Dr. Jeff Meisenheimer named Missouri High School Principal of the Year

Dr. Jeff Meisenheimer, principal at Lee’s Summit North High School, was named the 2018 Missouri High School Principal of the Year by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals. He will receive the award at the organization’s spring conference, scheduled for March 26.

Dr. Meisenheimer was selected for this award based on his impact in the areas of collaborative leadership; curriculum, instruction and assessment; and personalization of the learning environment. He was named Principal of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Missouri Principals Association in April 2017.

Tim Collins, LSNHS assistant principal, nominated Dr. Meisenheimer for the award during the previous school year. “We have three new assistant principals this year and he coaches and supports them unconditionally,” Mr. Collins said. “The staff responds well to his leadership style and he is constantly pushing them to improve as educators.”

Dr. Meisenheimer has served as principal at Lee’s Summit North High School for five years. He previously served as assistant principal at Lee’s Summit High School and Ruskin High School. In 2010, he was named the Assistant Principal of the Year by the Greater Kansas City Missouri Principals Association and by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals. In addition, he was also one of three finalists for the National Assistant Principal of the Year.

A Lee’s Summit resident, Dr. Meisenheimer earned his bachelor’s degree in business education from the University of Missouri-Columbia; his master’s degree in educational administration and his specialist degree in educational administration, both from the University of Missouri-Kansas City; and his executive doctor of education from Saint Louis University.

MOASSP sponsors the High School and Middle Level Principal of the Year Programs. Dr. Meisenheimer will be in the running to represent Missouri in the 2018 National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Principal of the Year program.

Since 2000, a total of four Lee’s Summit R-7 school administrators have received the state High School Principal of the Year Award and two have been selected as Middle Level Principal of the Year.

LS R-7 Board of Education recognized as part of Missouri School Board Recognition Week

Board members volunteer their time to provide leadership for local district

Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education members were honored at the school district’s Jan. 18 monthly meeting. The recognition took place in celebration of Missouri School Board Recognition Week. The annual recognition week is held during the last week of January.

Students from Prairie View Elementary thanked the Board of Education with a presentation and musical selection.

School Board Recognition Week, sponsored by the Missouri School Boards’ Association, recognizes the more than 3,600 school board members across the state. These public servants are elected by local constituents and do not receive compensation for their tireless efforts.

The goal of this event is to build awareness and understanding of the important function an elected Board of Education plays in communities and schools.

R-7 School District Board of Education members are Bob White, president; Julie Doane, vice president; Phyllis Balagna; Jackie Clark; Kim Fritchie; Adam Rutherford; and Dennis Smith.

Students from Prairie View Elementary honor Board of Education members at the Jan. 18 meeting.

BCMS students selected for Be the Change Award

Madison Burke and Jonas Bresette were selected for the Bernard Campbell Middle School Be the Change Award for November. Joel Kilgore and Jordan Scott were selected for the month of December.

To receive this recognition, students demonstrated a positive attitude and exhibited outstanding character. “Be the Change you wish to see in the world” truly characterizes what these students do at BCMS.   

The students also received a token of thanks from the school’s business partner, Paradise Park.

Pictured are (from left) Jonas Bresette, Madison Burke, Jon Ellis of Paradise Park, Joel  Kilgore and Jordan Scott.

Elementary students have opportunity to give Pleasant Lea Middle School eighth-graders a piece of their mind

As part of their study of our nation’s history, Pleasant Lea Middle School eighth-graders created children’s books about the American Revolution with younger students from a nearby elementary school serving as informal book critics.

American history teacher Matt Sisk said the assignment was designed to evaluate the students’ knowledge of the historical events in a more authentic and memorable way.

“The students created children’s books over the causes of the American Revolution, and they chose a cartoon character, like Spongebob or Scooby-Doo, to be the main character in their story.” Mr. Sisk said. “The character experienced the tumultuous time period of the 1760s and 1770s in Colonial America alongside the colonists and shared the frustrations right alongside the colonists as well.”

