Chad Rollins sprints up a short hill after completing a lap around the track at Glendale High School during an early morning workout in below freezing weather. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Meet Chad Rollins: Frost covered the turf around the Glendale High School track as Rollins led five workout partners on a warm-up jog just before 5:30 a.m. on Feb. 11. The temperature was in the twenties. The moon was one of the few lights turned on. And Rollins was in his element.

After he turned 40, Rollins said, he started doing pre-dawn Saturday circuit workouts alone, and it reshaped him physically and mentally. He wanted to become a leader and help others through transformations of their own. Dozens have joined the proud Glendale grad in recent years, and he said it’s helped some people lose weight, others train for their respective athletics and one maintain sobriety. He gave fist bumps to the five who braved frigid February temps at his most recent workout, and encouraged them incrementally — “One step at a time;” “just 20 more.”

A licensed pharmacist, Rollins said that running in the April 4 election for the Springfield Public Schools board is a move into a new realm for him, but also an extension of his recent efforts to lead positively and by example. He noted several relevant experiences that will help him. He said he served on the admissions board while enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy. And, over the past 14 years, his seven children have advanced through the SPS district.

Chad Rollins, top center, candidate for school board in Springfield, leads his Saturday morning fitness bootcamp in a series of crunches. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

Points of interest: Rollins said frustrations with district policies were not what drew his interest in a board seat, but he has views on how the district has handled some recent decisions and the direction the school board should help steer the district. 

Rollins said mandatory masking was the wrong way to go for kids and said the focus should not have been on masking school-age children but instead on treating and quarantining the sick. 

Chad Rollins does jumping jacks in 24-degree weather before sunrise on a February Saturday morning. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

With his elementary-age children, Rollins said the district’s decision to keep Chromebooks at school has been beneficial. 

“They’re not coming home anymore, and I see that they’re having more work (in) workbooks with pencil and paper,” he said. “And I think that’s good, because you’ve got to — your brain learns through that much better than it does looking at a screen. And, you know, I think as they get older, I still believe that books and pen and paper are the way to go. But obviously, you have to have the technology. Because when you get out in the real world, you’re going to have both.” 

During his interview with a set of Springfield NEA union members, he said he was asked his views on the district’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. He told the Springfield Daily Citizen what he told them. He said that the Office of Equity and Diversity “seems like it has a lot of controversy over it.” He said that the board should look at whether or not the office is helping with student academics.

“And if it’s not, it might need to be taken away,” he said. “That’s my opinion.”

Rollins said that “anytime you’re singling out one group of people based on race or sexual orientation, I feel that’s a little bit prejudiced in itself,” and said that regardless of background or orientation, every child should be given the “same exact path to success.”

“I think that each individual person is responsible for their own excellence in life, but they need to be shown that they can all have the same possibility for anyone,” he said. Public schools, he added, are a place where kids can realize they have a future no matter where they came from.

While the three-tiered school start time system has not negatively impacted his own family, Rollins said he’s heard from parents who are struggling with a schedule necessitated by the bus driver shortage. He said the district needs to explore more options, like the possibility of busing different age groups at the same time.

Why did he decide to run?: “I felt like I had a lot of good critical thinking skills that could help out, and a lot of good intentions for just wanting to serve and make our school system great,” he said. “I really enjoyed going to school here in Springfield, and I felt like I got a great education and I felt like it was my turn to give back to the community and be a good leader for this area.”

Find Chad Rollins online atchadrollins4sps.comChad Rollins 4SPS on Facebook

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson