Lee’s Summit R-7 Community Connections highlights the many contributions to the community made by school district employees. If you would like to recommend an R-7 employee for this feature, please send the employee’s name and a few sentences about how he or she contributes to the community to Kelly Wachel at email@example.com. Contributions featured should be made by the employee in an area outside of the staff member’s job.
Shelly Shumate’s pay-it-forward philosophy has made a difference in the lives families throughout the school district. Mrs. Shumate, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Transportation Department training coordinator, volunteers her time to help organize a number of charitable activities among the school district’s transportation staff members while also reaching out to others in the community.
“I get a lot out of helping others,” she said. “I believe what you give comes back to you. Every day I pray that I can be a blessing to someone else.”
Within the Transportation Department, Mrs. Shumate organizes approximately 40 transportation staff members to walk together in Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation’s Race for the Future 5K run/walk. “It is really important for us to step up and do our part to raise money for kids,” she said.
She also organizes several charitable activities among the Transportation staff members including an annual food drive for Lee’s Summit Social Services as well as Christmas gifts for the organization’s families in need. In previous years, she helped with the department’s Toys for Tots drive.
During the fall, Mrs. Shumate has assisted with Transportation’s community outreach efforts at the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Oktoberfest. Transportation staff members volunteer to work at an Oktoberfest booth where children learn safety tips from Buster the Bus, a mini talking school bus.
“We really get close to our kids and the parents — they become our family,” she said about the bus drivers and the families on their routes.
Mrs. Shumate has worked for the Transportation Department for 16 years including 11 years as a bus driver before becoming a trainer and now the training coordinator. She is a fourth generation Lee’s Summit resident.
Encouraging a team atmosphere within the Transportation family is important to Mrs. Shumate. She helps organize the annual outing to a Missouri Mavericks hockey game, which traditionally has around 100 employees and family members attending.
During her years as a bus driver, she enjoyed decorating her own school bus for holidays and now helps others with bus decorations to encourage a positive environment. She has been a frequent volunteer when the Transportation Department assists with Lee’s Summit North High School’s annual Safe Halloween event and volunteered at this fall’s Halloween event at Longview Farm Elementary. She has also been a volunteer for the Transportation Department’s Book Buddies program at Prairie View Elementary.
Away from her job, she keeps her community service low-key but shared that she enjoys informally adopting a family during the holidays or paying it forward by purchasing someone’s drive-through meal or paying for a stranger’s Christmas layaway gift.
Ken Hill, a paraprofessional at Hilltop School in Lee’s Summit, shares his time and talents to assist and support children who are victims of abuse. Through Bikers Against Child Abuse™ (B.A.C.A.), Mr. Hill helps the charitable organization meet its goal of creating a safer environment for abused children.
“I have a B.S. in Education, and am a former teacher, as well as having had a long career in the pharmaceutical industry.” Mr. Hill said. “I am currently working at Hilltop School as a paraprofessional. This is a challenging position, but along with the many challenges come many rewarding moments. My work at Hilltop got me thinking about volunteering my free time with an organization that helps abused children.”
Mr. Hill added, “I am a long-time motorcycle rider, and thought Biker’s Against Child Abuse™ might be a good place to devote my time.”
B.A.C.A.™ is an international organization with chapters in most states in the U.S. as well as numerous foreign countries. B.A.C.A. International, Inc.™ is a tax exempt 501 (C) (3) corporation. The mission statement for B.A.C.A.™ states: “Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (B.A.C.A.)™ exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.”
“One example of what we do as an organization is to accompany our wounded heroes to court,” Mr. Hill said. “Our presence in the courtroom gives the child the courage to not be afraid to testify against their abuser. This helps fulfill our mission of helping wounded children to not be afraid of the world in which they live. I am proud to be affiliated with this group of dedicated men and women whose goal is to help abused children. It is an honor to ride alongside all of them.”
For more information about Bikers Against Child Abuse™, an international tax-exempt organization, visit Baca World.
Hilltop School is a residential facility operated by the Jackson County Court System. Since the facility is located within the boundaries of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, all educational services are provided by the R-7 School District.
Lee’s Summit R-7 Community Connections highlights the many contributions to the community made by school district employees. If you would like to recommend an R-7 employee for this feature, please send the employee’s name and a few sentences about how he or she contributes to the community to Janice Phelan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions featured should be made by the employee in an area outside of the staff member’s job.
Army High School Coach of the Month during a June 21 presentation by local service members from the US Army Second Airborne Unit. Mr. Cox is a volunteer coach who also works as the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s director of purchasing and distribution.
A Lee’s Summit resident, Mr. Cox was recognized for his development of high-school players both on and off the field. His team, Sporting Lee’s Summit SC U17, had an outstanding season going 29-2-4 and capturing the USA Cup National Championship.