The eighth-graders spent about one week creating the books, which included text as well as illustrations.

“It was challenging to tell some of the events in a kid-friendly language.” Mr. Sisk added. “Many of the eighth-graders were asking if it was OK to bring up something as violent as the Boston Massacre. This led to some great conversations about how in writing, the audience we are addressing can affect the kind of language we use. The kids came up with some very creative ways to present some tough topics!”

After completing the books, the middle-school students traveled to nearby Pleasant Lea Elementary school where elementary students served not only as an audience for the books but also as evaluators. The elementary students filled out a brief form, providing the eighth-graders with feedback about whether the book made sense to them, flowed well and taught historical facts and real-life lessons.

Students were also challenged to focus on the concept of taking a stand against injustice. “The colonists stood up to Britain in many ways leading up to the Revolution, and I thought it was important that our kids know ways to do this in their own lives as well,” Mr. Sisk said. “We talked about the best ways to take a stand, and kids incorporated this as the last page of their children’s book. They made the connection and engaged the PLE kids in a dialogue about ways they have had to take a stand as elementary students, such as standing up against bullies or peers who pressure them to make bad choices.”

Mike Walker, eighth-grade social studies teacher at Summit Lakes Middle School, also conducted a similar activity with his students, visiting Trailridge Elementary.

Missouri Innovation Campus is one of 10 finalists in national educational design competition

Lee’s Summit R-7 one-of-a-kind school opened in fall 2017 thanks to cost-saving partnership

The Missouri Innovation Campus was recently named one of 10 finalists in the South by Southwest Learn by Design competition, which recognizes projects and design solutions that enhance physical learning environments for students. The contest winner will be selected during a live competition at the South by Southwest Education Conference and Festival, scheduled for March 5-8 in Austin, Texas.

At the conference, Dr. Elaine Metcalf, principal of Summit Technology Academy/Missouri Innovation Campus, and Kevin Gresichar, DLR Group designer, will present the story behind the school’s design and the impact the facility has on learning.

The Missouri Innovation Campus nomination was submitted by the DLR Group, architect for the school. The new school houses the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s Summit Technology Academy and Missouri Innovation Campus programs as well as graduate and undergraduate programs within the University of Central Missouri (UCM) Lee’s Summit facility.

The facility is funded thanks to a 2015 no-tax-increase bond issue as well as a unique partnership with higher education. Through this partnership with UCM, Lee’s Summit R-7 and the university constructed and are operating this cost-saving shared facility. Under the plan, Lee’s Summit R-7 is paying approximately 40 percent of the new school with UCM paying the remaining 60 percent. The R-7 School District is the sole owner of the school with UCM paying its portion through a lease agreement.

Summit Technology Academy is a unique high-school program that prepares students for careers in areas such as engineering, computer science, health care and creative sciences. The Missouri Innovation Campus program is a progressive collaboration between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College and the University of Central Missouri. By engaging business partners and community organizations, the MIC offers an accelerated program that greatly reduces the time it takes students to complete a four-year degree, significantly lowering college debt and providing job-ready skills that are highly sought after by business. The MIC program was highlighted by President Barack Obama during a visit to the University of Central Missouri’s Warrensburg campus in 2013.

The Missouri Innovation Campus features 60 classrooms including shared spaces for the school district and university programs as well as spaces designated for each organization. The facility takes advantage of exterior light with corridors that can double as additional learning areas at some locations. The Missouri Innovation Campus also features medical school-caliber skilled nursing labs and simulation rooms; professional quality digital media technology; high-tech engineering, biomedical and computer science instruction areas; and an international studies area with state-of-the-art distance learning technology. A testing center is located on the second floor and provides everything from GED to computer software certification testing as well as electronic monitoring of individuals taking the exams.

The community celebrated the new school at a Sept. 5 grand opening, and the Missouri Innovation Campus hosts open house events throughout the year for prospective students, their families and local citizens. For more information, visit the Summit Technology Academy webpage at https://sta.lsr7.org/.

