After serving as superintendent for 100 days, new Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Superintendent Dennis L. Carpenter released a report this month highlighting the need for all students to have an equal opportunity to learn and thrive in the highly rated district.
Based on discussions with district employees and members of the public, Carpenter said the overall public perception of the district is positive.
“The community believes the school district to be a cornerstone that continues to be recognized as one of the most desirable in our country,” he said. “These positive sentiments are also evident in the greater community’s commitment to serving the district.”
Among the district’s strengths are outstanding employees, students who come to school prepared to learn, strong parental involvement, excellent curricular resources, outstanding community support, excellent salaries and benefits for employees, top-quality operations and facilities, and healthy finances.
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His immediate commitments, Carpenter said, are driven by his unwavering belief that excellence and equity cannot be divided.
“To continue to enjoy the tradition of excellence that has become synonymous with our district, we must honor the fact that some subpopulations of students are not participating in our tradition,” he said.
Carpenter’s short-term commitments include emphasizing equity-focused schooling, which tightly couples the district’s work with that of the schools; addressing opportunity gaps among subgroups of students; analyzing and addressing suspension rates in terms of gender, family income, and ethnic groups; and removing barriers for all students to rigorous courses and programs that develop the workforce.
Carpenter, who was hired as superintendent in July 2017, said he wants to forge a culture of equity-focused decision-making that puts students at the center. That would include analyzing hiring processes and developing a school workforce that mirrors the district’s increasing diversity.
Other short-term commitments include critiquing the district’s improvement process to continue meeting the needs of modern students, ensuring that the superintendent provides instructional leadership, and implementing a district-wide mentoring program.
Carpenter’s community discussions also revealed a need for the district to address enrollment growth and increased diversity proactively, endeavoring to meet children’s increasingly complex needs, and also building greater trust by listening to the community.
“I have always heard that you are either getting better or you are falling behind,” Carpenter said. “My commitment to Lee’s Summit R-7 is continuous improvement in all areas. ... There isn’t a community more equipped to do this work than ours.”
Find the complete report at lsr7.org/superintendent.
R-7 schools near top on state report card
The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District has earned the state’s top rating for academic achievement after the mid-November release of Missouri assessment scores.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education annually issues a state report card for public schools, which includes five major standards — academic achievement, subgroup achievement, college and career readiness, attendance rates, and graduation rates.
Lee’s Summit schools earned 137.5 out of a possible 140 points, a score of 98.2 percent for the 2016-17 school year. That continues a steady climb in performance — from 92.5 in 2013-14 to 96.8 in 2014-15 and 97.9 in 2015-16.
“The Annual Performance Report reflects the high level of instructional effectiveness taking place in our schools,” new R-7 Superintendent Dennis L. Carpenter said. “This is reflective of the quality of teachers and students we get to work with in our district. As we look to the future, this data also points to our greatest opportunity and that is ensuring that each student in our district participates in the level of academic achievement that has become synonymous with Lee’s Summit R-7.”
Gifts of food, for here and abroad
Nothing says “we care” like food, a truism that two Lee’s Summit schools recently put into practice.
Greenwood Elementary sixth-graders traveled to Fellowship of Greenwood Church, a school business partner, earlier this month to participate in the Feed My Starving Children project.
Working with adults, the church and their school, the children packed meals to send to children in Nicaragua. The project will feed 13,176 children.
The beneficiaries were closer to home for the Lee’s Summit North High School Student Activity Advisory Council, which finished a “Late Night Cookies” effort to thank community servants who work all hours of the day and night.
The student leaders baked and decorated the treats at school and delivered them Nov. 18 to Lee’s Summit Hospital, St. Luke’s East Hospital, the Lee’s Summit Police Department and two fire stations in the city.
LS West debaters earn accolades
The Lee’s Summit West High School speech and debate team was named among the Top 100 schools in the National Speech and Debate Association for the 2016-17 school year.
Lee’s Summit West ranked No. 23 out of more than 3,000 schools nationwide.
In addition, the program was recently ranked among the top 1 percent nationwide by the same national group.
Students earn points and degrees based on competitive and service-related activities. The Lee’s Summit West chapter earned more than 500 degrees and received the association’s prestigious Pentagon Society Award.
“The designation is remarkable because it demonstrates outstanding commitment to teaching students essential life skills — including communication, research, listening, writing and organization,” said J. Scott Wunn, executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association.
Students to accept donations during ‘Freeze Out’
Tiger Smart, Bronco Smart and Titan Smart will spend four hours outdoors in a box city Dec. 1 during their annual “Freeze Out” in front of Lee’s Summit High School.
From 5 to 9 p.m. , the students will experience some of the hardship associated with homelessness, relying solely upon community donations for warmth. At the same time, they will collect items for needy people in Lee’s Summit.
The students will take donations of clothing, especially coats and winter apparel, for local charities. In addition this year, they are accepting canned milk, soup, spaghetti sauce, pasta, peanut butter, canned chicken, and to-go snacks — like granola bars, toaster pastries, and fruit snacks — to fill each school’s Feed-A-Need pantry.
Community members are asked to drop donations at the school’s Building A south entrance, near the tiger’s head.
The Smart organization provides alcohol-, tobacco- and drug-free activities that promote character and healthy lifestyles for members and the whole student body.
Compiled by Elaine Adams, Special to the Journal