2021 Teacher/Support Staff Employee of the Year

Congratulations to 2021 Teacher of the Year Todd Schnake and Support Staff Employee of the Year Amanda Reed! The announcement of both awards was made on May 3. A small group of District administrators surprised each recipient with the news, just before it was announced to the public. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no banquet event this year.

Schnake teaches speech and theatre at Ray-Pec High School. Reed is the child nutrition manager at Eagle Glen Elementary School.


As winners, Schnake and Reed each receive a $500 cash award, a desk award, and banners for their school. Their photos will be displayed at the Administrative Services Center. In addition, Schnake will receive a Teacher of the Year ring from Balfour and will be the District's nominee for Missouri Teacher of the Year. Schnake, Reed, and all of the finalists will receive a plaque and items donated by local businesses.

Teacher of the Year Todd Schnake is pictured with School Board President Ruth Johnson, at left, and Dr. Al Voelker, Assistant Superintendent for Academic Services, at right.

Todd Schnake with RJ and AV

Support Staff Employee of the Year Amanda Reed is pictured with Superintendent Dr. Mike Slagle, at left, and School Board President Ruth Johnson, at right.

Amanda Reed with banner

Here's a video of the presentations to Amanda Reed and Todd Schnake.


Todd Schnake is 2021 Teacher of the Year

Schnake teaches speech and theatre at Ray-Pec High School. This is his 30th year of teaching - all in the Ray-Pec School District. The first two years, he taught at the middle school. This is his 28th year teaching at the high school.

He earned his bachelor's degree in education from the University of Central Missouri, a master's degree from UCM, and his education specialist degree from William Woods University. 

Schnake was also a finalist for Ray-Pec Teacher of the Year in 2005, 2011, and 2017. He was named Missouri State Thespian Teacher of the Year in 2006, and received the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri's Outstanding Theatre Teacher award in the 2006-2007 school year. He was the National Federation of High Schools Missouri State Teacher of the Year for Speech, Debate, and Theatre during the 2014-2015 school year.

Todd Schnake 2
Andrea Ambam and Todd Schnake

Schnake has coached National Speech and Debate Association National Champions in Oratory (Andrea Ambam in 2014 pictured above) and Program Oral Interpretation (his daughter Ella Schnake in 2019) 

He has coached more Missouri State Champions (30) in Speech, Theatre, and Debate than any other coach in the history of the competition.

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Schnake has directed four Blue Star Outstanding Overall Musical Productions and has a 13-year streak of being one of the finalists. Both are more than any other school in the greater Kansas City metro area. In addition, he has directed five productions selected to performing on the mainstage at the International Thespian Festival. (Approximately 12 are selected nationwide each year.)

oustanding overall production on stage 3

Nominations

More than 90 letters were submitted to nominate Schnake for this award. Many of the nominations came from current students, current and former colleagues, and parents. But the majority of the letters were submitted by former students. Here are excerpts from a few letters:

  • "Todd has instilled many life lessons in me. Two of them I repeat to this day. I can still hear him say, 'act like you've been there before,' and 'walk with a purpose.' "
  • "I dropped out of school by the end of sophomore year. Later on in life, I joined the Navy and improved my deficiencies through self-discipline and time. There is never a wide enough net to save all the lost children that come through a school year by year, and many struggling teenagers are only lacking some special person to see their potential. Todd Schnake and Michael Beahm were the only two faculty members who looked past my disposition and saw potential within me."
  • "Mr. Schnake's dedication to his students and theatre arts helped me learn to use my voice, be part of a team, be innovative and imaginative, and grow into an adult with the ability to have a successful career as a physician and international speaker."
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  • "He held very high expectations, and as students, we learned to hold those expectations for ourselves. I was never afraid of failure. He made it clear that the best work could only be accomplished if you also took great risk."
  • "Mr. Schnake remains the voice in my head, encouraging me that excellence is always worthwhile."
  • "Mr. Schnake taught us the value of resiliency and celebrating all wins, even the tiny ones."
  • "Whenever an opening appeared in (our school district), I would contact Todd and ask him to please consider joining us. I knew how good he was and I wanted to have him and his abilities there working with our students. He always politely declined, saying he belonged at Ray-Pec. And so, it was with a mixture of disappointment and admiration that I watched him create the best high school theatre program in the state."

