Sunset Valley Elementary students enjoy produce from school garden

Sunset Valley Elementary students recently had the opportunity to try pickles made from cucumbers grown in the school’s community garden, known as the Jaguar Jungle. The garden was initiated with the help of Amy Mothersbaugh, a teacher at the school before moving to Longview Farm Elementary.

After this summer’s garden produced an abundance of cucumbers, Mrs. Mothersbaugh; her mother, Barb Knobbe; Connie Kingsley, school cafeteria manager; and Lori Danella of Lee’s Summit R-7 Nutrition Services worked together to turn the cucumbers into pickles. During late August, students at Sunset Valley had the opportunity to taste the pickles, which were served during lunch in the cafeteria.

“The pickles taste so good you just want to keep eating and eating them,” shared one third-grader.

Another third-grader added, “Hey look, today they gave us two pickles instead of one. Yay!”

The Sunset Valley garden was funded through a Fuel Up to Play 60 grant and by the school’s PTA. Through the garden, students learn about where foods come from and have the opportunity to plant and care for the produce and sample the items grown.

ag SVE cucumbers Staff ag SVE cucumbers Student ag SVE cucumbers cafeteria

Amy Krinke of LS R-7 named finalist for Missouri Teacher of the Year

LSWHS music teacher named R-7 Teacher of the Year in April

Amy Krinke, Lee’s Summit West High School director of choirs and R-7 School District 2015-16 Teacher ag Amy Krinke Portraitof the Year, was named one six finalists for Missouri Teacher of the Year on Aug. 25. She will participate in an interview with a state selection committee on Sept. 14 with the state’s Teacher of the Year being named later that month.

Mrs. Krinke was named R-7 Teacher of the Year during a surprise announcement April 2 at a community-wide reception, sponsored by the school district and the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce. She was selected as the district’s Teacher of the Year by a committee composed of R-7 staff and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the community.

At the school district’s All-District Convocation, held Aug. 13, Mrs. Krinke was a featured speaker, sharing an inspirational message with employees from throughout Lee’s Summit R-7.

Through the Missouri Teacher of the Year program, teachers representing their school district submit a nomination packet for Missouri Teacher of the Year.  

Mrs. Krinke has been an educator for 16 years, including seven years with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. Mrs. Krinke has refined the music literacy program for each choir class at Lee’s Summit West High School to develop fundamental music literacy skills through daily sight-singing and audiation. Her choirs have performed nationally including in Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C.

“I believe deeply in the value of music as a tool for self-expression and personal growth.  I want my students to feel and understand the inspirational sources of the music as well as give them the technical foundations to bring music to life for themselves and for others. I strive to show students how to draw parallels between music, their life experiences and their prior learning,” said Mrs. Krinke.  

“Music provides opportunities for expression in real time with real human interaction. This connects the students in a unique way, giving them powerful tools for understanding human experiences and learning to communicate with each other and the changing world around them.”

In nomination forms, Mrs. Krinke was praised for her caring attitude towards her students and for assisting them to enhance their musical knowledge.

“Mrs. Krinke’s love for her students is obvious to all around her. She expresses this love through her caring, positivity, enthusiasm and through a great deal of hard work. She holds her students to high standards, but ensures that they hold her to high standards as well, and she continuously works to develop her skills as a teacher and mentor.”

At Lee’s Summit West High School, Mrs. Krinke serves as lead teacher and chair for the Music Department. She has previously served on the district’s curriculum writing team. She makes it a priority to provide opportunities for her choral students to support community organizations, whether organizing a food drive or performing at a retirement community.

In the community, Mrs. Krinke is a member of Kantorei of Kansas City, a professional choral ensemble.  She has also been involved in several church choirs, as a director or member. Mrs. Krinke is a member of the National Association for Music Education, American Choral Directors Association and Missouri Choral Directors Association. She currently serves as a hospitality chairperson for Missouri Choral Directors Association, as well as a mentor for the association’s new teacher program.

She received the Missouri Choral Directors Association’s Kansas City Metro Director of the Year award in 2010. She was selected Teacher of the Month at Lee’s Summit West High School in 2009 and District Teacher of the Month for the Blue Springs School District in 2008.

