- Dr. Suzanne M. Leake - Principal
- Dr. Andy Downs - Associate Principal
- Dr. Bart Denbow - Assistant Principal
- Dr. Ashley Mair - Assistant Principal
- Brian Warner - Assistant Principal
- Scott Harris - Activities Director
One of my favorite quotes is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” spoken by Theodore Roosevelt. This quote encapsulates my beliefs around education and the importance of relationships. I started my educational career as a Physical Education and Health teacher and coach in 1999. My first three years of teaching provided me with the opportunity to work with three different administrative teams, and quickly, I realized the impact leadership teams have on the success of students and teachers. It was my goal then, and today, it is still MY WHY: to provide opportunities so others can be their very best. I strongly believe that teachers matter the most in a student’s success story. It is my responsibility as a building principal to recruit, hire, support, promote, inform and celebrate the best educators for the students and families I serve.
I returned to my alma mater, Lindenwood University, in 2002 to earn my Masters degree in Educational Administration and began as an Assistant Principal at Hazelwood West High School in 2007. The next year I was the Associate Principal and served in this role for six years. During my tenure in the Hazelwood School District, I earned my Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at Maryville University here in St. Louis in 2012.
After writing, presenting and defending my dissertation on Instructional Coaching I thought I would take a break from the student role for a while; however, the very next year, I was honored to be a participant in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s newly launched Missouri Leadership for Excellence, Achievement and Development program (MoLEAD).
In 2014, I served as an administrator at Fort Zumwalt East High School and after two short years, I was honored to accept an opportunity to work with amazing educators and families in the Francis Howell School District as the Principal of Bryan Middle School in 2016. This career move has brought me “home” since graduating from Francis Howell North High School in 1994 and has provided me with an opportunity to give back to the community that gave me so much. My time at Bryan Middle School was when I recognized the truth in the saying “Iron sharpens iron.” My wife, Hayley, and I became parents to two beautiful girls who have bestowed on us a comprehensive understanding to the definition of unconditional love and the ability to see life and education from a parent’s perspective.
Prior to the start of the 2022-23 school year, I was humbly honored to accept the opportunity to serve as the interim building principal of Francis Howell Central High School, Home of the Spartans. I joined the Spartan Family with true excitement and an ambitious desire to sustain the success that has been established here by previous educators.
This year, it is my goal to learn the current reality of FHC, celebrate the successes and provide opportunities in areas needing growth. I have continued my leadership development with active involvement in Missouri’s Leadership Development Series as both a learner and a mentor for the past four years. Additionally, It is my second year to serve as a co-facilitator of the Francis Howell School District’s Leadership in Educational Administration Program (LEAP) where I get to learn from others who aspire to transfer their talents and strengths from their current position to an administrative role.
All of these aforementioned times only exist because of the relationships I have shared with countless mentors and friends. Most of whom were former colleagues, teachers, students and parents of those I have had the privilege to work alongside. My story would not be the same without the support of my wife and family. They are my rock, my strength and my inspiration. The time I spend with my wife and children outside of school fuels me to serve others, keeps MY WHY at the center of my work and motivates me to be a leader in a community where family is at the core of who we are, at Spartan Nation, at Francis Howell Central. Once a Spartan, Always a Spartan!
Dr. Suzanne M. Leake
Francis Howell Central High School
As a kid, I was in awe of my mother, who worked as a fourth grade teacher at Robinwood Elementary. I remember stumbling into her little classroom, eager to be of assistance and never failing to be shocked and pleased at the amount of former students who would show up, in mass, to help her set up her classroom. I listened as they shared how my mom had impacted their lives; she had opened up opportunities for them as children, and they continued to be grateful to her as a teacher and a mentor.
Seeing the joy and pride that the success of her former students brought to her, I knew that I wanted to become a similar resource for others. I wanted to ensure that all students with whom I worked would have opportunities that would lead to a successful future.
So, as a young man with slightly more hair and an abundance of excitement, I graduated from Truman State University with a BA in English--Go Bulldogs—and I finished a certification program at the University of Missouri St. Louis so that I could begin teaching students English and begin helping students to build toward a successful future.
I began my teaching career in the Ferguson-Florissant School District at McCluer Senior High, and I later continued my teaching career at Francis Howell High School. At both schools, I discovered how to help insure that opportunities were afforded to a greater amount of students, whether this be by starting a program for underperforming minority males or by finding the power that exists in a high-performing PLC and using it to insure that all of my students were learning at high levels, not just some of them.
However, despite the great experiences that I had in my own classroom, they were certainly great. I saw the potential in administration to make sure that even more students had opportunities to become successful. As a result, I completed a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership at Lindenwood University, and I began my initial foray in administration at Francis Howell Central High School as a Dean of Students, and it was absolutely wonderful. This was followed by a nine-year stint at Francis Howell North High School as both an Assistant Principal and as a Principal, where I would continue to grow and learn, and during this time period, I would also earn my Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
Those opportunities were all very fulfilling and educational, but they often did not include as much direct opportunity to influence academics and to work with teachers and students, so I returned home to Francis Howell Central, as an Associate Principal, to do exactly what I love to do.