Why he became a teacher

i grew up on a farm outside a very small town. The year I graduated, my high school had only 42 students enrolled in grades 9-12, and there were only 10 in my graduating class. Yes, during my years in the Chilhowee School District, I was fortunate enough to have a few teachers who helped me see the possibilities the outside world present, and inspired me to seek ways to make my mark. Initially when I went to college, I was considering a career in theatrical performance. Then, as part of a class requirement, I was assigned to direct a one-act play. As I worked on the project, I realized how much more enjoyable it was to not only work on the play, but to help someone else discover the best within themselves. Good theatre is good theatre, whether it's done by professional actors or by high school students. I then knew that teaching was what I was called to do. I could help young people find their potential as my teachers had done for me, and I could do it within a discipline that I love. Teaching isn't what I do, it's who I am. I hope that I can impact my students the way I was impacted by so many educators along the way.

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From Principal Steven Miller

"His energy and enthusiasm are contagious, and his students always know that each and every day they will get the very best that Mr. Schnake has to offer. In turn, they also know that he will demand the very best that they have to offer as well, and there is no hesitation from the students to give anything but their very best because of the genuine relationships that he has taken the time to foster."

From the judges

Each finalist for Teacher of the Year had interviews with Dr. Sara Jones, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Belton School District; and Paige Welhoff, Administrative Assistant with the Harrisonville School District. 

In selecting Schnake as Teacher of the Year, the judges noted his passion for teaching and, more importantly, the success of his students in whatever path they chose. They felt that his initial calling to education was selfless and grounded in a desire to help others grow and excel. They said that the nomination letters outlined the impact that Schnake had on others' lives over time, and the interview confirmed the sentiment of why he deserved the Teacher of the Year award.

Amanda Reed with sign

Amanda Reed is Support Staff Employee of the Year

Reed is the child nutrition manager at Eagle Glen Elementary School. She has been working for the District since March 2016. In her position, she manages a team in the kitchen, follows recipes and guidelines to ensure safe and nutritious meals, orders supplies and completes paperwork, and maintains excellent customer service. 

Before working at Ray-Pec, Reed worked as a billing specialist and collector for Lincare in Lenexa, Kan., and as the front desk clerk at the Comfort Inn in Belton. Reed lives in Harrisonville with her mother, her daughter, one of her sons, and a 4-year-old nephew that she is raising.


Amanda Reed 2021

"We moved to the district in 2014, when my children were in 9th, 7th, and 4th grades. We found a home at Ray-Pec. This was the first district where my children felt at home and understood. The district was very quick to help me support my children and meet their needs academically."

"In 2016, I decided to come aboard and joined the Child Nutrition team. It has been, by far, the most rewarding job I have ever had. If I had known sooner, I could have enjoyed more time with my children as they grew up. I recommend the district to all that I meet, not only for education, but for career purposes."

In her spare time, she loves to fish, spoil her 1-year-old grandson, and look for extraordinary hats to wear at school.

Amanda Reed in umbrella hat

Nomination

Reed was nominated by Alexis Stark, administrative intern at Ray-Pec East Middle School, who said:

"My son has been riding a wave of different health concerns, the most recently dealing with his diet, and she has been so amazingly helpful and accommodating to his needs. I was so stressed when I found out he would need a modified diet to be his best and have a better shot at success in the classroom, but when I shared this with Amanda, she was amazingly reassuring. She goes the extra mile to try and make the lunches for kids with different dietary needs match those of all the other students to the best of her abilities. This demonstrates a true level of care and understanding toward all children. She is a wonderful asset to the students of Eagle Glen."

Amanda Reed squid hat

From Director of Child Nutrition Sarah Chellberg:

"Our Child Nutrition employees have a critical job of making sure our students are nourished and ready for a day of learning. Amanda Reed excels in her position.

"Amanda is one of the very few people you encounter with a Clifton Strength of 'Woo,' and you will know it the instant you meet her! She is joyful and bubbly and super outgoing. She is one of our team's greatest cheerleaders. She is the first to day, 'We can do this!' and be willing to give a new idea a try. But, even better is how she uses her positive energy to carry those who are resistant to making needed changes."

