Lee's Summit R-7 School District
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Twelve Lee’s Summit R-7 School District teachers receive Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching Awards

To be recognized at April 10 community reception

Twelve Lee’s Summit R-7 School District educators were recently named Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching award winners. Recognized teachers are:

  • Kaleigh Bearce, Longview Farm Elementary School
  • Schelly Ethetton, Meadow Lane Elementary School
  • Alyson Fortney, Highland Park Elementary School
  • Jenny Johnson, Sunset Valley Elementary School
  • Ashley Jones, Lee’s Summit West High School
  • Blake Little, Lee’s Summit High School
  • Jodi Mahurin, Sunset Valley Elementary School
  • Chris Munce, Lee’s Summit High School
  • Lisa Oyler, Summit Technology Academy
  • Kenny Taylor, Bernard Campbell Middle School
  • Sara Witteman, Lee’s Summit North High School
  • Nichole Wood, Summit Ridge Academy  

All 12 recipients will be honored at a reception and program scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 10th at The Historic Longview Mansion in Lee’s Summit, 1200 SW Longview Park Dr. The reception is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the LSR7 School District, and all students, parents and community members are invited to attend. At approximately 5:00 p.m., a brief program highlighting each of the 12 Excellence In Teaching Award winners, as well as three Teachers of Distinction, will begin. The announcement of the 2019 Teacher of the Year will be made at the reception.

The Excellence In Teaching recipients were selected by a committee composed of representatives from the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, the business community and LSR7 staff.

Joining the twelve Excellence In Teaching Award winners, other finalists for 2019 Teacher of the Year include three Teachers of Distinction, former Excellence In Teaching recipients who were nominated for the award again this year. The Teachers of Distinction interviewing for Teacher of the Year are Matt Buxton, Lee’s Summit High School, Jonathan Krinke, Lee’s Summit North High School, and Marc Russell, Lee’s Summit High School.

Mrs. Kaleigh Bearce teaches third grade at Longview Farm Elementary School. She has been a teacher for 11 years, all in the Lee’s Summit District. For the past three years she has partnered with the Bed of Bags organization, educating students on the effects of plastic bags in our community while showing them a way to recycle by creating sleeping mats for the homeless.  Kaleigh has hosted two exchange students to develop an understanding of other cultures and to share ours. She continues to remain in contact with those students to connect with her third grade students in the classroom. Mrs. Bearce has a strong social media presence in order to learn from other educators and community leaders, along with connecting globally with other classrooms.

Mrs. Schelly Ethetton is a third grade teacher at Meadow Lane Elementary School.  She has been teaching for 22 years and has taught third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade, all in the Lee’s Summit School District, and all at her present school.  Mrs. Ethetton strives to create strong, partnering relationships with students and families. She has served as a representative on a number of building and district committees including the co-organizer of the Meadow Lane Elementary School Spelling Bee that was established 21 years ago. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Ethetton has mentored high school students along with student teacher and university teaching candidates.

Ms. Alyson Fortney is a third grade teacher at Highland Park Elementary School.  She was a reading specialist for two years and has been a classroom teacher for 13 years, all of which have been in the Lee’s Summit School District.  While at Highland Park, Ms. Fortney has established a homework club to help support students in kindergarten through third grade as well as hosts a summer book club for her third graders.  She coaches a Girls on the Run team, averaging 40 girls each season and also teaches district graduate courses for teachers ranging in topics from Reading Fluency to Critical Thinking. Ms. Fortney was previously a Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation PEAK grant recipient, as well as a 2018 recipient of the NEA/KCTV5 Read to Achieve Award.

Mrs. Jenny Johnson teaches second grade at Sunset Valley Elementary School.  She has taught for nine years, all in the Lee’s Summit School District and is a proud lifelong resident of Lee’s Summit. Jenny established and leads a broadcasting team for students in grades fourth through sixth; in which students design and lead Sunset Valley’s building –wide monthly spirit assemblies.  She was involved with the development of a mentor program with Sunset Valley’s business partners, in order to provide real-world experiences for students. Mrs. Johnson fully funded a Donor’s Choose Flexible Seating Project to implement an innovative environment for the 21st century learner and became an ambassador for SeeSaw, as well as designed a free-inquiry model within the classroom, to allow students to customize their own learning activities, utilizing the grade level curriculum.  She has brought the Veterans Community Project to her classroom; having her students serve their community by sending cards and donations to the residents on major holidays. Outside of the classroom, she serves on the social media team and teaches Sunday school at her church.