Andy Campbell selected to present at national alternative education conference

Andy Campbell, principal at Summit Ridge Academy, was recently selected to present at the National Alternative Education Association conference, scheduled for March 4-7 in Dallas, Texas. Summit Ridge Academy will participate in the conference’s “Gallery Walk of Alternative Schools” to highlight the work being done at Summit Ridge Academy in the area of alternative education and Trauma-Informed Care.

Mr. Campbell also shared a presentation called “Trauma Informed Care: Helping our Students Move from Surviving to Thriving Through Education and Mindfulness” at the Missouri Alternative Education Network conference, held last July at Lake of the Ozarks. The presentation provided information on what trauma is, what causes it and how it impacts students. Mr. Campbell shares steps taken at Summit Ridge Academy, the Lee’s Summit R-7 alternative school, to combat the effects of trauma on students as well as the school’s positive results.

“As a result of our learning and a commitment from our staff, Summit Ridge Academy has seen a dramatic shift in the way we respond to students,” Mr. Campbell said. “We understand the ‘why’ much better and as a result we have incorporated strategies and interventions into our daily routines to meet each student where they are each day. We work very hard to be proactive and meet student needs recognizing that behavior is a symptom of a larger issue.”

This approach allows Summit Ridge staff members to help students learn a new way of dealing with their feelings and emotions that is productive — versus simply reacting to negative behaviors.  

“As a result we have seen a decline in discipline issues and suspensions and an increase in the number of students completing the program and earning their diploma,” Mr. Campbell added.

The state conference held in July included approximately 200 educators in attendance. In addition to presenting on this topic at the state level, Mr. Campbell shared this information with a Kansas City metropolitan area group of alternative school directors and for the Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center (KCRPDC) and will be presenting the topic at the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders Conference, scheduled for February.

Mr. Campbell has worked for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for nine years, including serving as a teacher of students with special needs at Pleasant Lea Middle School and Lee’s Summit West High School. He also served as assistant principal and principal at Harrisonville High School for eight years before returning to Lee’s Summit R-7 in 2015 to work at Summit Ridge Academy.

Four file for two seats on LS R-7 Board of Education

Four candidates have filed for two positions on the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Board of Education. Filing closed for R-7 Board of Education candidates on Jan. 16.

Candidates (listed in filing order) are  John R. Schuler, Julie A. Doane, Ryan N. Murdock and Michael W. McMenus. Mrs. Doane is currently serving as the Board of Education’s vice president. Incumbent Board member Adam Rutherford did not file for re-election.

The annual municipal and school election will be held on April 3. For more information about the R-7 Board of Education, visit http://www.lsr7.org/school-board/board-members/. Board of Education members are elected to three-year terms during at-large elections.

LS R-7 to host Parent Information Night for new Innovation Track on Jan. 30

Program for 2017-18 allows students to earn up to 30 hours of college credit at limited or no cost

The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District will host a Parent Information Night about the district’s Innovation Track, a 2018-19 program providing next year’s high-school juniors and seniors with the opportunity to earn up to 30 hours of college credit at limited or no cost to the student and his/her family. The event, which is open to both parents and students including current sophomores and juniors, will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Lee’s Summit North High School Performing Arts Center, 901 NE Douglas Street.

The Innovation Track, approved by the Board of Education in December, is a partnership between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and the University of Central Missouri (UCM). Students will attend courses at the MCC-Longview campus with the school district providing transportation from their home schools. Sophomores and juniors at all three R-7 high schools began learning about the program in early January with enrollment for 2018-19 taking place Feb. 20, 21 and 22.

The Innovation Track is designed to offer the following to students.

  • A jump start on higher-education degree completion thanks to reduced cost and time to degree completion.
  • A quality education provided by partnered institutions.
  • Access to college and university resources including full student privileges at higher-education institutions.
  • A seamless transition to becoming a MCC or UCM full-time student.
  • Greater flexibility and a competitive advantage for R-7 students among their peers.

