Summit Technology Academy former students published in peer-reviewed journal

Two former Summit Technology Academy students who completed Project Lead the Way Biomedical Innovations program were recently published in a peer-reviewed, online, journal. Isaac Henderson, 2017  graduate of Center Place Restoration School, and Jake Renetzky, 2017 graduate from Lee’s Summit High School, completed the synthetic biology research as part of the second semester curriculum at Summit Technology Academy.  

They modified e.coli to produce an enzyme that will produce salicylic acid, a common pain relieving chemical. The article is published in BioTreks at  The experiment was possible because of the knowledge and assistance from Dr. Kevin McCormick and Peggy Hinzman, both instructors at Summit Technology Academy. The funding for the project was provided by Summit Technology Academy.

BioTreks is the first international synthetic biology journal to be authored and reviewed by high school students. The journal is intended to give participating students the valuable experiences of writing and evaluating scientific papers, while offering them opportunities to share their own synthetic biology ideas, techniques and results in a professionally edited, online publication.

Every April, new journal content is presented and reviewed at an online conference that is hosted on Breezio and attended by students, mentors and professional biologists from around the world.  Breezio’s dynamic conference environment gives participants the opportunity to ask each other questions about their work and suggest improvements prior to publication. More importantly, the event offers students and mentors opportunities to build professional connections that will support their research in coming years.  Following the conference, students work with journal staff to finalize their manuscripts, graphics and videos for publication in the annual online issue of the journal. Participation is free and journal content is available to the general public without subscription.

Mike McGurk of LSNHS receives NIAAA Distinguished Service Award

Mike McGurk of Lee’s Summit North High School is among 11 high-school athletic directors receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA). The award is being presented to administrators from throughout the nation on Dec. 12 at the national conference, held in Phoenix this year.

The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to individuals from within the NIAAA membership in recognition of their length of service, special accomplishments and contributions to interscholastic athletics at the local, state and national levels. Nominations are submitted by state athletic directors associations, screened by the NIAAA Awards Committee and selected by the NIAAA Board of Directors.

Mr. McGurk has worked as activities director and assistant principal at LSNHS since 2013. He began his career in secondary education in Virginia, spending 16 years at various schools. In Missouri, Mr. McGurk has worked at LSNHS and previously spent five years as the activities director at Jefferson City High School.

At Lee’s Summit North, Mr. McGurk serves more than 1,900 students in ninth through 12th grades. Over the past four years, he has developed a student activity advisory council to assist in the implementation of a student leadership program, designed a Rising Freshman Preview Night and managed multiple district and sectional tournaments.

During his time in Virginia, Mr. McGurk was the director of student activities at James W. Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax and Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. While at James W. Robinson, Mr. McGurk helped coordinate a $200,000 facility improvement plan and directed the Virginia High School League (VHSL) AAA state gymnastics, lacrosse and wrestling tournaments.

Mr. McGurk, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from George Mason University (Virginia) and a master’s degree in education leadership, was a teacher and basketball coach at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Va., from 1992 to 2002, to begin his education career.

Mr. McGurk served on the Missouri Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) Board of Directors and recently concluded a term as president. In that role, he began a mentoring program and led the first state association strategic plan.

Nationally, Mr. McGurk has been on the NIAAA Awards Committee since 2013 and vice-chair since 2015. He co-developed LTC 726 on student leadership development, has been a workshop presenter at the National Athletic Directors Conference and has had two articles published in Interscholastic Athletic Administration magazine.

About the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA)

The NIAAA is the professional organization for interscholastic athletic administrators. The association is accredited by AdvancED and North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the NIAAA promotes and enhances the profession of athletic administration for high school and middle school athletic administrators. Since 1977, the NIAAA has served those who lead education-based athletic programs in the nation’s schools. With current individual membership of nearly 11,000, the NIAAA consists of members from athletic administrator associations in the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, as well as over 40 international countries. Through its 48-course curriculum, and four levels of certification, the NIAAA is the national leader in providing professional development for athletic administrators, directors, coordinators, and supervisors, as well as those serving in assistant principal/athletic director, or activity/athletic director combined roles that lead school-based sports programs. While providing best-practices and serving as a resource for safe and plentiful participation opportunities for student-athletes, the NIAAA places further focus on member benefits, standards, communication, outreach, and recognition, while emphasizing the exchange of ideas among athletic administrators throughout the nation and the world. NIAAA champions the profession of athletic administration through education opportunities, advocating ethics, developing leaders and fostering community. The NIAAA, located in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a full and equal partner with the NFHS. For more information, visit the NIAAA website at