Before coming to Lee’s Summit R-7, Mrs. Krinke taught vocal music in the Blue Springs School District and Independence School District. She previously taught for Music Arts Institute and St. Charles Borromeo School.  Away from school, Mrs. Krinke also teaches private voice lessons. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Wichita State University, graduating magna cum laude.  Mrs. Krinke is the 12th Lee’s Summit teacher to be selected as a finalist for Missouri Teacher of the Year.

Student gains confidence and is ready to be successful in school

The Story Project features personal stories about our students and their accomplishments in school. If StoryProjectLOGOfinalyou would like to submit a story about your child, visit

Underwood Elementary teacher helps pave the way for kindergarten student’s success
Starting kindergarten is scary for kids. Only 5 to 6 years into life and you are thrown into a big school with kids you probably don’t know and all of the sudden you can’t play all day! Looking at it from the eyes of a child you can see how important kindergarten teachers really are to helping children get started on a successful school career.

In the 2014-15 school year, one specific teacher redefined the words “success in school” for our family. Mrs. Sari Williams at Underwood Elementary simply epitomizes the essence of what it means to love children and help them be successful. Mrs. Williams was new to the school and in her first year of teaching in Lee’s Summit but you would never have known that. She was the absolute rock that our childSarah West UWE Story Project-Aug2015 needed to ease some of those kindergarten fears and put her on the road to success. Mrs. Williams exceeded every expectation we had of a teacher. As a result, we have a first-grader who is not only prepared for success but is confident she can be successful. This is all thanks to one special kindergarten teacher who loved “her kids” enough to pave the way!

Submitted by Jason and Jill West


Site work underway at new Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus thanks to no-tax-increase bond issue

$40 million issue also funding improvements at each R-7 school

Site work at location of the new Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus is underway in preparation for school’s opening in August 2017. The 15-acre site is located near Ward Road and Tudor Road in Lee’s Summit. The new Summit Tech / MIC and facility improvements throughout the school district are funded by a voter-approved Lee’s Summit R-7 April 2015 bond issue.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Summit Tech / MIC is scheduled for March 2016. Currently, the nationally recognized school is located in leased space, near the location of the new school site.

Thanks to a partnership with the University of Central Missouri (UCM), the school district and university will construct and operate a cost-saving shared facility. Under the plan, R-7 is paying approximately 40 percent of the new school with UCM paying the remaining 60 percent. Based on an agreement between the two organizations, Lee’s Summit R-7 will be the sole owner of the facility which will house Summit Tech / Missouri Innovation Campus as well as UCM programs currently located in the UCM Summit Center Campus. UCM is paying its portion through a rental agreement.

The shared facility will reduce operating expenses for the R-7 School District, allowing the district to move Summit Tech / MIC from leased space into a building owned by the school district. It is anticipated that due to increased rental costs resulting from the expiration of a long-running tax abatement, Lee’s Summit R-7 will save approximately $9 million over the next 20 years by construction of the new facility.

In addition, each R-7 school is receiving facility improvements thanks to the approximately $40 million bond issue. Work on the school improvements began in early summer 2015 with all school improvement projects being complete by either fall 2015 or fall 2016. For more information about the bond issue, which was approved by nearly 80 percent of voters, visit the Lee’s Summit R-7 web page.

Site work for the new SummagSTA-MICsite B 8-25-15 (2)it Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus was underway by summer 2015.

agSTA-MICsite A 8-25-15 (2)








Race for the Future 5K Run/Walk to be Oct. 10 at LSWHS

The Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation will host its Race for the Future Logo 2015popular Race for the Future 5K Run/Walk, scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Oct. 10 at Lee’s Summit West High School, 2600 S.W. Ward Road. The event is recognized throughout the metro-area as one of the Midwest’s premier run/walk events with more than 900 people participating in 2014.

The 19th annual Race for the Future is a fund-raiser for the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation Inc. and the Carrie Foresee Memorial Scholarship Fund. The 5K race includes hundreds of dollars in prizes. Packet pick-up and late registration will be held from noon to 6:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 9 at the R-7 School District’s Stansberry Leadership Center, 301 NE Tudor Road (on the northeast corner of the Lee’s Summit North High School campus). Free T-shirts will go to the first 850 5K entrants.

