Twelve Lee’s Summit R-7 School District teachers receive Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching Awards

Twelve Lee’s Summit R-7 School District educators were recently named Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching award winners.

Recognized teachers are Matt Buxton, Lee’s Summit High School; Kelly Bailey Eames, Lee’s Summit Elementary School; Nicole Gilbert, Highland Park Elementary School; Jamie Harrel, Hawthorn Hill Elementary School; Shawn Harrel, Summit Technology Academy; Lauren Hollingsworth, Lee’s Summit North High School; Dr. Kevin McCormick, Summit Technology Academy; Sherri Norton, Lee’s Summit North High School; Janelle Pugh, Highland Park Elementary School;  Kristen Shackelford, Sunset Valley Elementary School; Clif Thurmond, Lee’s Summit West High School and Woodland Elementary School; and Kelli Wilson, Lee’s Summit High School.


from LS R-7 Schools

All 12 recipients will be honored at a reception and program scheduled from 4:30 to 6 p.m. April 11 at The Stanley in downtown Lee’s Summit, 25 SW 3rd Street. The reception is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the R-7 School District, and all students, parents and community members are invited to attend. At approximately 5 p.m., a brief program highlighting each of the 12 Excellence In Teaching Award winners, as well as three Teachers of Distinction, will begin.

The Excellence In Teaching recipients were selected by a committee composed representatives from the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, the business community and R-7 staff.

Matt Buxton is an English teacher at Lee’s Summit High School. He has been teaching for 12 years, with 10 years in the Lee’s Summit School District. Mr. Buxton, a member of the English 9 and 10 curriculum writing team, has also been nominated for the Missouri Scholars Academy Citation of Excellence. He is currently a mentor workshop teacher for the BTAP program, received a $2,500 grant from the Thank a Million Teachers Organization and has worked with the Lee’s Summit R-7 Chinese Exchange program.

Kelly Bailey Eames teaches sixth grade at Lee’s Summit Elementary School. She has been a teacher for 20 years, all in the Lee’s Summit District. She serves on several school and district committees including English Language Arts, Professional Learning Community and Step up to Writing. In 2012, Mrs. Eames was awarded the R-7 Learning for Life award. This award is presented to one employee in the district each month who is nominated by co-workers and selected by a staff committee. She has also received more than a dozen PEAK grants and been awarded the IRA literacy award. Outside of the classroom, Kelly is an active volunteer and supporter of downtown Lee’s Summit.

Nicole Gilbert, a counselor at Highland Park Elementary, has been in the district for 10 years. Mrs. Gilbert successfully implemented a Wellbeing Program at Highland Park with the focus to improve staff morale and physical/mental wellbeing. She also established two successful programs to reinforce positive student behavior, the Point Card System at Pleasant Lea Elementary and the Peer Triage Leader program at Highland Park Elementary. In 2017-18, Nicole was nominated for GKCSCA Elementary School Counselor of the year. As a building leader, Mrs. Gilbert served a three year term as co-facilitator of the staff Lighthouse Team which initiated Leader In Me program at Highland Park. She also oversaw the Lighthouse School Certification process.  

Jamie Harrel is a first grade teacher at Hawthorn Hill Elementary School. She has been teaching for 16 years, eight of those in the Lee’s Summit School District. She serves as a representative on a number of building and district committees including curriculum and assessment writing teams. Mrs. Harrel has been awarded two PEAK grants by the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation. Outside of school, Mrs. Harrel and her children volunteer for the Coldwater summer lunch program, which prepares 100 to 150 sack lunches for 10 weeks for children throughout the Lee’s Summit community. She was also selected to be an inaugural member of the Kansas City Zoo Teacher Advisory Board.

Shawn Harrel is a digital media technology teacher at Summit Technology Academy. Mr. Harrel has been teaching for 14 years, initially at Lee’s Summit West High School and now at STA. He founded a summer jazz camp for students and has sought to use gamification to increase student engagement. Shawn oversees the social media presence for Summit Technology Academy and also works as part time video production specialist for the district, creating content to promote community engagement. Outside of the classroom, Mr. Harrel works as an adjunct professor at UMKC, teaching instrumental arranging, and he works as a part-time weekend announcer at KCUR 89.3 FM.  

Lauren Hollingsworth is a social studies teacher at Lee’s Summit North High School. She has been a teacher in Lee’s Summit for 10 years. While at LSN, Mrs. Hollingsworth established an enrichment program implemented during Bronco Time for young ladies who seek to balance school and stress and encourage the making of good life decisions. She is also a National Honor Society sponsor and coordinates and leads the school-wide American Red Cross Blood Drive with average of seventy pints donated annually. Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Hollingsworth has been a four-time presenter at Missouri Council of the Social Studies conference on topics such as incorporating music into the social studies classroom and standards based grading strategies.   

Dr. Kevin McCormick is a biomedical science teacher at Summit Technology Academy. Dr. McCormick has been teaching for seven years, six of which have been in Lee’s Summit. He established and sponsors Summit Technology Academy’s bio-design club and develops students for careers in healthcare. He also is the Project Lead the Way biomedical science teacher for medical interventions and biomedical innovations. In his spare time, Dr. McCormick mentors students for Kansas City’s Biomedical Innovations Seniors Showcase Competition, Skills USA, HOSA and Brain Bee competitions. Additionally, he has presented at a number of professional conferences on a variety of STEM-related topics.