NOTE: This year’s winners include Steve Bridge, CMAA, former athletic director, Elma (Washington) School District; Andy Chiles, CMAA, athletic director, Lake Nona High School, Orlando, Florida; Brent Cook, CMAA, assistant principal for activities/athletics, Dubuque (Iowa) Senior High School; Lane Green, CMAA, district director of athletics and activities, Blue Valley School District, Overland Park, Kansas; Lawrence Johnson, CAA, retired athletic director, Alamogordo (New Mexico) High School; Everett Kelepolo, CMAA, principal, Springville (Utah) High School; Mike McGurk, CMAA, activities director/assistant principal, Lee’s Summit (Missouri) North High School; D. Scott Morris, CAA, director of student activities, Fluvanna County High School, Palmyra, Virginia; Paul Pendleton, assistant principal, Tennessee High School, Bristol, Tennessee; Trish Witkin, director of athletics, Glastonbury (Connecticut) High School; and Steve Young, director of athletics, New Rochelle (New York) City School District.

LS CARES granted more than $15,000 by Truman Heartland

Two Lee’s Summit CARES initiatives were recently granted a major boost by the Truman Heartland Community Foundation. At its Nov. 17 annual grants luncheon, the Foundation granted more than $261,000 to area nonprofits to help further their community-oriented programming and missions.

Lee’s Summit CARES received a pair of grants, including $5,000 for its Bridges initiative and $10,250 for Bully Prevention programming.

“Truman Heartland Community Foundation achieves community excellence by connecting local philanthropic families and individuals with area non-profits,” said Rachel Segobia,  Lee’s Summit CARES executive director.  “Small organizations like Lee’s Summit CARES would struggle to make ends meet without the targeted, localized funding provided by THCF through its donors.”  

Bridges is an innovative parenting program that combines the long-running Love and Logic courses, academic involvement and community bonding to reduce neighborhood violence. Qualifying families receive year-round parenting education and access to a parent liaison who helps families navigate school and community resources.

Lee’s Summit CARES I Count Bully Prevention for elementary school students provides in-classroom training for youth in kindergarten, fifth and sixth grades. I CARE Bully Prevention for middle- and high-school students includes a school assessment of policies, procedures and school culture with youth-led curriculum and an awareness campaign.

The secondary educational program is being piloted at Summit Lakes Middle School. The additional funding provided by THFC will go toward expanding the innovative new program into Lee’s Summit middle and high schools.

Mrs. Segobia emphasizes the impact this funding will have on the community. “During the 2016-2017 school year, nearly 3500 elementary students received education on how to identify and respond to bullying and cyber bullying,” she said. “This grant funding will allow Lee’s Summit CARES to follow young people as they move into middle school, where we know cases of physical bullying reach their peak.”

For more information about Lee’s Summit CARES, visit

Rachel Segobia, center, accepts two grant checks from Truman Heartland Community Foundation President Phil Hanson and Chairman of the Board Cliff Jones.





ABOUT LEE’S SUMMIT CARES: Lee’s Summit Cares is a non-profit community coalition dedicated to preventing youth substance use and violence, empowering positive parenting and promoting exemplary character.

Shelly Shumate of Transportation Department pays it forward by helping others

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.

“I enjoy working for the school district,” Mrs. Shumate said. “I’ve been on the receiving end of someone helping me and whenever I can, I want to help others.”

Mrs. Shumate is pictured at the Transportation Department and during Halloween.

Rachel McBride featured in LS R7 ‘Equity Minute’ video

Videos highlight staff members for outstanding work in area of equity

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District recently launched a new video series known as “Equity Minute.” The 60-second videos are available on the district’s YouTube channel.   

Rachel McBride, Westview Elementary reading specialist, is highlighted in the latest video, posted during November.

The videos highlight Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members for outstanding work in the area of equity and ensuring that every student is successful.

