Beth Files named R-7 Teacher of the Year
Excellence In Teaching winners honored at April 3 event
Beth Files, vocal music director at Summit Lakes Middle School, was named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District 2014 Teacher of the Year during a surprise announcement at an April 3 community reception. The reception also recognized 12 R-7 teachers who were named Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching Award winners earlier this spring.
Excellence In Teaching winners are Todd C. Arasmith, Bernard Campbell Middle School; Erica Arbuckle, Hawthorn Hill Elementary School; Enjoli Avila, Summit Pointe Elementary School; Jon Courtney, Bernard Campbell Middle School; Beth Files, Summit Lakes Middle School; Andrea N. Foote, Greenwood Elementary School; Jayne Hartwig, Trailridge Elementary School; Tammi S. Krones, Lee’s Summit High School; Scott Kuhlman, Lee’s Summit North High School; Melinda Moylan, Hazel Grove Elementary School; Hollie Temple, Great Beginnings Early Education Center; and Kim Victor, Longview Farm Elementary School.
The Teacher of the Year is selected from R-7 educators who are either current or past winners of the Excellence In Teaching Award. In addition to the Excellence In Teaching winners, other finalists for Teacher of the Year included former Excellence In Teaching winners, also known as Teachers of Distinction, who were nominated for the award again this year. These former winners had the opportunity to interview along with this year’s award recipients for Teacher of the Year and were also recognized April 3. They are Aaron Bailey, Lee’s Summit West High School; Nancy Collings, Bernard Campbell Middle School; Kerrie Creemer, Meadow Lane Elementary School; Dr. Sarah Graff, Lee’s Summit North High School; Rhonda L. Ireland, Lee’s Summit North High School; Paul Morales, Pleasant Lea Middle School; Dr. Paul M. Rutherford, Summit Technology Academy; Deanna Soukup, Bernard Campbell Middle School; Michael Walker, Summit Lakes Middle School; and Paula Zimmerschied, Underwood Elementary School.
All Excellence In Teaching winners were also honored with the Hertzog Leadership Award, established through the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council to honor Dr. Robert (“Bud”) Hertzog, businessman and community leader. In addition, the Teacher of the Year receives a $100 Cathy Paulson Heart to Heart Award. This award is funded by the Loren Paulson family in honor of Cathy Paulson, who passed away in 2010.
The Excellence In Teaching program and reception are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the R-7 School District, and all students, parents, R-7 employees and community members are invited to nominate outstanding teachers. The recognized teachers were selected by a committee composed of R-7 staff and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the community.
As Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Files will go on to participate in the Missouri Teacher of the Year program. She has been an educator for 29 years, including 13 years with the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District. Mrs. Files has established a tiered choir invitational for elementary, middle and high school students, and she has presented at numerous state, regional and national conferences about music for elementary and middle school students. She has also organized over 60 student trips and more than 500 performances.
“Through learning music, students are able to relate different subjects, apply emotions and previous learning to their experience,” said Mrs. Files. “A composition may touch upon historical experiences, writing, poetry, mathematics, foreign language or even physical characteristics but performing and understanding a meaningful musical composition with emotion is one of the most valuable learning experiences for any child.”
In nomination forms, Mrs. Files was praised for her outstanding attitude within the classroom and for helping students to learn to sing as well as to appreciate music.
“Mrs. Files’ positive and friendly attitude allowed me to enjoy myself while singing,” wrote a student. “She helped us learn music skills that helped prepare me for high-school music class.”
At Summit Lakes Middle School, Mrs. Files serves as lead teacher and chair for the Music Department and is a member of the Site-Based Team. She has supported eight student teachers and four R-7 cadet teachers while also mentoring beginning teachers. Within Lee’s Summit R-7, Mrs. Files developed a piano keyboard unit using recycled piano keyboards as well as an acoustical guitar unit for middle-school students.
In the community, she has been involved in church ministries, including leading several teen mission trips for flood and hurricane relief. She volunteers for Hillcrest Charities through her church and donates her time at nursing homes where she has taught music classes for senior citizens, coordinates student performances and performs. She also performs in a professional vocal trio, Three In One.
She received the Harrisonville Optimist Outstanding Educator of the Year Award in 1998, earned a National Association of Teachers of Singing Award, the Harrisonville Rotary Award for Vocal Music and the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching Award. Mrs. Files has served as an officer within several professional organizations, including Missouri Choral Directors Association. In 2009, the SLMS Singers were accepted by the Missouri Music Educators Association to perform at the state conference.
Before coming to Lee’s Summit R-7, Mrs. Files taught vocal music at Harrisonville High School, in the Blue Valley School District and Raymore-Peculiar School District. She has previously taught courses for elementary music teachers at Avila College and has served as choir director at several area churches. Away from school, Mrs. Files also teaches private voice, flute and piano lessons.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in music education and performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a master’s in music choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has done additional post-graduate work in communication disorders from the University of Central Missouri.