10 Most Beautiful 2012

Meet the 20 women who were chosen as finalists to compete in the 417 Magazine 10 Most Beautiful Women contest.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

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Chris Mendel, 45

Occupation: Elementary Principal with Springfield Public Schools
City: Springfield
Children: 18-year-old Emily, 21-year-old Joey

What is your charity of choice?

The Kitchen, Inc. One of my favorite Catholic charities is The Kitchen. I have always been moved by its story and how just one individual, Sister Lorraine, was able to make such a positive impact on the lives of the poor and homeless. Because of her efforts, what started as a soup kitchen in the St. Agnes Cafeteria back in 1983 has now evolved into The Kitchen, which is now the largest provider of services for homeless children and families in southwest Missouri.

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?

Humility, a great sense of humor, love for your family, putting others’ needs first, being an optimist, seeing the good in people, and being a great listener.

Why do you think you’re a 10 Most Beautiful Women finalist?

I am guessing that the person who nominated me is quite convincing and persuasive.

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations?

As a former teacher and current principal in the Springfield Public Schools for the past 20 years, I have had wonderful experiences working with community organizations and Partners in Education. I think it’s very important to teach our young people the importance of giving back to the community, even in simple ways like asking students to bring 50 cents to wear a hat and then give all the donations to a charity. Or having students donate clothing to The Clothing Bank. Over the years, I have spearheaded or partnered with other staff in raising funds for charities and organizations including The Kitchen, Community Blood Center, Humane Society of Southwest Missouri and Isabel’s House. I also enjoy running in charity 5K and 10K races to help support area organizations.

How are those experiences meaningful to you?

It’s always humbling to see how willing children are to give up their allowance for a week or empty their piggy banks for a good cause. Knowing how much we can all make a difference to make our community an even better place is very meaningful for me.

Tell us what you do for a living:

I am proud to say that I belong to the best profession in the world, being an elementary school principal!

What has been your proudest moment?

As far as a moment that is career related: When I was named the new principal at David Harrison Elementary ranks right up there with proudest moments. I had the distinct privilege of selecting my own staff, an honor that most principals don’t get to experience since new school buildings aren’t built very often in a community. As far as a personal proudest moment: Seeing both of my kids graduate from Springfield Public Schools and move on to college to explore careers in communications (Joey) and law (Emily).

What has been your biggest hurdle to overcome?

My son has had to deal with autoimmune diseases his whole life. While this has been a tremendous challenge for our family, he has really taught me the meaning of life: How important it is not to take things for granted, how to be resilient, how to not sweat the small stuff and how important it is to build positive relationships with friends, family and co-workers.

What are three words that describe you?

Social, active, reflective.

What’s your favorite feature about yourself?

I am very blessed to have good health and for that, I am very thankful. When I turned 40 I began a running regimen that I’ve stuck to that has helped me stay focused and motivated.

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman?

My mom, Maureen, and my grandma, Nellie, were the most beautiful women in my eyes when I was growing up. Not only did they give me all the security, love and support that every child deserves, they also helped shape me in being who I am today. I have such fond memories of listening to their stories and would always get such a kick out of seeing both of them crack up—so much so that they would cry.

What’s your favorite source of inspiration?

The teachers at David Harrison Elementary are my greatest inspiration. They are so amazing. Their tireless efforts in meeting the needs of our students never goes unnoticed. Their vast talents, creativity and willingness to serve our students makes my job very easy. I learn from them every day.

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?

Everyone is beautiful in at least one way. Some women have a great sense of humor. Others are great listeners. Others are great mothers. Some are really athletic. Others are compassionate. Others are extremely loyal. Some are incredibly confident, etc. Find what makes you beautiful and build on that.

What are your favorite ways to spend a day off?

Going shopping with friends and family, getting a pedicure, going on a 4-mile run, spending time on Table Rock Lake, traveling and playing a little three-card poker is always fun.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession would be my family.

What is your Facebook status right now?


If you could have one talent that you don’t currently have, what would it be?

Being able to do a back handspring.

What’s something that might surprise us about you, or a story you love to tell?

A guilty pleasure I have is catching up on my favorite soap opera, The Young and the Restless. People have told me before that I’m a pretty good ping pong player. I have fished in bass tournaments with my dad. When I was a junior in high school my family was vacationing in the Table Rock area and on our way to Silver Dollar City and we were stuck in traffic on Highway 76 (imagine that). My brother, a cousin and I were in the back of a camper, and my brother and cousin were goofing around out of boredom. My brother decided to throw a potato at my face (like a baseball) and my nose ended up laying on the left side of my face, obviously broken. Instead of spending that day at SDC, I ended up having emergency surgery at Skaggs Hospital.

Head to voting!

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