Douglas Smith hired to be new administrator at Liberty Christian Academy replacing Bev Wilgus

By Kelly Bowen, Staff Writer
Posted 6/5/24

Liberty Christian Academy opened its doors in September 2005 after the closing of Warrenton Christian School.

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Douglas Smith hired to be new administrator at Liberty Christian Academy replacing Bev Wilgus


Liberty Christian Academy opened its doors in September 2005 after the closing of Warrenton Christian School. Bev Wilgus, among others, believed there was a need for a Christian school in Warren County, which led to the creation of LCA.  

Wilgus, who was there since the school opened its doors, started out as the main high school teacher. Later, she became the master teacher for the whole school until 2014 and for the last 10 years, Wilgus has been the main administrator for LCA. 

“At the time, I was happy being a teacher. I love teaching and I love working with the kids,” Wilgus said. “But, I threw my hat in the ring and became administrator.”

Wilgus announced her retirement from the school in December 2023, but agreed to help train her replacement, Jessica Leonard, which kept Wilgus still very active in the school. Leonard has since stepped down from the position.

“There’s a lot of knowledge that I had that I couldn’t just pass it on,” Wilgus said. “I love LCA so much. Once you’ve been a part of something for so long, it’s always in your heart.”

She noted that in a small school like LCA, everyone wears a lot of hats. In addition to a teacher and administrator, Wilgus at one point was also the senior leader, the senior teacher, yearbook advisor, student council and all sorts of administrative work. 

Wilgus’ passion for LCA and helping kids has not stopped her from fully retiring. As of June, Wilgus is on the school board, hoping to still see some things be accomplished. 

Even though she did originally plan on fully retiring, Wilgus knew it was something she could not just give up completely. 

“I won’t lie, I do like sleeping and my husband was retiring at the same time, so we were hoping to have some freedom,” Wilgus said. “But the more I thought about it, I knew my heart was still here.”

Wilgus thought about ways she could still continue to serve the school that was not on a day-to-day basis. She thought about being a substitute, but ultimately decided being on the board would have the most positive impact. 

After knowing Douglas Smith for seven years, Wilgus thought he would be the perfect administrator to follow after her. Smith, who recently retired from public education, knew that after the first conversation this was something he was meant to do.

Smith comes from down the road at Wright City R-II School District. Smith has been at Wright City for 14 years. For the past six years, he has served as the assistant superintendent for the district. Before this, Smith was a middle school principal, an assistant principal, an athletic director, basketball coach, track coach and english teacher.

Smith never planned on fully retiring, only retiring from public education. 

“He has the heart for LCA, which has been so important to me and his record speaks for itself,” Wilgus said. “I know he cares about the school and there’s a lot more that I couldn’t do, so I would like him to take it to the next level.”

Wilgus recalls a couple years back, she discussed with Smith about her retiring soon. Smith mentioned he always wanted to work at a small Christian school. The two joked about it a little bit over the years, but when the time came, Wilgus mentioned Smith’s name to the board.

“[I took the job at LCA] for a number of reasons,” Smith said. “I value my Christian beliefs as well as education.”

While Smith does plan on trying to start a track program at LCA, he does not think he will be a coach in the near future. Instead, Smith wants more time to watch his daughter compete in collegiate track and field at Missouri S&T. 

Smith notes that he is very big on teacher development and strong academic performance, in addition to adding in Christian values.

“I just want to make sure that kids who attend school there walk out with a strong Christian foundation and faith as well as a really high quality academic education,” Smith said. 

When asked about Wright City, Smith stated, “I leave that place very proud. I am very proud of the fact that the kids who attend school there are getting a good education. Our performance shows the efforts of the administrators and teachers who have made that possible.” 

While Wilgus will not be completely detached from LCA, she reflected on her time there.

“If you ask anybody one word that describes LCA, everybody says it’s like family. We worked really hard to maintain that kind of family culture,” Wilgus said.

She added that everyone is close knit and come together as a community, something not everyone gets at a workplace. 

“You know once you’re my student, you’re like my family. The only thing you can’t ask me for is an allowance,” Wilgus laughed. 

Wilgus hopes that she will be remembered as someone that had a positive impact on her students. She recalled one student that really stuck out to her throughout the years. During her time as a teacher, her students kept journals that she would collect at the end of the school year for a grade.

One student wrote that they struggled that year with their faith and everything else, but Wilgus was the reason why they came to school everyday. The student went further on to say that Wilgus was always there for them and would never know the impact she made on them.

"I want my students to know somebody cared about them,” Wilgus said. “LCA is an awesome school. We might not be perfect, but it’s a great place for kids. I will hold my memories dear to my heart.” 

Liberty Christian