Three LS R-7 schools selected finalists for Battle of the Brains

Online voting available Nov. 17-24 and is 30 percent of judging

Three Lee’s Summit R-7 schools are among 20 finalists for Burns & McDonnell Battle of the Brains, an academic competition open to students throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Schools selected as finalists are Hawthorn Hill Elementary with Mesozoic Mayhem, Lee’s Summit High School with Perfect Timing and Summit Technology Academy with Science Stadium. More information about each entry is available on the Battle of the Brains website.

All three schools are encouraging individuals supportive of their entries to vote online for their projects at through Nov. 24. The public vote counts for 30 percent of the selection process. Anyone with a valid e-mail address may vote once each day on the site.

A record number 820 school teams entered the challenge this fall.

Through the competition, students have the opportunity to earn $155,000 in grants by designing an exhibit concept for Science City. Over the past few years, Battle of the Brains has grown into one of the nation’s most robust STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) competitions.

The grand prize winner of last year’s competition was Mason Elementary with the school receiving $50,000 and also having their entry become the centerpiece for Union Station’s new outdoor events plaza.

The entries are judged by a Burns & McDonnell/Science City panel of experts in science, engineering and academia. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Nov. 30 at Union Station.

Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter releases ‘Looking, Listening and Learning’ Superintendent’s 100-Day Report

Report includes LSR-7 strengths and input process as well as immediate, short-term and long-term commitments

Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, Lee’s Summit R-7 School District superintendent, presented his 100-Day Report to the Board of Education at a Nov. 16 meeting. The report includes information about the district’s strengths and the superintendent’s input process as well as immediate, short-term and long-term commitments.

“My goal since beginning my tenure as superintendent on July 1 has been to work collaboratively to deepen and further cement the district’s well-deserved reputation of academic and extra-curricular excellence,” Dr. Carpenter said. “Throughout my first 100 days as your superintendent, I have sought to look, listen and learn. This 100-Day Report is based on these many interactions, meetings and events as well as my own analysis of the district’s achievement, student demographic and other data sets.”

The complete Superintendent’s 100-Day Report is available at

Since being named Lee’s Summit R-7 superintendent in January 2017, Dr. Carpenter has met with more than 50 individuals including community leaders and district-level and school-level administrators. In addition, he has attended numerous community events and met with organizations such as the R-7 Citizens’ Advisory Committee, R-7 Business Roundtable, PTA presidents, Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation, Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and Jacomo Chapter of Retired School Personnel. Dr. Carpenter also spoke to several groups including the district’s All-Staff Kick-off Meetings, new teachers’ orientation, Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon, local clergy and the R-7 District Leadership Team.  

Dr. Carpenter said the overall public sentiments of the school district are positive. “The community believes the school district to be a cornerstone that continues to be recognized as one of the most desirable in our country,” he said. “These positive sentiments are also evident in the greater community’s commitment to serving the district.”

In terms of opportunities, Dr. Carpenter said his community discussions indicated that the district must proactively address enrollment growth and increased diversity, meet the increasingly complex needs of our children, build trust and continue opportunities to listen to the community.

District strengths include outstanding educators and support staff, students who come to school prepared to learn, high levels of parent involvement, excellent curricular resources, outstanding community support and engagement, excellent salary/benefits for employees, top-quality operations and facilities and a strong financial position.

Dr. Carpenter shared that his immediate commitments are driven by his unwavering belief that excellence and equity cannot be divided. “To continue to enjoy the tradition of excellence that has become synonymous with our district, we must honor the fact that some subpopulations of students are not participating in our tradition,” he added.

Immediate commitments included in the report focus on increasing the learning and achievement of each child; addressing disparities and inequities to better serve all students; comparing favorably to Kansas City area Big 5 districts; enhancing workforce development and access to college courses for all students; further defining 21st century learning spaces; addressing facilities in terms of both new schools and improvements to existing schools; and strengthening public trust and enhancing communications.

Dr. Carpenter also discussed his ongoing short-term commitments which include emphasizing equity-focused schooling that maximizes key opportunities to tightly couple the work of the district with schools; addressing opportunity gaps among various subgroups; analyzing and addressing suspension rates in terms of gender, family income and ethnic groups; critiquing the district’s current continuous improvement process to ensure we meet the needs of 21st century learners; removing barriers for all students to rigorous courses and programs in the area of workforce development; forging a culture of equity-focused decision-making that puts students at the center, inclusive of analyzing hiring processes and committing to development of a workforce that mirrors our student demographics; developing strategies to ensure that the superintendent provides instructional leadership within the organization; and implementing a district-wide comprehensive mentoring program.

