Lee's Summit Journal

Students in Lee’s Summit and Kenya will tackle global issues together

Dots were everywhere in mid-September at Greenwood Elementary School.
Dots were everywhere in mid-September at Greenwood Elementary School.

Students in Lee’s Summit and Kenya will tackle global issues together

Without leaving their classrooms, young people in Lee’s Summit will collaborate with students in the African nation of Kenya to tackle weighty world problems.

They can do that because the University of Central Missouri and Summit Technology Academy have partnered with the global technology company Digloso to bring the collaboration about.

Called KenMo, the initiative will pair Summit Technology Academy’s international studies students with students from the Makueni Innovation Campus in Kenya. Together, they will brainstorm solutions to community issues by collaborating with local organizations, businesses and government agencies in their respective countries, according to the Lee’s Summit School District.

The project, instigated through a connection in this area’s business community, is starting this fall at the university’s Gigabit Lab in its Lee’s Summit campus.

Summit Technology Academy is operated by the Lee’s Summit School District and accepts students from surrounding districts. The academy and the University of Central Missouri’s Lee’s Summit campus share space in the Missouri Innovation Campus, which opened in 2017 at 1101 N.W. Innovation Parkway.

The two entities, along with Metropolitan Community College and business partners, have developed programs that fast-track students toward college degrees while providing a trained work force to local businesses.

On Sept. 23, Kenyan politician and human rights activist Kivutha Kibwana was to tour the Missouri Innovation Campus and learn more about KenMo from students, instructors and members of the business community.

Earlier this month, the American and Kenyan students took part in a video conference, where they discussed their day-to-day lives as well as KenMo. John Musau, the founder and CEO of Digloso, participated in Kenya.

“I’m inspired to see students learn by leveraging technology to foster global collaboration in resolving world challenges by implementing projects that provide real-world sustainable solutions,” Musau said in a UCM press release.

Musau’s company focuses on bringing digital infrastructure and other technology to emerging economies. According to UCM, he has worked with students and staff at the Kenya and Lee’s Summit schools to connect with community organizations.

“International Studies and Summit Technology Academy have generous business partners in the Kansas City international community,” said Curt Cook, international studies teacher at Summit Technology Academy. “After hearing about John Musau’s work, one of our partners immediately recognized a connection, and introduced us.”

The university “enthusiastically joined the partnership,” said Joe Mullins of UCM, which is providing resources and support. “We are excited about engaging with the students with regard to hands-on experiences with technology such as Internet of Things, virtual reality and telehealth and entrepreneurship.”

KenMo is seeking individuals and organizations willing to help fund the effort. Anyone interested may contact Cook at curtis.cook@lsr7.net or Mullins at jmullins@ucmo.edu.

Creativity spotted on Dot Day

Have you heard of International Dot Day? We hadn’t either, until Greenwood Elementary School students marked the occasion with creative activities led by art teacher Mia McKitterick.

“If you have the right encouragement and the right kind words, you can make your mark,” McKitterick told her second-graders.

According to its website, International Dot Day is “a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration” that began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book “The Dot” on Sept. 15, 2009.

In the book, a caring teacher dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark.”

“What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe,” the site said.

International Dot Day has since been celebrated on or about Sept. 15.

At Greenwood, students rotated among five stations to make dot-themed projects. They also dressed in dots. Eventually, their work will become part of a mural filled with student art.

Foundation funds lesson on chickens and eggs

Who doesn’t like baby chicks?

Students at Hazel Grove Elementary School certainly do.

A classroom grant from the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation paid for chicken-hatching equipment and materials this year. Kindergarten teacher Susan Dunham noted that while some districts can’t provide even basic classroom supplies, she been not only the basics but resources that lead to “more meaningful learning.”

“The kids are out of their minds with excitement,” Dunham said. “This process has led to researching chicks and recording observations, too. Such a fun way to learn.”

The foundation is still raising money for 2019-20 campaign. Donations can be made at www.lsedfoundation.com.