The Oct. 10 race morning schedule begins with late registration and packet pick-up from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. at the Lee’s Summit West High School activity complex concession stand. The 5K begins at 8 a.m. with the Kids Dash immediately following at approximately 8:45 a.m.  

Race fee is $22 for entries postmarked by Sept. 10, $25 by Sept. 24, $30 by Oct. 9 and $35 Race Day. The Kids Dash is for children up to sixth grade, and the fee is $5. Children will run short distances on the track. Participants will be entertained by B.J. Productions live DJ throughout the race.

Supporters who cannot attend the Race have the opportunity to become Race for the Future “dream partners.” For a $25 donation to Race for the Future, “dream partner” supporters can receive their own commemorative race t-shirt, but can then “sleep in” on Oct. 10.

Additional Race for the Future information is available at

Since the event began 19 years ago, Race for the Future has raised more than $340,470 for the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation and the Carrie Foresee Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation is a non-profit, 501c3 organization established in 1993 to raise and manage resources in order to expand and initiate educational opportunities for students at all levels. The Foundation is a way for citizens to invest in today’s youth, tomorrow’s leaders, and the future of Lee’s Summit by making tax-deductible donations.

The Carrie Foresee Scholarship Fund was established in memory of Carrie Foresee, a former Lee’s Summit High School student. Carrie died Sept. 3, 1996, as the result of injuries suffered in a car accident. Funds from Race for the Future help support scholarship opportunities for graduating seniors.

For more information about volunteering, sponsoring, running or walking, call (816) 986-1015.

R-7 School District ACT college-entrance exams are well above state and national averages

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District students taking the ACT college-entrance test scored well above stateACT scores 2015 and national averages, according to results recently released from the 2014-15 school year.

R-7 students averaged a 23.3 on the composite score, compared to 21.7 for the Missouri average and 21 for the national average.

“We were pleased with our students’ scores which were well above the state average in all areas tested and at each of our three high schools,” said Dr. David McGehee, R-7 superintendent. “In addition, we had an excellent participation rate at each school with a high percentage of 2015 graduates taking the ACT test.”

A total of 986 Lee’s Summit R-7 students took the ACT test during the previous school year. This is 76 percent of the 2015 graduating class of all three R-7 high schools combined. Lee’s Summit High School, Lee’s Summit North High School and Lee’s Summit West High School graduated a total of 1,295 students in May 2015.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District students also scored above the state and national averages in all four specific subjects tested – English, mathematics, reading and science.

The ACT is America’s most widely accepted college entrance exam. It assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The multiple-choice tests cover four skill areas: English, mathematics, reading and science. The writing test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay.

Trailridge Elementary and Trailridge Elementary PTA Recognized Nationally as School of Excellence

National PTA® has recognized Trailridge Elementary and Trailridge Elementary PTA as a National PTA ag TRE PTA School of Exc imageSchool of Excellence for their achievement in building effective family-school partnerships. Research shows that when families and schools work together, student achievement increases, schools improve and communities grow stronger. Being recognized as a National PTA School of Excellence demonstrates Trailridge Elementary and Trailridge Elementary PTA’s leadership and commitment to partnering to support student success and continuous school improvement, said a spokesperson for National PTA.  

“The partnership between Trailridge Elementary and Trailridge Elementary PTA is a true example of what can be accomplished when schools and families work together,” said Otha Thornton, president of National PTA. “Trailridge Elementary and Trailridge Elementary PTA have put strong practices into place that involve families in the life of the school, and we are pleased to recognize them as a National PTA School of Excellence.”

National PTA launched its School of Excellence program to help strengthen family-school partnerships across the country and make measurable progress in the areas of education, health and safety, and arts and cultural exploration. At a National PTA School of Excellence, families feel welcomed and empowered to support student success, and PTA is a key partner for continuous school improvement.

To be recognized as a National PTA School of Excellence, PTAs evaluate their current family engagement strategies and submit a goal for school improvement that families, teachers and administrators have set together. They improve upon their family engagement strategies throughout the year, while focusing on their goal. The National PTA School of Excellence designation is awarded with demonstrated improvement in the family-school partnership and significant progress toward their goal.