Long-term commitments presented in the 100-Day Report were maintaining the district’s tradition of excellence; working with governmental entities and citizens to address growth; addressing needs related to new schools and existing schools; enhancing workforce development and the value of the Lee’s Summit R-7 high-school diploma; enhancing, supporting and maintaining a robust digital environment for all students; continuing to merge curricular resources through technology; and focusing on equity in all areas including overall performance and subgroups.

“I have always heard that you are either getting better or you are falling behind,” Dr. Carpenter said. “My commitment to Lee’s Summit R-7 is continuous improvement in all areas, and I am looking forward to continuing to work with our district’s staff, families and community leaders to implement this vision for our schools. There isn’t a community more equipped to do this work than ours and for that reason we should all be very excited about the future of Lee’s Summit R-7.”

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District earns state’s top ranking through MSIP 5 accountability system

District-wide scores jump by 5.7 percentage points when compared to three years ago

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District has earned the state’s top rating for academic achievement following the Nov. 15 release of Missouri assessment scores. The district scored 98.2 percent on the state’s rigorous Annual Performance Report (APR) for the 2016-17 school year, an increase of 5.7 percentage points over the past three years.

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education annually issues a state report card for public schools through the Missouri School Improvement Program. This assessment system, established in 1990, is now in its fifth cycle and is often called MSIP 5. Performance standards used through MSIP 5 are designed to recognize the achievement and growth of all Missouri students.

The Annual Performance Report reflects the high level of instructional effectiveness taking place in our schools,” said Dr. Dennis L. Carpenter, superintendent. “This is reflective of the quality of teachers and students we get to work with in our district. As we look to the future, this data also points to our greatest opportunity and that is ensuring that each student in our district participates in the level of academic achievement that has become synonymous with Lee’s Summit R-7.”

Through the 2016-17 MSIP 5, Lee’s Summit R-7 scored 137.5 out of a possible 140 points. This is an increase over the 2015-16 year.

Since the 2013-14 school year, Lee’s Summit R-7’s score on the Annual Performance Report has increased by 5.7 percentage points. Percentages over the last four years are 92.5 in 2013-14, 96.8 in 2014-15, 97.9 in 2015-16, and 98.2 in 2016-17.

The MSIP 5 Annual Performance Report includes five major standards — academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career readiness, attendance rates and graduation rates. Lee’s Summit R-7 students scored well in all five categories.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District recognized at Missouri Project Lead The Way Conference

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District was recognized as a 100-percent student access school district at the Missouri Project Lead The Way annual conference, held Nov. 5-6 in Blue Springs. School districts earning this honor offer Project Lead The Way for elementary, middle and high school students.

Nearly 800 participants attended the annual event including teachers, students, administrators, exhibitors, non-profits officials, industry leaders and dignitaries from state and local government. The goal was to share, collaborate, recognize achievement and increase awareness for Project Lead The Way and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) training throughout Missouri.  

Project Lead The Way is a non-profit organization developed to prepare students for the global economy by providing STEM programs to schools, focusing on project-based curriculum.

Lee’s Summit R-7 School District earns Meritorious Budget Award from national organization

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District was selected to receive the Meritorious Budget Award for excellence in budget presentation by the Association of School Business Officials International. The award recognizes the district’s budget for the 2017-18 school year, and the school district also received the award for the previous school year.

According to the national organization, the Meritorious Budget Award promotes and recognizes excellence in school budget presentation while acknowledging school business officials’ skills in developing, analyzing and presenting a school system budget. After a rigorous review by professional auditors, the award is conferred only on school districts that have met or exceeded the program’s stringent criteria. The award is sponsored by Voya Financial, Inc.  

“School business officials are responsible for ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and that the district budget reflects student priorities and needs,” said John Musso, Association of School Business Officials International executive director. “The program helps applicants create an accessible, accurate budget that builds trust with their community.”

The Lee’s Summit R-7 budget is available on the school district’s website at

About ASBO International
ASBO International, founded in 1910, is a professional organization of 5,000 members that provides programs and services to promote the highest standards of school business management practices, professional growth, and the effective use of education resources.  For more information about the Meritorious Budget Award or Pathway to the MBA, visit

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