Celebrating a new school
There’s nothing quite as rewarding as seeing a plan come together, a partnership flourish and a new school begin to take shape. All this happened in one afternoon earlier this spring at the groundbreaking of our district’s new Summit Technology Academy / Missouri Innovation Campus. Held March 10, this historic event captured regional and national attention, placing Lee’s Summit R-7 in the spotlight once again for these future-focused programs and our unique partnership with higher education.
The new school is replacing classrooms and labs currently located in leased space and will allow us to take these successful programs to the next level. Having our own facility — one specifically designed to meet the needs of these high-tech programs — gives us the tools we need to grow, innovate and better serve students. Additional benefits include significant cost savings for our taxpayers and a meaningful boost to workforce development endeavors in our community and region.
In a little over two years, this facility has gone from “what-if” discussions to the planning stage to reality thanks to our community’s supportive voters and a highly effective partnership involving our school district and the University of Central Missouri. During our initial discussions, we frequently heard that successful partnerships between public K-12 schools and higher education are extremely rare and often difficult to maintain. I’m proud to say we have proved to be the exception to this rule thanks to the visionary leadership at both UCM and Lee’s Summit R-7.
Not only are the programs offered at Summit Tech / MIC changing the way students experience education, the school is serving as a model for superior workforce development, setting the stage for an even more positive economic environment in our community.
The many organizations and individuals involved in this project has been nothing short of remarkable. Both UCM and Metropolitan Community College have worked with Lee’s Summit R-7 to successfully develop the Missouri Innovation Campus, capturing national attention by accelerating the time it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, greatly reducing the costs of higher education and connecting students to business through long-term internships.
Our staff at both Summit Tech and MIC has been exceptional in helping design, develop and implement these recognized programs. School staff members have worked closely with businesses to incorporate their input into hands-on, relevant curriculum. The more than 40 businesses involved in the MIC and the more than 200 businesses working with Summit Tech students have also been critical.
Organizations that helped provide early feedback regarding the plan for this school as well as the successful 2015 no-tax-increase bond issue include our Citizens’ Advisory Committee, Business Roundtable and PTA Council. Without the support of these three organizations as well as thousands of voters, we would not be celebrating the launch of this new school.
Finally, I want to thank the individuals who are a major reason these unique educational programs have prospered. Students at Summit Tech and MIC have been willing to step away from the traditional high-school environment to help us blaze this innovative trail to success. Their dedication to these programs and to their own goals has placed Summit Tech / MIC and our school district on the map once again. I am looking forward to seeing this school open in fall 2017 and to watching what the future will bring for our students.
Dr. David McGehee