The credits earned by the local students through this program will be guaranteed to transfer from not only  MCC to UCM but to virtually any public post-secondary institution in Missouri.   

To qualify for the Innovation Track, students must have a grade-point average of 2.5 and have scored 18 on the ACT. The school district will offer scholarships for the cost of tuition and textbooks for students who qualify based on eligibility for the federal free/reduced lunch program (based on family income). Other students in the Innovation Track will pay for their tuition and books with MCC working to extend the dual credit rate for this program allowing them to experience a 50 percent reduction in cost.

For more information, visit https://www.lsr7.org/sites/innovation-track/.

Community learns about international studies programs at networking event

Programs are offered through Summit Technology Academy and University of Central Missouri

Around 100 community members toured the Missouri Innovation Campus, talked to students and staff members and sampled authentic ethnic cuisine from local restaurants at the International Relations Council Networking Event, held Jan. 9 at the new Lee’s Summit R-7 school.

The evening event provided local citizens with an opportunity to learn more about the prestigious international studies programs offered through Summit Technology Academy (STA) and the University of Central Missouri. Those attending also had the opportunity to view the Student Showcase and discuss projects with high schoolers from Summit Technology; visit with the faculty of the University of Central Missouri Department of Government, International Studies and Languages; mingle with international students; and learn more about the service projects of the STA Interact Club (Rotary International). The Interact Club is currently conducting a fundraiser for the Don Bosco Center, gathering winter clothes and school supplies and collecting money to benefit the center’s clients. For more information about helping with the fundraiser, email curt.cook@lsr7.net.

During the event, students also shared information about Summit International Studies Academy (SISA), a program at STA for high-school juniors and seniors.

The International Relations Council has always been such a supporting business partner of STA over the years. We are so very lucky to have this beautiful facility where we can start hosting events for our current and future business partners,” said Curt Cook, SISA instructor.

Pictured are guests from Global Ties KC Emily Xouris (left) and Sarah Martin, also a former SISA student, at the event.






Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads and his wife, Mary Ann, check in at the networking event.

Rhonda Ireland named Missouri Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year

Rhonda Ireland, Lee’s Summit West High School teacher, was recently named Missouri Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year. She will be honored at the National World War I Memorial and Museum during the MCSS Conference luncheon on Feb. 23. As the state honoree, she will compete for National Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year. 

Ms. Ireland was praised for her dedication to improving the education of both her students and colleagues. According to MCSS, she credits the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for promoting the “workshop model” which has dramatically changed her teaching style. “It is a difficult shift in that students are so used to being ‘told’ what they need to learn versus ‘uncovering’ it on their own,” she said. “Workshop requires an incredible amount of upfront planning, an enormous amount of research, lab classroom hosting as well as observation of my small group cadre with focusing on student ownership.”

The LSWHS teacher was highlighted as a strong advocate of student choice, for connecting students’ study of the past with modern events and for encouraging diversity. In addition to her work in the classroom, Ms. Ireland shares her time and expertise with colleagues, serving as a mentor to others using the workshop model, participating in book studies and meeting monthly with a group from the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. She also serves in leadership positions in several state and national organizations.

At LSWHS, Ms. Ireland teaches International Baccalaureate History of the Americas and Advanced Studies World History. She has worked at LSWHS for three years, previously serving as a social studies and lead teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School and as R-7 School District social studies curriculum specialist. She has worked for the R-7 School District for 25 years.

Ms. Ireland sponsors Youth and Government at LSWHS, facilitates Project Grad and is a Titan Advisor 2018 mentor. She previously served as president of the Missouri Council for the Social Studies. In 2010, she received a national fellowship to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and continues to be involved in the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education Teacher Cadre while serving as a docent for the National Archives and Records Administration. Ms. Ireland also is an examiner for the International Baccalaureate Organization.

A Lee’s Summit resident, Ms. Ireland earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from William Jewell College, her certification in secondary social studies from the University of Central Missouri and her master’s degree in history from UCM.

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