Steven D. Edwards, Glendale High School, Class of 1984
When Steve Edwards was 22 years old, he set a goal to become a chief executive officer by age 45. He accomplished that goal when CoxHealth named him president and CEO at age 45. He officially took the reins of one of the nation's top 100 hospitals at 46.
As a high school student, Edwards worked as a grounds crew member and orderly at CoxHealth. That experience inspired him to pursue a career path in hospital administration. After graduating from Glendale High School, he obtained a bachelor's degree from Drury University and then went on to earn his master's degree in health administration at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He completed his post-graduate fellowship at Baylor University Medical Center and worked for the chief operating officer at Baylor Health Care System before returning to Springfield.
Edwards became an assistant administrator at Cox Medical Center South in April 1992 and served in multiple other leadership positions before becoming CoxHealth president and CEO in 2012. He has been an instrumental figure in dozens of projects, which contributed to making CoxHealth the award-winning health system it is today.
Through it all, Edwards has stayed firmly rooted in his community. He met his wife in high school, and they later decided to raise their three children in Springfield. His dedication to improving health in the Ozarks became a passion. He was a founder of the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks, and he serves on Drury University's Board of Trustees, in addition to many community boards.
Edwards says he considers himself fortunate to be in a position to help others because a select few chose to help him when he was in school. He remains grateful to the teachers who helped him as a student, and now, he tries to share with others a key lesson he learned from them: If you believe in people and are kind to them, you may help uncover a hidden talent that could be used to change the world.
Dr. Anthony Hlavacek, Kickapoo High School, Class of 1992
Dr. Anthony Hlavacek has known what he wanted to do with his life since he was 10 years old. “We dissected a cow’s heart in fourth grade, and ever since then I wanted to be a doctor,” he says. Always a lover of learning, he says his teachers instilled in him a fascination with science. But beyond that, he learned the importance of continually studying and having a good work ethic, and how to use those skills to help others around him. He moved on from fourth grade into middle school and high school, and after graduating from Kickapoo High School in 1992 he went to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, to study pre-med and biology.
He completed medical school at Baylor College of Medicine, followed by a pediatrics residency at Texas Children’s Hospital. Then his fellowship took him to the Medical University of South Carolina to specialize in pediatric cardiology. He’s still there helping kids in the Children’s Hospital, but his heart extends overseas as well.
In 2006, Dr. Hlavacek and his family started going to Haiti to help with an orphanage and build a support system around it. They set up a charity organization that gets the orphanage and the children the support they need, and they helped set up a clinic and malnutrition program on the grounds that serve the entire community.
“When I first started, I would see lots of patients,” he says. “But they didn’t have problems specific to (what I could treat), so we wanted to support the doctors that are already there.” Dr. Hlavacek and his group helped train local doctors and nurses, so they could continue to help their Haitian neighbors after the Hlavacek family returned to the states. Now, when Hlavacek visits regularly, he sees kids who are suspected to have a heart condition and finds solutions in his area of expertise.
Dr. Hlavacek still credits his time in Springfield for giving him the tools to succeed. He says he remembers teachers and coaches encouraging him to do his best and to step up and be a leader. He participated in student government, and was student body vice president his senior year. “I tried to lead where I could, and that translated into being involved in the community rather than just attending,” he says.
Susan Everett Provance, Glendale High School, Class of 1971
When Susan Everett Provance attended Glendale High School, there were no official female sports offered but that didn't stop her from pursuing her passion. She was a Scottie where she played the snare drum and played on the basketball, volleyball and track teams in one-day city competitions. These onetime 'Sports Days' would soon lead to the start of Springfield Public Schools girls athletic teams. She was a big sports fan and never missed a GHS football or basketball game.
Her love for sports turned into a career and a passion for providing Springfield youth a wide variety of options to participate in sports.
Getting her start as office assistance for the physical education teachers at Glendale, she was asked to help teach golf. She fell in love with teaching sports and went on to attend University of Tulsa where she earned a K-12 degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She played sports in college and returned to the area to teach elementary and middle school P.E. and coach girls volleyball, basketball and track at Willard.
After four years there, she settled in at Parkview High School, teaching P.E. and health and coaching girls basketball, volleyball, softball and boys and girls tennis for 26 years. "It was the best 26 years of my life," she says.
After retiring, Provance taught classes in the physical education department at Southwest Baptist University and worked as assistant softball coach for Coach Cindy Snead.
In 2006, Provance began a second career with Springfield-Greene County Park Board that allowed her to expand athletic opportunities for area youth, including Springfield Public Schools students. As a community recreation administrator, she has overseen youth and adult sports programs and community tennis as well as currently serving as a liaison for the Park Board's partnership with SPS and School Park after-school programs. Thousands of Springfield students have benefited from recreation programs she has led, including tennis, volleyball, archery and teambuilding activities that engage students of all ages and ability levels.
Provance says ultimately, she just wants children to enjoy learning and athletics as much as she did. "My job is to make sports fun for a lifetime," she says.