Despite challenges, Wright City R-II schools find ways to succeed

By Jason Koch, Editor
Posted 3/8/24

Wright City R-II school district leaders in Missouri tout success after COVID pandemic, including improving student achievement.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Despite challenges, Wright City R-II schools find ways to succeed


Coming out of COVID stronger, improving academic performance, and addressing serious facility issues are two big successes that Wright City R-II Superintendent Dr. Christopher Berger is proud of addressing as the end of his time in the district approaches.

Berger announced in October that he would retire as superintendent of the district he’s led for the past four years.

“I’d like to say you’re never accomplished in some of those things,” Berger said. “But those three things, I’m certainly very proud of.”

And while he spread the credit around to Assistant Superintendent Doug Smith and the principals and teachers within the district, he’s also confident that Wright City will maintain its recent momentum that has propelled it into the top 25 percent of school districts in Missouri.

“I don’t think that’s going to change with the leadership coming in and Dr. Salvo,” Berger said.

But, he added, “the growth will definitely be a challenge moving forward.”

The district is prepared for that growth, though, thanks to its continuous school improvement plan and recently approved master plan that has an outline for improvements into the next decade.

Berger credited the school board with keeping the district focused on its goals, especially with some of the allegations people made against school districts during the COVID pandemic.

“That’s very frustrating to have people that come to your board meeting that aren’t part of your community and speak about some of these misconceptions,” Berger said. “But our seasoned board, we stayed above all that. They listened to the feedback and kept their eye on the challenges that were ahead of us, keeping the doors open during COVID, doing what they’ve done for forever, and trying to make an attempt to impact student achievement.”

He was grateful that the board listened, but didn’t take any action just to look like it was responding.

“There just were no knee-jerk reactions to any of the criticisms that were lobbed at the board of the Wright City Schools,” Berger said. “All feedback is welcome, but there were just no knee-jerk reactions to anything.”

And he said that’s what really helped the district come out of COVID stronger.

“I knew our performance was not where it needed to be,” Berger said. “I thought if everybody else is just hoping for status quo, can we actually continue to put things in place that will have a positive impact on student achievement?”

And he said thanks to the board, Smith, and the teachers, the district was able to ensure students continued to learn and see a marked improvement in its numbers.

“We actually had to improve student achievement during that stressful time while we’re trying to keep the doors open,” Berger said. “And when we were successful in doing that the first year, it kind of snowballed. And, three years later, we find ourselves in the top 45 percent of the state.”

Now, as he prepares to turn leadership of the Wright City R-II school district over to the next superintendent, Berger is confident the district is in a strong position.

“I really am super excited about Dr. Salvo,” he said. 

“I’ve shared this with her, I’ve shared it with new superintendents that I’ve engaged with for years. And one of the things that have helped me find some success in leading school districts is you have to fall in love with your community. You have to advocate for your community every day. And the thing I like about Dr. Salvo is that she’s from Wright City, she graduated from Wright City. And it doesn’t take very long in talking to her to find out she never fell out of love with Wright City.

“So I think that’s going to propel her to success and keep the district going in the right direction.”

About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at

wright city, r ii, school, district, success