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.