Lee’s Summit CARES provides parenting classes and other resources for families

Raising children from birth to adulthood is a remarkable undertaking, especially considering that newborns do not arrive with operating instructions. Lee’s Summit CARES, partnering with ReDiscover and the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, have partnered for 18 years to provide parents with courses and other resources to enhance the lives of area families.

Since this partnership began in 1999, more than 4,500 parents have participated in Parenting with Love and Logic classes and workshops with approximately 1,800 adults attending the organization’s Parent University. Love and Logic classes include a course tailored for parents of children from birth through age 6, a class designed for parents of children of all ages and sessions targeted for parents of tweens and teens. Mini workshops on topics such as the teenage brain, raising responsible children, conflict resolution and stress management are also available. Area businesses and schools are invited to host the mini workshops.

In addition to the parenting courses, Lee’s Summit CARES provides courses and workshops for school staff members in areas such as Love and Logic techniques, bullying prevention and creating a positive school climate. A new workshop focuses on addressing bullying behavior through a course called Empowering Upstander Behavior in a Bystander World.

Through surveys, parents attending the Love and Logic courses have shared that participation in the classes has made parenting less stressful, reduced the arguing and whining in the home, improved relationships with children and teens, helped parents “train” their children to listen to them and resulted in more responsible children.

Lee’s Summit CARES has been updating its website, www.lscares.org, to make it more convenient for parents to access the many resources available. The Greater Lee’s Summit Healthcare Foundation recently awarded Lee’s Summit CARES a grant to help better publicize these opportunities, including the creation of videotaped sessions.

Brad Rackers of LS R-7 named Missouri Regional Teacher of Year

Brad Rackers, theatre director at Lee’s Summit West High School, was named one of six Missouri Regional Teachers of the Year for the Kansas City region. He was named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Teacher of the Year during an April community reception.  

Mr. Rackers has been an educator for 13 years, including seven years with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. He has presented at local, regional and national theatre arts conferences and is currently president of the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri.

“The best learning happens when students don’t realize they’re learning,” Mr. Rackers said. “Teaching is all about going on an educational journey with students and letting them make mistakes, supporting them when they fail, reflecting on the successes and challenges throughout the process and celebrating the final product. All students have their own unique set of experiences they bring with them to the classroom each day. I negotiate those circumstances to help them succeed at the highest level.”

In nomination forms, Mr. Rackers was praised for his ability to engage all students. “Mr. Rackers uses theatre to draw in the students on the fringe, students who could otherwise easily slip through cracks of high school life and instead connect them with meaningful work as part of a tight-knit family,” said a nominator.

At Lee’s Summit West High School, Mr. Rackers serves on the Diversity Team and has previously served on the district’s curriculum writing team. He makes it a priority to provide opportunities for his theatre students to support community organizations through community service activities such as an annual canned food drive supporting Lee’s Summit Social Services and a book drive for Reach Out and Read.

He received the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri Board of Governor’s New Teacher of the Year award, Grandview High School Teacher of the Year award and was selected as the technical director for the Missouri State Thespians All-State performance of “Jekyll and Hyde.” Before coming to Lee’s Summit R-7, Mr. Rackers taught theatre in the Grandview School District. In the theatre community, Mr. Rackers has been heavily involved in the Kansas City Cappies organization, directing a number of shows and musicals as well as serving as the organization’s Steering Committee chairperson. He has also worked with the Summit Theater Group and served as a technical director for Missouri State Thespians All-State Show and International Thespian Conference Selection.

Mr. Rackers earned a bachelor’s degree in speech and theatre education from Missouri State University and a master’s in education from Baker University, graduating summa cum laude.  

The Missouri Regional Teacher of the Year award is part of the Missouri Teacher of the Year program, sponsored by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The program recognizes the efforts of effective teachers in providing a quality education to students.

Mr. Rackers is eligible to compete for Missouri Teacher of the Year for 2017. The selection committee, comprised of teachers, business leaders and education organization leaders, will choose the Missouri Teacher of the Year following interviews with each finalist this fall. The winner and the finalists will be honored at a banquet in October in Jefferson City. The new Missouri Teacher of the Year will serve as the state’s nominee for the National Teacher of the Year competition.

The Missouri Teacher of the Year program is conducted with financial support by the Boeing Company and the Monsanto Fund.

