Until approximately 1990, the Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce conducted an Excellence In Teaching program and the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District conducted a Teacher of the Year program. At that time, the two organizations, amid partnering conversations, decided to combine efforts with the Excellence In Teaching recipients being the candidates to interview for Teacher of the Year.
Education Committee volunteers, R-7 administrators, and former Teacher of the Years comprise the selection committee. This committee reads all of the Excellence In Teaching applications and select twelve Excellence In Teaching recipients. The twelve finalists go on to interview with the selection committee who selects the R-7 Teacher of the Year, who is recognized at spring reception.
Former recipients of Excellence In Teaching, may not win it again. However, if that teacher be nominated again, he/she can complete the application process to be selected as a Teacher of Distinction. Up to three Teachers of Distinction will be selected each year. These Teachers of Distinction go on to interview for Teacher of the Year.
All Excellence In Teaching recipients and Teachers of Distinction are recognized at a spring reception hosted by the Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce and the R-7 School District. It's at this reception that the Teacher of the Year is announced.
The R-7 Teacher of the Year goes on to participate in the Missouri Teacher of the Year selection process. Lee's Summit R-7 School District has had three Teachers of the Year go on to be selected as Missouri Teacher of the Year. These teachers are Marcia Ritter, Susanne Mitko, and Kristen Merrell.