Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Presidential Q&A: Molly Clemons, 1975-1977

Molly Clemons was only 27 when she became JEA president in 1975 and served one, two-year term. Always active in scholastic journalism and JEA, she received the Carl Towley award in 1980. Molly died in 2022 and Ron Clemons, her husband of 40 years, provided the following information.

Molly Clemons, JEA president 1975-1977.

What was the focus of her presidency?

As president, she had two passions: Student Press Rights and Write-offs. She even helped develop more Write-offs categories.

How did her involvement in JEA affect her career?

She always said JEA helped her develop further leadership roles — roles that led her down a different path. After she and Ron were married in 1982, she moved to Independence, Missouri, where, within a year, she was named assistant principal of Palmer Junior High School. She served in that position for six years and was named by Executive Editor Magazine one of the 100 Top Administrators in the Country.

How did her leadership role change?

She became associate principal, at Truman High School and for 10 years was one of Ron’s bosses. She was named director of Higher Education and Emergency Preparedness for the Independence School District. While at Palmer and Truman, she wrote the presentation that led to each school receiving the coveted Blue Ribbon Award from the United States Department of Education. She went to the White House to receive the award from the President.

What leadership roles did she have after she retired?

She became director of the George Caleb Bingham Academy of the Arts, a five-week summer program for outstanding students in art, creative media, music, or theater. She followed Ron as director after he retired from that position. One of the founders of the Academy, he was director for 15 years. In 2015 she and Ron were named co-executive directors of Music/Arts Institute, a non-profit school for private music lessons. She held both positions until her unexpected death Sept. 29, 2022. Two scholarships are given in her name and on Nov. 11, 2023, the group dedicated the new Molly Clemons Multipurpose Center.

What leadership roles did she have outside academics?

She was named president of the Independence Junior Service League and the Independence Youth Court. In 2020 she was named Independence Woman of the Year. She also served on the Truman Presidential Library Commission where she had the opportunity to meet past presidents and leading seniors who received the Harry S. Truman award. The Commission gave her the Harry S. Truman Citizen award posthumously in November 2023. She and Ron were named by the mayor as Independence Citizens of the Year in 2015. They both felt their time in JEA contributed to all of this.

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