Mr. Cox and his two assistant coaches, Brian Young and Justin Lee, focus on recruiting and developing exceptional players with “high character” who perform in the classroom as well. The team maintained an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or greater this school year. Many of the players on the U17 team not only won All State, All District or All Conference awards, they were also on the honor roll both semesters.
When asked about the award Mr. Cox said that he was “very humbled and proud to accept this award. This is a team award, not meant for one individual. The boys work extremely hard on and off the field, and they deserve all the credit. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the US Army and all they do for us and my family, especially after losing my nephew in Afghanistan fighting alongside his team of US Army 10th Mountain soldiers.”
Members of Sporting Lee’s Summit SC pictured are Garet Blankman, Dylan Fox, Kyle Handy, Juan Garcia, Noe Sosa, Dawson Lee, Rhys Harrington, Hunter Hampton, Max Harrington, Israel Rocha, James Wiltfang, Brandon Landaverry, Connor Young, Hayden Manthey, Cole DeRousse, Kameron Cox and coaches Brian Young and Justin Lee. Mr. Cox is on the front row, second from right.
Teri Curp, a learning lab, business/SMARTS teacher at Summit Lakes Middle School, uses her time and talents to help hundreds of children and families through Coldwater, a faith-based, nonprofit organization serving the Lee’s Summit area. The organization’s mission is to “build friendships that foster hope in our community while providing food and clothing for those in need.”
Mrs. Curp became involved in Coldwater in 2011 by bringing her husband and three children to the organization’s twice monthly food and clothing pantry days. Mrs. Curp soon began helping with Coldwater’s summer lunch program where she served as the shopper and provided administrative and organizational support.
“There was a need to update the webpage, so I took on that role as well,” she said. “My family volunteered to serve at a few barbeques at local neighborhoods, and they were really fun. So when the coordinator position opened up, I volunteered for that.”
As the barbeque coordinator, Mrs. Curp is responsible for shopping, preparation, administration and volunteer recruitment. In addition, she assists with Coldwater’s SHARELink program, helping the organization distribute larger items such as furniture.
“I maintain a spreadsheet of requests and match items to people who need them,” she added.
Another of Mrs. Curp’s volunteer jobs at Coldwater involves matching families in need with donors during the holidays.
“At Christmastime, Coldwater has over 500 children signed up in need of Christmas assistance,” she said. “I coordinate over 200 of the adoptions through Journey Church International, as well as through family and friends. I also collect the gifts, help sort and check them and help distribute them on Pantry Day.”
Mrs. Curp said she and her family have benefitted greatly through their involvement in the charitable organization.
“Because of Coldwater, my children have grown up serving others,” she said. “It has been something our family has embraced together. I just believe that we are called to bless others since we have been so blessed.”
Mrs. Curp has been a Lee’s Summit R-7 staff member for 27 years and has worked at SLMS for 14 years. Before moving to Summit Lakes, she taught at Westview, Underwood and Trailridge Elementary Schools.
Stacie Kubicsko, a Lee’s Summit R-7 school nurse, is changing lives for the better – one smile at a time. A board member for the Missouri chapter of Smile for a Lifetime Scholarship Program, the Trailridge Elementary and Summit Lakes Middle School staff member has been involved in providing scholarships for orthodontic services since fall 2014.
Young people under the age of 18 may apply to Smile for a Lifetime for orthodontic services. Since 2009, Fry Orthodontics has awarded more than $400,000 worth of orthodontic services to children in the Kansas City area through the Smile for a Lifetime Scholarship Program.
Ms. Kubicsko said she was contacted by Dr. Zach Williams who asked her if she would be willing to become a board member. “It is such a good feeling to be part of a team that helps those with a legitimate financial need who otherwise would not be able to afford braces.”
Joining the board seemed like a proactive way to help children be successful, she added.
“Dental services are hard to find for children who are uninsured or underinsured,” Ms. Kubicsko said. “Our district nurses work hard to facilitate resources and dental care for students throughout the school year. Orthodontic care has a tremendous impact on adolescents and their self-image. It can also potentially impact them through adulthood and boost self-confidence.”
The Smile for a Lifetime Scholarship Program Board members meet quarterly to review applications and award scholarships.
Both the Missouri and Kansas Chapter of Smile for a Lifetime is sponsored by Fry Orthodontics Specialists. For additional information about the program, visit Fry Orthodontics.
Jewelee Lukowski, Summit Lakes Middle School art teacher, shares her artistic talents and her compassion for others to help children cope with loss as a volunteer for Solace House. For the past seven years, Mrs. Lukowski has facilitated a support group for 10- to 12-year-old boys at Solace House, a grieving center for children, individuals and families who have experienced the death of a loved one.
