Blake Little’s philosophy for life and education revolves around a quote from the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
With that approach, and a 17-year history of service to the Lee’s Summit School District and its students, the history teacher and basketball coach earned the honor of being the district’s Teacher of the Year for 2019.
He said he has taken the Emerson quote to mean “that if we harness our internal strength, that no past transgressions or future obstacles can prevent us from achieving our own personal success.
“In the classroom or on the basketball court, I look at it as my responsibility to help each student realize his/her own personal potential and discover what lies within them,” he said. “I know that each student faces different obstacles in learning both past and present, but I believe that as a teacher and a coach, it is my job to help them develop the skills to not just overcome but succeed.”
Little’s selection was announced at an April 10 community reception, which recognized 12 staff members who had earlier received the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching Award this year, as well as three Teachers of Distinction who previously won the Excellence award and were nominated again.
As Teacher of the Year, Little will now participate in the Missouri Teacher of the Year program.
An alumnus of the school where he now teaches, Little previously worked at Lee’s Summit West High School, where he was International Baccalaureate coordinator. He’s the current president of the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association.
Little has served the school district’s team that is planning on how best to use buildings and shape education going forward. As a National Honor Society sponsor at both Lee’s Summit High and Lee’s Summit West, he helped students with service projects involving the Community Blood Center, Hope House and Special Olympics.
He is the 2015 Daughters of the American Revolution Teacher of the Year, a three-time District Basketball Coach of the Year, a two-time Conference Coach of the Year, the 2016 Kansas City Star Coach of the Year, the 2016 Lambert Award Recipient for KC Metro Coach of the Year and a three-time Senior Class Favorite Teacher at Lee’s Summit West.