“Family has always been No. 1 at Trailridge Elementary,” said Dr. Marcia Sutton, Trailridge Elementary principal. “One of the many amazing strengths of our PTA is the desire to partner with families and staff to promote excellence, not to complain and tear down. For our PTA, it is even more than families plus schools, we are family.”

To celebrate their achievements, National PTA presented Trailridge Elementary and Trailridge Elementary PTA with a National PTA School of Excellence banner. For more information about the National PTA School of Excellence program, visit

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

Lee’s Summit R-7 high schools announce 2015-16 theatre schedules

All three Lee’s Summit R-7 high schools are planning for anTheatre Drama Masks LS R-7 exciting theatre season with productions beginning in September and running through next spring. Theatre schedules follow, including contact information and websites for each school.

Lee’s Summit High School will kick off its theatre season at sea with Boubill & Schonberg’s “The Pirate Queen,” running Nov. 13, 14, 20, 21 and 22. From the collaborators that brought you “Les Miserables,” “Miss Saigon” and “Riverdance” comes a tale based on the 16th century Irish chieftain and pirate  Grainne O’Malley, one of the last Irish clan leaders to resist Queen Elizabeth and the English conquest of Gaelic Ireland. With battle at sea, beautiful music and a gripping story, you don’t want to miss this musical.

LSHS will continue the season with a modern comedy to be announced this fall.  Don’t miss what will be a funny show, scheduled for Feb. 19, 20, 26, 27 and 28.

Next in the line-up is the student-directed one-acts which take place April 8-9. These shows are selected by upperclass students who then direct the underclassmen in fun and exciting short shows.

To close out the Lee’s Summit High School season on April 22, 23 and 24, the Repertory Theatre production will be staging a play that they will be selecting in their class.

Tickets for all LSHS shows are available at on the box office web page or you may contact (816) 986-2059 or for more information or group reservations.

Lee’s Summit North High School leads off with its children’s musical “Aladdin Jr.,” including favorite characters from the hit Disney film – Aladdin, Jasmine, Iago, Jafar, the Genie and more.  A musical adventure filled with magic, mayhem and flying carpet rides, this show is part romance, part action adventure and all fun for everyone. (Rated – G)  

Performances are at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 17 and 2 p.m. Oct. 18.

North’s season continues with another classic musical, “Chicago.”  With music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse, this song and dance spectacular is set in Prohibition-era Chicago.  The musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal” and ”all that jazz.” (Rated PG-13).  The show runs at 7 p.m. Nov 13, 14, 20 and 21 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 15.

LSNHS will conclude its season with a dramatization based on George Orwell’s novel, “Animal Farm,” produced by the Repertory Theatre Group.  After revolting against the reign of their negligent human master, the animals of Mr. Jones’ farm create their own ideal society in which all animals are equal and rules are set by democratic vote. It’s all working pretty well, until the allure of power leads the animals to a chilling fate. “Animal Farm” illustrates how new tyranny replaces old and power corrupts even the noblest of causes. (Rated – PG)  This play will be offered at 7 p.m. April 8 and 9 and at 2 pm April 10.

For tickets and information about any of the three LSNHS shows, visit or call (816) 986-3031.

Lee’s Summit West High School will open its 2015-16 season with the hilarious farce comedy, “The 39 Steps.”  The show is based on the Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name but told in a new and zany way. Watch as six actors take on over 100 characters on stage. This show will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 5 and 2 p.m. Sept. 6.

LSWHS continues the year with the high-flying musical, “Pippin,” which tells the story of Prince Pippin who wants more than anything to find out who he truly is. This magical musical, recently on Broadway and at Starlight Theatre, includes mystery, acrobatic feats and a finale you won’t want to miss. “Pippin” runs at 7 p.m. Nov. 7, 12 and 14 at 2 p.m. Nov. 8 and 15.

West’s main-stage season will conclude with two plays in February.  The first is the hilarious comedy, “Noises Off.”  What happens when a group of actors decide they no longer care about the play and can’t stand each other?  Take a true look of what happens on and off stage in this hilarious, madcap comedy.  “Noises Off” runs at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 and 6 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 7.  The second production is the thought-provoking “A Brave New World.”  This production, based on the novel, will be produced in conjunction with the Lee’s Summit West English Language Arts Department.  What will our world be like in the future?  Is it everything we hoped it would be or are we in for a world that could only exist in our darkest nightmares?  “A Brave New World” runs at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 and 20 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 21.