“The program is designed to guide the kids through the grief journey and provide coping skills,” Mrs. Lukowski said. “The kids share, listen, learn and heal.”
The Lee’s Summit R-7 teacher uses a curriculum that incorporates art therapy to help children honor their loved ones and manage their emotional issues while creating a work of art.
Mrs. Lukowski first became involved in Solace House following a difficult year at her school when both a staff member and a student passed away. At the same time, she was serving as School Assistance Program (SAP) chairperson for SLMS. At a meeting for SAP representatives, she heard a presentation from Solace House officials about how the organization could serve as a resource for students.
“After hearing about Solace House, I knew that it was a place I wanted to be a part of,” Mrs. Lukowski added.
At Solace House, she said she is grateful to be able to help the children get a little bit closer to finding happiness during the weekly sessions.
“You cannot imagine the variety of experiences these children bring to the group,” she said. “Some are so horrific that I go home and cry. The amazing part is these young boys help each other because they have something so difficult in common.”
Children involved in the program do not typically have friends to talk to about their loss, Mrs. Lukowski said. “It is awesome the relationships that are built and the things that these kids share with each other. Usually, the entire family are involved in groups on the same evening so they can be healing together.”
Mrs. Lukowski added that Solace House is the only organization of its kind in the Midwest. Owned by KC Hospice, Solace House provides its services at no cost.
“We are so lucky to have this non-profit organization in our community,” she said. “It is located in Kansas City, but I have had numerous children from Lee’s Summit and even several who attend my school in my group.”
For more information about Solace House, visit Kansas City Hospice.
Jewelee Lukowski’s photograph is included as well as her van Gogh style self-portrait.
For Chris Eisenmenger and her daughter, Lacey Rozycki, reaching out to others is an important part of everyday life within this close-knit family. Mrs. Eisenmenger is an administrative assistant at the Stansberry Leadership Center, and Mrs. Rozycki teaches special education at Summit Pointe Elementary. Their nearly three-year journey demonstrates the strength of family and the power of love.
“The story began when John and I started fostering babies in 2006,” said Mrs. Eisenmenger. Her husband, John Eisenmenger, is a retired R-7 elementary principal, and the couple has been active in the community for many years. In all, the Eisenmengers cared for 13 foster children over the next six years. Madelyn, known as Maddie, went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Eisenmenger in April 2010 at just 6 months of age. She immediately captured the Eisenmengers’ hearts with her bright-eyed, toothless smile, also touching Mrs. Rozycki and her husband, Joe, in a special way.
Initially, Maddie was not eligible for adoption, but after finding out that the goal changed for the little girl, Maddie went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Rozycki in June 2011 as the couple began the lengthy process required to begin doing foster care and started her adoption journey. Approximately 17 months after moving in with the Rozyckis, Maddie was officially adopted by the couple. With her adoption, Maddie became the couple’s daughter and the Eisenmengers’ granddaughter.
“Sometimes when you offer your services to others, it can be a life-changing event,” Mrs. Eisenmenger said. “This one is a true gift from God, and our family will never be the same.”
Since officially adopting Maddie, the Rozyckis have welcomed a second daughter to their family – Alayna, born during September 2013.
Curt Cook is dedicated to embracing the many cultures within our community – both in his job as a Lee’s Summit R-7 teacher and school diversity coordinator as well as his role as a commissioner on the Lee’s Summit Human Relations Commission, a volunteer board promoting mutual understanding, respect and inclusion. Mr. Cook has served for four years on the Human Relations Commission, which meets monthly at Lee’s Summit City Hall. He also is in charge of marketing and communications for the City of Lee’s Summit’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
Mr. Cook has worked for the R-7 School District for 15 years, currently as a social studies teacher and diversity coordinator at Lee’s Summit High School and as an international studies teacher at Summit Technology Academy. “The Human Relations Commission’s mission is very similar to my work as the school diversity coordinator,” Mr. Cook said, “which is to instill a sense of belonging to all students of all cultures. And in international studies, we discuss diverse cultures every day. So the commission was a natural outlet for something that I have been passionate about for quite some time.”
The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is conducted by the Human Relations Commission, and Mr. Cook was asked to coordinate marketing for the January event both as a member of the commission and based on his own experiences in communications and marketing. “I enjoy working with the MLK Committee in developing interesting and engaging ways in which we can communicate the message,” he added.
Mr. Cook also encourages others to get involved in community service, including opportunities through the City of Lee’s Summit. “Take the city’s free Citizen Leadership Academy or go online and look at the boards and commissions to see where you can get involved,” he said. “We live in a democracy and we are lucky to live in a city that encourages citizen input.”
He added that it has been a remarkable experience to be part of this energetic, passionate and committed group of people. “I feel a sense of accomplishment every time I get to be a spokesperson for that mission,” he said.