Over the past four years at FHC, I have supervised core departments, I have overseen Professional Learning, Communities, I have helped to increase the number of underrepresented students who are taking AP classes, I have publicized academic accomplishments and opportunities to insure that there is greater awareness and participation rate amongst among all of our students, and this continues to be a goal to which I am deeply committed.
I greatly enjoy the opportunity to be at FHC and to work with our great students and staff. It is truly a pleasure.
Dr. Andrew Downs
Growing up in a family of educators, I gained an early insight and appreciation for education. I have a passion for providing young adults the opportunities to learn, lead, and show pride in their school, and truly believe that educational experiences shape young people and help develop their character. I believe teachers and educational leaders hold great power in setting the stage for the growth, development and achievement of our students.
Prior to becoming an administrator, I spent 14 years as a teacher and coach. During that time, I taught Physical Education and coached boys’ basketball, track and golf. Those experiences helped me to be a better teacher, and eventually a better administrator.
I am a firm believer that all educators should be lifelong learners themselves. As such, I graduated from Missouri Baptist University with a Masters in Educational Leadership and then earned my Doctorate of Education from Maryville University. In my time as an administrator I have served as both Activities Director and Assistant Principal.
For the past three years I have served as Assistant Principal at FHC. Some of my duties include supporting our Business, Physical Education and World Language departments, serving as the building technology administrator and coordinating Homebound services for the building. Both FHC and FHSD have a rich tradition of academic excellence, and I am honored to serve our staff, students and community to ensure ALL of our students are prepared for success after graduation.
Dr. Bart Denbow
FHC is a special place because it feels like family to me. It’s important to be in a place where you feel welcome and valued, and our school is a small community where we work hard to do exactly that for students, staff, and families. When someone walks through the doors at FHC, I want to greet them by name and talk about things that matter. It’s even more important to me that we teach young people how to be kind and care for one another, because we are all more alike than we are different.
I began my teaching career at Francis Howell Central High School as a Spanish teacher. Through that role, we started service learning projects that allowed students to interact on a more personal level and to contribute to society. Seeing the growth students experienced in the classroom led to a club with this mission which attracted more students and still provided opportunities to care for one another on a local level, which is part of our culture at FHC.
In moving to administration, those passion projects morphed into my work with our student leader groups and my certification as a Restorative trainer through the International Institute of Restorative Practices. Now I work with our student leaders to build community in our monthly Seminar conversations.
I support FHC’s Alternative Learning department and I work closely with the Multicultural Achievement Committee (MAC Scholars). Working with both groups allows me to remove academic barriers to success and promote opportunities for our students’ path in the next phase of their lives. I particularly love having creative conversations with teachers as they work to engage students more authentically in the classroom. I am excited for the growth FHSD is showing in our focus on school attachment and on college and career goals.
I have loved working at Francis Howell Central High School for the last 17 years and am thrilled to call it “home”.
Dr. Ashley Mair
Over the past 20 years, I have been blessed to work with some of the finest people in all of education. In 2001, I started my career as a Social Studies teacher at Francis Howell Central High School because I wanted to help all students learn from the past so they can positively impact the future. It was this vision that would guide efforts to best serve the students, staff and families at FHC. While I was living out my dream as a classroom teacher, I was also able to follow my other passion of coaching. During my 7 and ½ years as a teacher, I was also able to join the coaching staff of our men’s football and basketball programs. With all of the hours spent on the fields and courts of competition, I was fortunate to develop some amazing relationships with my players and fellow coaches that still exist today.
While amazing relationships were formed with my colleagues, coaches and players, I still wanted to do more for my students. Especially those who needed more help and attention. In order for me to make a larger impact, I felt that I needed to go beyond my classroom. I began talking with my building level administrators and seeking ways for me to meet my new goal. Up until this point, my background in Education consisted of obtaining an Associate’s Degree from St. Charles County Community College, and then completing my undergraduate program from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. With my new goal of becoming a building level administrator, I enrolled at Lindenwood University and completed both my Masters and Specialist Degrees in Educational Administration.
My career as an administrator began as a Dean of Students initially at Francis Howell and Francis Howell North high school. It was during this three year stint that I gathered valuable experiences and formed my philosophy as a Principal. A philosophy that is based out of meeting and loving all kids to the best of my ability for who they are and what they can become if given a chance. Then in 2012, I came back to FHC as an Assistant Principal and have loved every day since. I view the staff and students at FHC as my very own family and will do anything and everything I can for them to be successful. To me, FHC is my home away from home and I am a proud member of SPARTAN NATION!
After a childhood spent revolving around sports, it was only natural that I kept sports and activities in my life! I was very fortunate to have my life changed by my high school basketball coach and because of that, I began the journey to become a high school teacher and coach.
My goal has always been to impact students’ lives like he impacted mine. This is the philosophy I took into the classroom, and this is the philosophy I keep as I begin my 28th year in education and my 16th year as an administrator.
Giving students multiple ways to be attached to their school and providing coaches, directors and sponsors with opportunities to grow as leaders is my “why” and what drives me to be the best I can be each day. I have led efforts to positively impact our students by starting new sports, clubs, recognition programs and academic support for student-athletes. As a result, FHC has a record number of students participating in activities, clubs or sports.
As I begin my 13th year as the Activities Director of Francis Howell Central High School, it is my honor to serve this school, this School District and this community!