Molly Wooster earns top score on ACT college admissions exam

Less than one-tenth of 1 percent earn a ‘perfect 36’

Molly Wooster, a 2017-18 junior at Lee’s Summit West High School, earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. On average, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2016, only 2,235 out of nearly 2.1 million graduates who took the ACT earned a composite score of 36.

Molly is the daughter of Jeff and Jennifer Wooster. She was selected to attend the Missouri Scholars Academy, serves as captain of the Junior Varsity Science Bowl, is vice president of the LSWHS Kindness Council, volunteers weekly at Abundant Life Church and participates in LSWHS robotics, Math Club/Missouri Math League, Spanish Honor Society and Youth Advisory Council. In addition, she is an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate.

Just a handful of Lee’s Summit R-7 students have achieved a 36 on the ACT over the past several decades.

The ACT consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading and science, each scored on a scale of 1 to 36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores. Some students also take the optional ACT writing test, but the score for that test is reported separately and is not included within the ACT composite score.

In a letter to Molly, Marten Roorda, ACT chief executive officer, stated, “Your achievement on the ACT is significant and rare. While test scores are just one of multiple criteria that most colleges consider when making admission decisions, your exceptional ACT composite score should prove helpful as you pursue your education and career goals.”

ACT test scores are accepted by all major U.S. colleges. Exceptional scores of 36 provide colleges with evidence of student readiness for the academic rigors that lie ahead.

R-7 high school sophomores selected to attend Missouri Scholars Academy

Several Lee’s Summit R-7 School District sophomores were selected to attend the Missouri Scholars Academy, a three-week summer academic program for approximately 330 of Missouri’s gifted students.

Students selected to attend this Academy are Emma Cooney, Alexandria Mesz and Sierra Nyquist, Lee’s Summit High School; Megan Carlson and Kameron Robinson, Lee’s Summit North High School; and Hannah Neo, Allison Salamone and Molly Wooster, Lee’s Summit West High School.

Close to 330 sophomores statewide are selected from among approximately 65,000 students. Acceptance is based on a student essay, teacher recommendations, PSAT scores and IQ tests.

The academy is a residential program held on the University of Missouri-Columbia and funded by the State of Missouri.

The Academy features carefully selected faculty and staff, a specially designed curriculum that focuses on the liberal arts and a variety of stimulating extracurricular activities. Academy students are able to become part of a unique learning community.  

LS R-7 Business Roundtable tours new Missouri Innovation Campus

New facility on schedule to open later this summer to serve LS R-7 and UCM students

Approximately 25 members of the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Business Roundtable toured the district’s new Missouri Innovation Campus on June 28. The state-of-the-art school is on schedule to open later this summer and remains within budget.

The facility is funded through a unique partnership between Lee’s Summit R-7 and the University of Central Missouri. The school district’s portion of the facility is funded by an April 2015 no-tax-increase bond issue, approved by close to 80 percent of voters. The cost-saving facility will be owned by the R-7 School District with Lee’s Summit R-7 paying approximately 40 percent of the school’s cost. UCM is paying the remainder of the facility’s cost through a lease agreement.

Located near Tudor and Ward Roads, the Missouri Innovation Campus building will house the school district’s Summit Technology Academy, currently located in leased space; UCM-Lee’s Summit, also moving from leased space to the facility; and the Missouri Innovation Campus program. The two-story facility totals 135,000 square feet and is designed so that Lee’s Summit R-7 and UCM will share interior learning and conference spaces as well as parking, saving money for both organizations.

The Missouri Innovation Campus program is a progressive collaboration between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and the University of Central Missouri. Established in 2012, the nationally recognized program accelerates the time it takes students to complete a four-year degree, significantly reduces college debt and provides job-ready skills that are highly sought after by business.  

Summit Technology Academy, established in 1999 by the R-7 School District, is a unique secondary school that prepares students for careers in engineering, computer science, health care and creative science. UCM-Lee’s Summit is the university’s main off-campus learning facility, offering graduate- and undergraduate-level completion programs to metro-area students.


Lee’s Summit R-7 Business Roundtable members tour the new Missouri Innovation Campus.

Tavish Whiting named Missouri VFW Teacher of the Year

Tavish Whiting, a social studies teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School, received the Missouri Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) High School Teacher of the Year Award during a June 9 ceremony, held in Springfield. Earlier this year, Mr. Whiting was honored as High School Teacher of the Year by both the VFW Post 5789 of Lee’s Summit and the VFW District 5.

