As 2016-17 heads toward the home stretch, I wanted to express my gratitude for the opportunity to serve as interim superintendent of our outstanding school district this year. I came to the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District on Sept. 1, 2016, and will serve our schools through the month of June 2017. I frequently heard positive reports about Lee’s Summit R-7 during my more than four decades as a Missouri, Kansas and Iowa educator. During my 11 years across the state line as Blue Valley School District’s superintendent, I was well aware of Lee’s Summit R-7’s quality reputation as a high-performing district.
Dr. Dave Benson, Lee's Summit R-7 Interim Superintendent
During the last few months, it has been especially gratifying to observe our district’s successes first-hand and realize that this reputation is well-deserved. As I began visiting our district’s 28 schools and becoming acquainted with staff members last September, one positive initially came to the forefront — the Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members. Simply stated, there are no finer employees than you will find in our district’s schools and support facilities. I can’t say enough about the district’s emphasis on hiring the best while also providing excellent training and staff development. Our district employees are truly the heart and soul of our schools and are responsible for our success and outstanding reputation.
Soon after joining Lee’s Summit R-7, I came to appreciate the community-centered nature of our school district. Lee’s Summit R-7 is more than a place on a map — it is a feeling, an identification and a high quality of life that people have supported and come to expect. The sense of community here is remarkable as well as the support for our students and schools. This community engagement makes a tremendous difference in our schools’ ability to meet our mission of preparing each student for success in life.
Also admirable within our school district is the willingness among staff members to emphasize continuous improvement. Although our schools and our programs are outstanding, staff members do not hesitate to evaluate what is working and what could be better. Our recently completed Academic Systems Review is an example of our district asking an outside organization to take a critical look at our programs and to make recommendations for improvement.
Without a doubt, one of the most unique programs within our school district is the nationally recognized Missouri Innovation Campus. The MIC is a shining example of K-12 education, higher education and business working together for the benefit of students and employers. The program accelerates the time it takes students to complete a college degree, significantly reduces college debt and provides students with high-demand, job-ready skills. Beginning in August, the MIC along with Summit Technology Academy will be moving into a state-of-the-art facility, allowing us to even better serve our students and community.
With several months left in the interim superintendent’s chair, I am looking forward to continuing to work with our Board of Education, staff and families to ensure a quality education for all students. Education is a people business. And in this business, relationships matter. I’ve enjoyed building relationships with our stakeholders this year and plan to emphasize this as we work together in support of student success.