Dr. Mary Sinclair brings meaningful perspectives to the Shawnee Mission school board.
Family. Mary and her family have a generational connection with the Shawnee Mission Public Schools. She is an SMEast Lancer alumna. Eight others from her family are SMSD alumni and one nephew is currently at East. Her children graduated from East in 2015 and 2018, both attended Highlands Elementary and Indian Hills Middle School. Her husband, Douglas Huffman, is a Professor of Science Education at the University of Kansas, researcher and faculty of the elementary teacher licensure program in the School of Education.
Education. Mary is a retired educational researcher. She has two graduate degrees, a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Education from Harvard University. She was a principal investigator with a Research I university team focused on student engagement and dropout prevention for youth with learning and behavioral disabilities. She managed federal and state research grants, oversaw budgets, daily operations, published in peer reviewed journals and taught graduate courses in educational research.
Advocacy. Mary has been advocating for adequate school funding and
pro-public education policies for nearly two decades, as an active member of the Kansas PTA and Game On for Kansas Schools. Prior to serving on the school board, she served as PTA Legislative Liaison for Highlands, Indian Hills, East and SMAC PTA, analyzing policy and funding issues and helping to communicate those issues to parents, teachers and officeholders. Examples of 2021 advocacy efforts include:
Panel member on KASB Roundtable Discussion (May 2021) ⎼ Legislative Wrap Up Panel speaking on behalf of the Kansas PTA.
OpEd in Kansas Reflector (Feb 2021) ⎼ This year’s voucher bills are only the latest efforts to privatize education in Kansas.
Mary has also been active with the district’s volunteer program since 2011. Prior to COVID, she was in the schools weekly as an MVP volunteer, which has kept her in touch with the daily commitment of teachers and building staff.
Leadership. Mary currently serves as the Vice President of the SMSD school board, the district’s representative on the Kansas Association of School Board’s Legislative Committee and Vice Chair of the District Finance and Facilities Committee. Outside the realm of the school board, she is a member of the Governor’s Council on Education. She served as the Highlands PTA President and is presently a member of the Kansas PTA advocacy team. She served on the Fairway Parks and Recreation committee for over a decade. Mary also Chairs the Board of her family’s 5th generation business.