Sherri Norton teaches business classes at Lee’s Summit North High School. She has a total 17 years of teaching experience, including 16 years in the Lee’s Summit School District, where she serves as the department chair for the Business, Marketing and Information Technology Department. She is a coordinator of the Supervised Business Experience (SBE) Student Internship program and webmaster for Lee’s Summit North High School. In 2015, Ms. Norton was awarded a PEAK grant from the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation to aid in teaching students how to build mobile-friendly responsive websites. Outside of the classroom, she works with Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce and University of Central Missouri to develop and implement a program called Innovate 8 for high school students interested in innovation and entrepreneurship.

Janelle Pugh is a special education teacher at Highland Park Elementary School. She has been teaching for 29 years, 18 of those in the R-7 School District. Mrs. Pugh is active in and out of the classroom as special education building lead teacher and facilitator for Highland Park Elementary. She is also the special education collaboration facilitator for Elementary Special Education. Mrs. Pugh participated in the Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People training in preparation of becoming a Leader In Me school at Highland Park, earning the prestigious recognition of a Lighthouse school 2017 and Lighthouse school of Academic Distinction 2018. Mrs. Pugh is also a four-time PEAK grant recipient, awarded in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2006 by the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation.

Kristen Shackelford teaches fourth grade at Sunset Valley Elementary. She has been teaching for nine years, all in the Lee’s Summit School District. Mrs. Shackelford established a student technology club to promote computer science and coding for students. She serves as a mentor to beginning teachers and was involved in the development of the BTAP website to support new teachers. In 2016, Mrs. Shackelford was a Lee’s Summit Education Foundation PEAK grant recipient and awarded the funds for a K’NEX energy kit and Breakout EDU Box.  She participates in a number of school and district level teams and has attended a number of professional workshops.

Clif Thurmond is the director of bands at Lee’s Summit West High School and Woodland Elementary School. He has a total of 19 years of teaching experience, all in Lee’s Summit. Mr. Thurmond has organized numerous performance opportunities for students locally, regionally and nationally. In 2017 and 2012, he and the Lee’s Summit West Wind Ensemble were accepted by the Missouri Music Educators Association to perform at its annual convention. Mr. Thurmond also helped refine the curriculum for all R-7 secondary bands, with the objective to develop fundamental music skills through daily instruction and provide consistency through each level of the program. Outside of the classroom, he and the Lee’s Summit West Titan Pride Marching Band were instrumental in the success of the Truly 150 Event in Lee’s Summit.

Kelli Wilson is an English/Language Arts teacher at Lee’s Summit High School. She has been teaching for 20 years, 15 of those in the Lee’s Summit School District. Mrs. Wilson is the lead teacher for the English Language Arts department at Lee’s Summit High School and has initiated an independent reading program for students. She also is an active participant in curriculum writing teams. Since 2007, she has served as the ACT prep class teacher at LSHS. Mrs. Wilson was a PEAK grant recipient in 2014, awarded by Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation. She has attended a number of regional and national workshops and is active in the community

Joining the 12 Excellence In Teaching Award winners, other finalists for 2018 Teacher of the Year include three Teachers of Distinction, former Excellence In Teaching recipients who were nominated for the award again this year. The Teachers of Distinction interviewing for Teacher of the Year are Anne Braun, Woodland Elementary School; Christie Brown, Summit Lakes Middle School; and Tammi Krones, Lee’s Summit High School.  

Anne Braun teaches fifth grade at Woodland Elementary School. She has been teaching for 23 years, with 19 years in the district. A math and reading leader at Woodland, Mrs. Braun presents math strategies and research to the school staff to assist them in meeting the needs of each learner. She also leads presentations on how to implement Google Read Write extensions and is the building leader in sharing resources to help teachers with math instruction, technology infusion and writer’s workshop strategies. Mrs. Braun was a PEAK grant recipient in 2011, awarded by the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation and has both attended and presented at numerous local, state and regional workshops. She received the Excellence In Teaching award in 2017 and was nominated again this year.

Christie Brown is a library media specialist at Summit Lakes Middle School. She has been teaching 23 years, 17 of those in Lee’s Summit. Mrs. Brown facilitates various school literacy initiatives as co-facilitator of the SLMS Literacy Team and is coordinator of the SSR program, which focuses on reading, research and writing. Mrs. Brown is a leader in local, state and regional library organizations as well, having presented at a number of Missouri Association of School Libraries conferences and workshops. She currently serves as president of the Greater Kansas City Association of School Librarians and has chaired the state-wide Truman Reader Awards reader-selector team. In 2015, Mrs. Brown was awarded the Librarian of the Year award from the GKCASL. She received the Excellence In Teaching award in 2010 and was nominated again this year.

Tammi S. Krones is a business and marketing teacher at Lee’s Summit High School. She has been teaching for 23 years, with 21 years in R-7. Mrs. Krones is a member of the Charter Principal’s Advisory Team at LSHS, which is designed to develop, carry out and revise the school’s vision, mission and goals. She is also the LSHS Business and Marketing Department lead teacher, where she helped launch the International Baccalaureate business management course. Outside the classroom, she serves as a mentor to LSHS new teachers as well as new business and marketing teachers for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Additionally, Mrs. Krones is a writer on the DESE Business Technology and Computer Applications Model Curriculum Advisory team. She received the Excellence In Teaching award in 2014 and was nominated again this year.

The announcement of the 2018 Teacher of the Year will be made at the April 11 reception.