Mrs. Ashley Jones is a science teacher at Lee’s Summit West High School.  She has been a teacher in Lee’s Summit for 8 years. While at LSW, Mrs. Jones was selected to be a part of the AVID Site Team to establish the AVID program at LSW and is a facilitator of AVID strategies and the implementation of Interactive Notebooks in Biology.  She assisted in the increase of student leadership and student-led opportunities through Student Senate and by working with two seniors on their Student of the Year Campaign for LLS. Ashley also coaches cheerleading at LSW and has guided teams to numerous winning seasons at competitions, including 1st Place at Regionals six times and two 1st Place Award of Excellence at the state competition. In addition, Mrs. Jones was a BTAP mentor for first year teachers at LSW and was selected to be a BTAP I facilitator for the district.  She continues her professional development by attending and presenting at workshops on a variety of topics both building and district wide.

Mr. Blake Little is a social studies teacher at Lee’s Summit High School.  He has been teaching for 17 years, all of which have been taught in the Lee’s Summit School District; 11 years at Lee’s Summit West High School and 6 years at Lee’s Summit High School.  For the past five years Mr. Little has been the IB coordinator and after returning to LSHS, he became the head boys’ basketball coach. Mr. Little was chosen as the 2015 Daughters of the American Revolution Teacher of the Year, was named the 2016 Paul Lambert Award Winner – Greater Kansas City Basketball Coach of the Year.  He is the current president of the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association, a six time NHS induction speaker at LSWHS and three time senior class favorite teacher at LSWHS.

Mrs. Jodi Mahurin is a school counselor at Sunset Valley Elementary School.  Mrs. Mahurin has spent 22 years in education. She began her career as an elementary teacher, first, student teaching at Trailridge Elementary School.  She served as a counselor for 3 years at Hickman Mills, and then had the opportunity to return to Lee’s Summit to begin her tenure at Prairie View and Woodland Elementary Schools.  Since 2009 she has been happy to call Sunset Valley Elementary her home. She is a published author, with contributions from 15 Woodland Elementary students; New Kid on the Block is a book about students being new to a school.  She is involved with a whole-school fundraising opportunity for students in need for the holidays and created and implemented the “Bucket Lesson”, a favorite tradition for students and staff.  Jodi serves as a member of the Suicide Prevention Elementary Curriculum Writing team and has also provided a template for our crisis plan and contributed to the Postvention Suicide Prevention team. She participates in a number of school and district level teams and has attended and presented at a number of professional workshops.

Mr. Chris Munce is a vocal music teacher for Lee’s Summit High School.  He has spent the past 16 years teaching and 13 of those with the Lee’s Summit School District.  Mr. Munce has facilitated the LSHS Choral Program’s collaboration with many professional musicians, commissioning of new works and concert collaborations with numerous University ensembles.  He is the founder of arts non-profit Kantorei KC that serves student and adult musicians across the KC Metro and the Kantorei Summer Choral Institute that provides music education experiences for students from across the country.  Mr. Munce is the host of one of the top rated choral music podcasts on iTunes, Choralosophy. Chris is a frequent presenter at State and National chapter meetings of the American Choral Directors Association. In addition, Chris has led his church’s music ministry, helping to raise funds for a local African refugee community, and he has contributed to the formation of a choir of refugees.

Mrs. Lisa Oyler is a business teacher, teaching cutting edge technology for juniors and seniors at Summit Technology Academy.  Of her 21 years in teaching, she has taught the past 18 years in the Lee’s Summit School District at Summit Technology.  As a cyberpatriot coach since 2011, she has coached 5 high school teams and two middle school teams to the national competition.  With over 6,300 teams competing, her teams have placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in the nation and earned over $24,000 in scholarship money.  Mrs. Oyler holds several certifications in the technology industry.  She is a member of many professional organizations, has presented at conferences for numerous years and spends much of her time continuing her own education. In 2015 she was recognized as the Air Force Association Teacher of the Year and in that same year received the Lee’s Summit School District’s October Learning for Life Award.

