Three Lee’s Summit R-7 teachers named Lee’s Summit VFW Teachers of the Year

// Posted By Janie Rohlfing

Annie Norris, Michael Haase and Tavish Whiting, all Lee’s Summit R-7 teachers, were recently honored through the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Smart/Maher National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.

Mrs. Norris, the VFW Elementary Teacher of the Year, is a second-grade teacher at Westview Elementary. Michael Haase, the Middle School Teacher of the Year, is a social studies teacher at Summit Lakes Middle School. Tavish Whiting, the High School Teacher of the Year, teaches American government at Lee’s Summit North High School. All three were selected by the VFW Post 5789 of Lee’s Summit. As the local winners, the three teachers will compete for the Missouri VFW Fifth District Award.

The VFW recognition program honors top teachers throughout the nation. Mrs. Norris was nominated by a community member. Mr. Haase was nominated for the honor by Damon Carr, lead social studies teacher at Summit Lakes. Mr. Whiting was nominated by Tim Collins, LSNHS assistant principal.

Mrs. Norris has worked at Westview Elementary since 2009. Each year, she works with her students on a project to recognize local law enforcement officers and military personnel (both active and veterans) by writing meaningful thank-you letters. Her class also completes a yearly community service project to benefit Heifer International and she serves as her school’s facilitator for Partners In Education. “Annie’s commitment to citizenship and patriotism goes beyond just lessons in class,” stated the nomination form. “She is a dedicated teacher who motivates her students to become involved young citizens.”

“My goal is that every child leaves my room understanding the importance of kindness,” she said. “As a class we discuss and recognize those who serve our communities and our country every day.”

Mr. Haase has served as a social studies teacher at Summit Lakes Middle School since 2004. He also has served on the School Improvement Team and Site-Based Leadership Team and was a co-sponsor of the SLMS Student Council. Before joining the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Mr. Haase served in the United States Army for three years and taught social studies in the Center School District.

“He has a strong sense of purpose and is very proud to be a veteran of the U.S. Army,” stated the nomination form for Mr. Haase. “Michael takes an active role in our school’s yearly Veterans Day activity that honors fallen soldiers in the War on Terror. He is very passionate about U.S. government and teaching students the importance of being responsible citizens. Michael is truly dedicated to the positive and responsible education of the students in his classes.”

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.”

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