Lieberman honored for service to district


Joy Lieberman had an agenda in mind when she attended her first school board meeting in the 1970s. She wanted to address the board about her children and other students being forced to cross a very busy Olive Boulevard — without any stoplights — to get to school. People were surprised to see her there because it was unusual for anyone outside of school board members and support staff to attend those meetings said Lieberman. It was the first time she got the “political bug” and it stuck for good.

It took awhile, but thanks to Lieberman’s persistence, a stoplight was finally installed at Olive and 81st Street providing a much safer environment for students attending Brittany Woods Middle School. She even went to Jefferson City and testified before the state highway commission on the matter.

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“It is probably the only stoplight in the state of Missouri that had its own dedication,” Lieberman said. “I got to push the button to start it up.”

On April 5, Lieberman was honored for her 24 years on the University City Board of Education. There were many dignitaries on hand to announce proclamations and resolutions in her honor. Fellow board members surprised her with a bouquet of flowers and the unveiling of a new school sign renaming the district’s alternative school program facility the Joy Lieberman Learning Center.

The alternative middle school and high school program was started in 1972. It provides a smaller more personalized atmosphere for students who are having difficulty thriving in a big school environment. Lieberman has been very supportive of the school while she was on the board and visited it on numerous occasions.

Lieberman was born and raised in St. Louis. She graduated from University City Senior High School and attended the University of Illinois in Champaign where she met her husband Larry. The two have been married for 57 years. They have five children who all graduated from UCHS. The family has been members of Central Reform Congregation since 1988.

A number of years later after attending her first school board meeting Lieberman was appointed to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. Her time on that board led her to a very strong feeling there wouldn’t be a need for such a commission if people were properly educated. By this time she had a unique insight into issues of diversity through her own children and their relationships.

“Our family looked like the United Nations,” Lieberman said.

Since her appointment, Lieberman has served the district in a variety of capacities. In addition to her work on the school board she has been on many boards and committees including: the Missouri School Boards’ Association and their regional leadership committee, the governing board of the Special School District and other organizations and agencies associated with learning. Lieberman is very passionate about the importance of public education.

“It is very important to have diversity in education: kids of different colors, religions, learning challenges and backgrounds,” Lieberman said. “Different kids from different backgrounds getting to understand one another and learning to get along. You can’t do that if you don’t have a viable, integrated system.”

She had always been active in parent teacher organizations and continued to attend a lot of school board meetings which were very controversial at the time. In September 1983 she was appointed to the school board to fill one of two vacancies. She ran for election to the position in the spring of 1984 and continued on the board until April 2007.

“I wouldn’t have stayed on if I didn’t love it,” Lieberman said. “It was hard work, lots of time but there were always new, interesting and exciting challenges.”