which sustains us.
  • Citizenship:  ensuring that our students grow into adults with strong senses of social justice and cultural awareness.

Fostering a safe atmosphere and promoting open discussion can not happen without swift and unequivocal action to address injustices head-on.  Only through a decisive, focused response will we help our students and staff process these difficult events.  On this, the cusp of our new school year, that is one of our primary aims: to act now in readiness for the crises of the future.

The MRH community is known nationally as a shining example of inclusiveness and diversity.  Together, with our community partners, we can sew up the wounds of embedded injustice in our own backyard and… just maybe… serve as an example for other great American cities such as Charlottesville, Virginia.

Our very mission says it all:  to “inspire and prepare students as leaders, scholars, stewards, and citizens for a diverse and changing world.” 

We are thrilled to have our students and staff back in the classrooms.  Here’s to the promise of a new year inspired by the quest for social justice and educational equity.


Karen I. Hall

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.