Distinguished Alumni 2017
Foundation announces 2017 Distinguished Alumni award recipients
The Raymore-Peculiar Public School Foundation announces four recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award: Chase Coffman, Cory Kauffman, Cheryl Klein, and Sarah VanHooser Suiter. Each of the award recipients have excelled in their careers and have given back to their communities.
Chase Coffman started attending Ray-Pec schools as a freshman in high school, and graduated with the Class of 2005. During his high school career, he played basketball and football, but was especially known for his success on the football field.
After graduation, he played football from 2005 to 2008 for the University of Missouri where he earned All-American honors and was recognized as the best college tight end in the country. He was chosen by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
While in high school, Coffman earned first-team all-state honors three times and was twice selected first-team all-district and all-conference. During his senior year in 2004, he was named conference player of the year and won the Simone Award, which goes to the best football player in the Kansas City Metro area. He was also a standout basketball player, earning first-team all-conference honors in 2003 and 2004.
Coffman attended the University of Missouri, where he played for Coach Gary Pinkel's Missouri Tigers football team from 2005 to 2008. During his freshman year in 2005, he had one the best seasons ever for a tight end at Missouri. He finished the season earning First-Team Freshman All-American honors by Rivals.com. Coffman went on to earn All-Big 12 honors as a sophomore and senior. In 2008, as a senior, he was unanimously voted 1st team All-American and won the John Mackey Award, given annually to the nation's best tight end. He was inducted into the University of Missouri Hall of Fame in 2015.
Coffman was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round (98th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He spent three seasons in Cincinnati before going on to stints with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and Indianapolis Colts.
With each team, Coffman has helped in the community through projects organized by the teams. These included: reading to students at elementary schools, helping to build community playgrounds, NFL Play 60 events, visits to children's and general hospitals, food drives, cancer benefits, and more.
Back home, Coffman is involved promoting the Cass County Dental Association and assisted with the walk/run for health in May 2017. He has volunteered at Vacation Bible School for a local church, participated in local golf tournaments for charity, and was a speaker at DARE graduations in Drexel, Strasburg, and Sherwood. He was a guest speak at the Ray-Pec Boys Basketball program leadership event. He helped repair a local church. He donated money to fund improvements to the weight room at Ray-Pec High School, serves as a volunteer football coach, and assists his father, Paul Coffman, with a football camp.
Coffman married his high school sweetheart, Stacy, and they have two children, Elsie and Elijah.
Cory Kauffman attended Ray-Pec schools from Kindergarten until he graduated with the Class of 1996. While attending RPHS, he lettered in both tennis and football.
He continued his education and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tampa, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He was a licensed real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty, and found homes for friends and family all around the Kansas City area.
He was also employed by Allstate Insurance as a Claims Service Leader. He was an active member of the Greater Kansas City Claims Association and served as its President for two years.
Kauffman married Tricia Riordan in 2011, and they were blessed with their daughter, Margaret Pearl in 2014. He was a lifelong Kansas City Royals fan, an avid tennis player, and he loved movies, traveling and helping others.
Kauffman had a drive to succeed, personally, professionally, and in the community. First and foremost, he exhibited his dedication and hard work toward his family. This same effort and dedication transferred to his professional career. He prided himself on always being available to answer questions from his team. In addition, he would often times assume others' work to allow others to attend to family commitments.
Kauffman was very involved in Allstate’s Helping Hands Committee. He was passionate about giving back to the community. He volunteered countless hours of his time, made monetary donations, and led many of the campaigns to raise money for community organizations such as: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City, Blair’s Foster Socks, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Harvesters Community Food Network, Marillac Mental Health Facility for Youth, Rose Brooks Center for victims of domestic violence, SAFEHOME, The Salvation Army, Local School Backpacks Drives, Head for the Cure and Hope House.
Kauffman passed away on March 15, 2017, at the age of 39, from a short battle with Pancreatic Cancer. During his life, he inspired others with his charitable nature. Kauffman could best be described as a “Quiet Hero.” He was someone who helped non-profit organizations in the community without fanfare, but who quietly donated his time, talents, money and kindness to help others.