Mr. Kenny Taylor is a broadcasting and video production teacher at Bernard Campbell Middle School.  Mr. Taylor has taught eight years, all of which have been in the Lee’s Summit School District at BCMS.  He spent the first seven years teaching English Language Arts before his new role. He has led a staff of 150 students this year to develop a program to produce Mustang TV, a weekly news show for Bernard Campbell Middle School.  Mr. Taylor has also served as a director for over 30 student productions including eight talent and award shows. He spearheaded LSR7 Middle School EdCamps to give teachers at all three middle schools choice and a voice in their professional development and has developed educational content in ELA for a YouTube channel with subscribers around the globe. Outside of the classroom, Kenny has served on the board of directors for Summit Theatre Group and for the past 15 years has been a middle school programming director for his church.

Ms. Sara Witteman is an IB Social and Cultural Anthropology teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School.  She has been teaching at LSN for all 18 years of her teaching career. Ms. Witteman has taught both English and Social Studies classes and now has the unique opportunity of combining both of those in her current classroom. She is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities summer workshop grants and is an LSN Silver Shoe Award Winner.  Besides serving as the LSN representative on three different curriculum teams for the district, Sara is a member of the Superintendent’s League of Visionary Educators (LOVE) team, assisted in establishing the LSR7 middle school SMARTS program, and is an involved member of LS Cares, specifically working to prevent kids from risky behavior. She has continued her professional development by attending and presenting at numerous professional workshops.

Mrs. Nichole Wood is a science teacher at Summit Ridge Academy.  She has taught for 11 out of her 13 years in the Lee’s Summit School District.  Ms. Wood is a Trauma Informed Care trainer and presenter for schools in the district and state conferences.  She is her building’s technology representative, a member of the Student Assistance Program team for the past 11 years and coordinator the past four years.  Nichole helps to promote self-care habits for staff and is a Wellbeing Champion. In 2015 she was a recipient of a PEAK Grant and outside of her classroom, she volunteers at her parish and enjoys supporting many baseball and softball teams in the area.

Joining the twelve Excellence In Teaching Award winners, other finalists for 2019 Teacher of the Year include three Teachers of Distinction, former Excellence In Teaching recipients who were nominated for the award again this year. The Teachers of Distinction interviewing for Teacher of the Year are Matt Buxton, Lee’s Summit High School, Jonathan Krinke, Lee’s Summit North High School, and Marc Russell, Lee’s Summit High School.

Mr. Matt Buxton is an English teacher at Lee’s Summit High School.  He has been teaching for 13 years, with 11 of those years being in the Lee’s Summit School District.  Matt is a member of the English 9 and 10 curriculum writing team and has also begun the process of developing district summative assessments to be used in the 2019-2020 school year.  In addition to serving on several district and building committees, Matt is currently an LSR7 secondary host teacher for the Greater Kansas City Professional Development Network and through the years has presented at numerous workshops around the Kansas City metro. He was a mentor workshop teacher for the BTAP program, received a $2,500 grant from the Thank a Million Teachers Organization and has worked with the Lee’s Summit R-7 Chinese Exchange program.  He has been nominated for the Missouri Scholars Academy Citation of Excellence and received the Excellence In Teaching award in 2018, being nominated again this year.

Mr. Jonathan Krinke is a vocal music teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School.  He has been teaching for 14 years, 7 of those in the Lee’s Summit School District.  He is very active in and out of the classroom as he is the co-founder of the Missouri Choral Directors Association mentorship program for college students soon-to-be entering the education profession.  He organizes numerous performance opportunities for students locally, regionally and nationally including performances at world class venues such as Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and recently the Chicago’s Symphony Hall.  Recently Mr. Krinke and the LSN Combined Women’s Choir were selected to perform for the State Conference hosted by the Missouri Music Educators. He received the Excellence In Teaching award in 2017 and was nominated again this year.

Mr. Marc Russell is a journalism teacher at Lee’s Summit High School.  He has taught for 25 years, all of which have been at Lee’s Summit High School.  Mr. Russell is a former State Journalism Teacher of the Year and a finalist for National Journalism Teacher of the Year as well, a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Nationally Distinguished Advisor.  Marc has also received the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association Taft Award for continuing and outstanding service to student journalism. As an early adopter of Schoology and the building Schoology representative, Marc develops training materials and provides building in-service professional development on effective use of the classroom learning management system.  In addition, he develops multiple building initiatives to inspire the health of LSHS faculty as a member of the district Wellbeing Program Team. Mr. Russell presents annually at the Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association national conference for high school journalists as well as advises a nationally-recognized award-winning print and digital student magazine, The Hi-Life, considered among the preeminent student publications in the country.  He received the Excellence In Teaching award in 2007 and was nominated again this year.

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