In addition, LSWHS will present a children’s show on Oct. 10 and 11, “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 11 – 13, a Revue on Feb. 12 and 13, a series of student-directed one-act plays at 7 p.m. April 1 and 2 and a repertory theatre murder mystery dinner theatre on April 22 and 23.  Information about all LSWHS productions is available at Tickets for all plays will be $6 in advance and $7 at the door. Musical tickets will be $8 in advance and $9 at the door.

All three high schools will also present yet-to-be-announced productions at the school district’s One-Act Play Festival to be performed on the LSHS Stage, scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5.

Lee’s Summit Rotary Club program focuses on Great Beginnings Early Education Center

Kristen Merrell, assistant principal at Great Beginnings Early Education Center, spoke to the Lee’s Summit Rotary Club Aug. 6. Mrs. Merrell shared information about the center, which serves the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District.

Great Beginnings includes a preschool program for approximately 400 students who qualify based on a spectrum of at-risk elements, developmental delays and special needs. The center also serves children by offering targeted programs in areas such as speech, physical and occupational therapy.

Parents As Teachers, a program for families with children from birth through age 5, also operates from Great Beginnings. Through Parents As Teachers, trained parent educators visit families with young children in their homes, interact with the children, share information about developmental milestones and assist families with questions and concerns. Over the course of the year, more than 1,700 families will be served by the Parents As Teachers program.

Mrs. Merrell shared that Great Beginnings staff members focus on meeting the ever-growing needs of our community’s youngest population.

“As student needs continue to emerge, our work requires constant redefinition in order to develop a long-range vision and plan for early education,” she said. “We know that expansion is very much a possibility as there is definitely a call for early intervention in order to create successful learners — academically, socially, and emotionally.”

In addition, Mrs. Merrell shared information about the early childhood program’s history. The preschool program was piloted in 1981 and was initially located near what is now the district’s Miller Park Center. The Parents As Teachers program began in 1985, also initially operating out of Miller Park Center (which served as the district’s administrative office at the time).

In 2005, through community donations and a no-tax-increase bond issue, a new Great Beginnings Early Education Center was constructed on a site located within Legacy Park in eastern Lee’s Summit. Enrollment at the center’s preschool program has continued to grow. The preschool program has now expanded into eight satellite classrooms located in three elementary schools.

Great Beginnings will recognize its 10th anniversary with a celebration planned from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the facility, 905 NE Bluestem. The community is invited to this special event.

agGBEECatRotaryPhotoKristen Merrell is pictured with Kirby Asplund of the Rotary Club.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District launches Let’s Talk! to enhance communications with community

Through new online tool, you are invited to submit questions, comments, suggestions, concerns and compliments 24/7

The Lee’s Summit R-7 is making it even easier to reach school district leadership with the launch of a Lets-Talk R-7 Logo-Button (1)new, cloud-based communications tool, known as Let’s Talk! Community members, staff and students are invited to contact the district with questions, comments, suggestions, concerns or compliments via the website at or via the Let’s Talk! option on the district’s homepage at  

“We realize family and community involvement is a major strength within our school district,” said Dr. David McGehee, R-7 superintendent. “Through Let’s Talk!, we have the ability to bring everyone into conversations about our schools and the education we provide to students.”

With Let’s Talk!, individuals may visit the district’s website 24/7 to communicate with various departments on a wide variety of topics. In return, district officials pledge to respond within a reasonable time frame, normally within just a couple of days at the most. Submissions may be anonymous although to receive a personal response, you must include contact information.

The Let’s Talk! web page features trending topics such as Connect2Learn Chromebooks and the April 2015 no-tax-increase bond issue. Other examples of various topics/areas include the Board of Education, superintendent’s office, instruction and safety as well as specific departments such as Nutrition Services, Transportation and Instruction.

The goal of Let’s Talk! is to streamline communication, identify opportunities for engagement, spot potential hot topics and build stronger community relationships. It helps facilitate an open dialogue between district leaders and citizens while offering unique features that help the school district track the quality of its service for continual improvement.

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