Mr. Whiting has worked for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for 22 years. At LSNHS, he teaches American government, comparative government, contemporary issues and economics. He serves as the coordinator for R-7 Votes, a mock election conducted in all R-7 schools during presidential elections. In addition, Mr. Whiting was  member of the R-7 curriculum writing team for American government, contemporary issues, economics and comparative government; served on the writing team for the state-mandated constitution exams; and has been actively involved in The Missouri Bar Education Program.

Mr. Whiting was praised for his leadership, teaching style, dedication and passion for his subject. “He is willing to continuously work for his students and to set an example for the staff he works alongside,” stated the nomination form. “He is an exceptional role model.”

Tavish Whiting receives the VFW state award.

LS R-7 Board of Education offers videotaping of regular monthly meetings

Videotaped meetings available on district’s YouTube and City of LS access channels

Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education regular monthly meetings are broadcast online and via the City of Lee’s Summit’s governmental access channel. The meetings are available on the district’s YouTube Channel and on the district’s BoardDocs webpage.

The Board of Education meetings have been broadcast online since December 2016. Beginning in summer 2017, they are also available on the City of Lee’s Summit governmental access channels — AT&T U-verse 99, Spectrum (previously Time Warner) 2, Comcast 7 and Google TV 143. The Board meetings are being broadcast on the LSTV, Lee’s Summit governmental access channel, on the following schedule: noon Tuesdays, 7 p.m. Saturdays and 9 p.m. Sundays.

For a schedule of Board of Education meetings, visit our Board webpage.

PLMS students visit Washington, D.C.

Pleasant Lea Middle School students, accompanied by three social studies teachers, visited Washington, D.C., June 5-8. The bi-annual trip is funded by the students’ families and organized by the Social Studies Department.

The group, including 21 students, walked throughout the Washington area, visiting historic sites, memorials and museums. For the first time, the Washington group visited Monticello, the home and farmstead of President Thomas Jefferson.

In addition four students from PLMS — Elaina Twenter, Josh Evans, Christian Hess, and Riley Neff — presented a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

PLMS students tour historic sites in Washington, D.C.

LS R-7 Board of Education approves service agreement for significant savings on school bus fuel

Agreement reduces surcharge for CNG fuel from $1.12 to 40 cent per gallon, saving $1.5 million over next 10 years

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education approved a fuel service agreement with the district’s compressed natural gas (CNG) provider that will save approximately $1.5 million over the next 10 years. The agreement with Clean Energy reduces the district’s existing fuel charge from approximately $1.12 per gallon to 40 cents per gallon.

Through the agreement, Lee’s Summit R-7 is purchasing the infrastructure used for the slow fill of its school bus fleet to significantly reduce the cost per gallon. Since transitioning to CNG-powered school buses, Lee’s Summit R-7 has been recognized as a model school district in terms of CNG power and environmentally friendly practices. The district has continued to work closely with Clean Energy to ensure a successful program.

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District began using CNG-powered school buses in 2013. At the time, the district’s move to CNG was the nation’s largest school bus transition to compressed natural gas. In addition to reducing the district’s carbon footprint, CNG-powered buses provide a quieter and cleaner ride for students and save money for taxpayers.

  The R-7 School District transports approximately 12,500 students each school day, traveling more than 2 million miles annually within the 117-square-mile school district.

Through the CNG initiative, the district operates a public compressed natural gas filling station, located at 500 SE Transport Drive in Lee’s Summit. In addition to the CNG school buses, the district has transitioned to CNG-powered facility maintenance trucks.

Buses parked at the slow fill stations.

Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members honored by Greater KC Association of School Librarians

Two Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members were honored by the Greater Kansas City Association of School Librarians (GKCASL) during the organization’s spring banquet, held during May. Recognized staff members were Jaci Hurley, library media specialist at Longview Farm Elementary and Trailridge Elementary, and Laura Maxwell, Lee’s Summit R-7 director of library media services and Partners In Education.

Mrs. Hurley was named the GKCASL Librarian of the Year. The award recognizes a librarian’s distinguished service and leadership in the school library. Winners have made a significant impact on their students and co-workers and have demonstrated a commitment to school libraries.

Mrs. Maxwell received the 2017 GKCASL Friend of the Library Award. This award recognizes individuals who support the library media services in an exemplary manner to the point that without the services there would be a void in services.

Jaci Hurley (left) and Laura Maxwell.

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