Cheryl Klein is a 1996 graduate of Raymore-Peculiar High School. While attending high school, she was the class secretary and chief copy editor of The Panther Times newspaper.
She also participated in Girls State, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, co-manager of the volleyball team, and captain of the Scholar Bowl.
As a longtime editor in the children's book publishing industry, she has worked on many best-selling and award-winning titles, including the last three volumes of the Harry Potter series.
She is also the author of two adult nonfiction books about writing for children and young adults, and two forthcoming picture books. Cheryl lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband.
After graduation from RPHS, Klein attended Carleton College in Minnesota, from which she graduated with honors in 2000. She then moved to New York City, where she pursued a dream she had since high school of working in the book publishing industry. First hired as an assistant to Arthur A. Levine at Scholastic Books Inc. - the published of the Harry Potter series in the United States - she quickly became an editor of children's and young adult books herself. Books that she edited over the next 16 years received numerous awards and other recognition.
She also assisted Levine with the Harry Potter books, earning the title "continuity editor" for her work coordinating details of the wizarding world across the series. She flew to England to transport the manuscripts for Books 6 and 7 back to the United States, and was profiled on "Nightline" as the series's "Potterologist."
In 2001, she began to speak at writers' conferences, and has given talks in 28 states and two foreign countries. She started writing a blog, soon joined by a website that was later selected as one of Writer's Digest "101 Best Websites for Writers."
Her first book, "Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults," was published in 2011. She came home to Missouri to sell books as a fundraiser for the Cass County Public Library Foundation.
In 2014, Klein and her friend Kathryne Beebe of Belton, who is also an author, offered a workshop at Belton High School for children's and young adult writers, again to support the Cass County Public Library Foundation. She has also taught workshops at other locations.
In fall of 2016, Klein released an extensively revised edition of Second Sight, now entitled "The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults." Later that year, she sold her first picture-book manuscript, a nine-word story that will be illustrated by Caldecott Medal-winning artist Tomie de Paola and published in 2019.
This year. Klein was recruited to be the editorial director for Lee & Low Books, a small publisher that specializes in one of her passions: children's and young adult books by and about people of color. She started working there in March 2017.
In her free time, Klein participates in her church, and enjoys reading, needlework, running, yoga, going to movies and the theatre, and spending time with friends.
Sarah VanHooser Suiter
Sarah VanHooser Suiter, PhD, MS, is an assistant professor of the Practice in Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University and the Director of the Master's Program in Community Development and Action at Vanderbilt. She is a published author, researcher and grant writer.
Suiter is a 1997 graduate of Ray-Pec High School, where she was active in Student Council, soccer, cheerleading, and National Honor Society. She also served as Class President.
She has traveled the world as both a student and educator studying human, organizational, and community development.
Before coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. Suiter was a senior program evaluator at Centerstone Research institute. She received her doctorate from Vanderbilt University in Community Research & Action, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Center for Spirituality, Theology & Health at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Suiter's work engages community-based responses to promoting human health and well-being. She has conducted community-based research with health and human development organizations in the United States and internationally, including PRODEPINE in Ecuador, Casa de Galilea in Buenos Aires, Argentina; the Pujols Family Foundation in the Dominican Republic, Magdalene House, Renewal House, and Project Return Inc. in Nashville, Tenn.; Southlight in Raleigh, N.C., and two federally-funded system of care sites in central Tennessee.
Suiter has taught many college courses including Introduction to Human Services, Community Health Theory and Practice, and Global Dimensions of Community Development. She serves as an academic adviser for undergraduate and graduate students, and on thesis committees for graduate students. She serves on several professional committees and also serves on the Boards of Directors for several non-profit organizations in Nashville.
Dr. Suiter's first book, "Magdalene House: A Place About Mercy," was published in 2012. Her second book, "The Blamed," is in progress.
Past honorees of the Distinguished Alumni Award:
- Linda Bass
- Dr. Sandy Clutter
- Larry L. Dobson
- Beth (Long) Files
- Cole Haynes
- Teresa (January) Hensley
- Emily Lange
- Ted Martin
- Chris Molendorp
- Nancy Morris