Amanda is incredibly creative and has used those ideas to stay connected with students this school year, even when students aren't coming into our cafeterias. Her team decorated the delivery carts they use to take meals to the classrooms for every season. She can also frequently be spotted with festive hats, depending on the day's menu. Wearing a pizza hat, turkey hat, or banana crown may seem silly to some, but for Amanda, it sparks smiles and conversation with her students."

EG Lunch Cart

"She goes above and beyond for students on special diets. She has worked with parents to become very knowledgeable about gluten-free diets and products. She personally shops for gluten-free items to serve her students, and has sought out items that will always be similar to what the other students are having the menu each day. She started test baking gluten-free pizza dough in order to provide gluten-free pizza munchable kits to her special diet students!"

Amanda Reed EG cafe

How she makes a difference

Reed said:

"I lead a team of three ladies. We have gone through so many changes and adapted to feeding during COVID. We have worked through school closing and emergency feeding through June and July 2020. In the rain, ice, snow, and sunshine - with one purpose: to feed students. They are our priority. 

There are students with special dietary needs. I make sure they have the same options as their classmates, so they feel no different.

Every day, I run the halls, greeting students, usually in my different hats to make them smile. I try to call them by name, and remember details about them. I try to be the 'smile' they have for the day to make them feel important and special. I get as involved as a I can, and sign up to read to classrooms. I couldn't do any of these things if it weren't for my team and my school family at Eagle Glen. I am truly blessed to be part of the BIGGER pictures that is Ray-Pec."

Child nutrition tent

From the judges

Each finalist for the Support Staff Employee of the Year award had an interview with two judges: Jill Filer, Director of Communications and Community Relations for the Harrisonville School District, and Danielle Nixon, Director of Communications and Community Relations for the Raytown School District. 

The judges were impressed with all of the finalists.. They said they all have a heart for students and love their jobs.

In selecting Reed, they were struck by her enthusiasm and her commitment to the importance of her job. They also noted that Reed is aware of the impact her positive attitude can have on her co-workers and students. She told the judges that it doesn't matter who you are, or what role you have, you can make a difference for students. Reed also told the judges about her experiences in expanding students' knowledge about food. For example, one student asked her about the "white broccoli" (cauliflower) that was included in lunch. 

Child nutrition note

Teacher of the Year finalists

Congratulations to the finalists for Raymore-Peculiar 2021 Teacher of the Year:

  • Jenni Beck, Raymore Elementary
  • Becky Howard, Creekmoor Elementary School
  • Dillon Jarrett, Ray-Pec South Middle School
  • Shaniece Martin, Timber Creek Elementary School
  • Cassie Passeau, Shull Early Learning Center
  • Lisa Roberts, Ray-Pec High School
  • Todd Schnake, Ray-Pec High School
  • Melanie Taylor, Stonegate Elementary School
  • Christina Weaver, Bridle Ridge Elementary School
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Support Staff Employee of the Year finalists

Congratulations to the finalists for the Ray-Pec 2021 Support Staff Employee of the Year award:

  • Renee Anthuis, Raymore Elementary School
  • Jorge Arvayo, Buildings and Grounds Department
  • Teresa Eberhart, Ray-Pec East Middle School
  • Barb Fredrickson, Ray-Pec East Middle School
  • Karla Heinrich, Raymore Elementary School
  • Jennifer Landis, Technology Department
  • Amanda Reed, Child Nutrition, Eagle Glen Elementary School
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Teacher of the Year nominees

Congratulations to these other teachers who were also nominated for Teacher of the Year:

  • Bridle Ridge Elementary School: Natalie Shrider.
  • Eagle Glen Elementary School: Kim Allan, Jennifer Buckley, Christal Heier, Simon Schupp, and Michelle Wallace.
  • Raymore Elementary School: Kellee Clark, Valerie Collom, Kelsi Kershner, Angie LaSala, and Lindsay Meyer.
  • Stonegate Elementary School: Tracy LeRosen and Ashlie Renfro.
  • Timber Creek Elementary School: Charity Bennett, Lynn Noirfalise, and Amanda Wallace.
  • Ray-Pec East Middle School: Cathy Pittman, Jason Rose, and George Tombaugh.
  • Ray-Pec South Middle School: Lydia Baker, Carol Holsman, and Haley Mathis.
  • Ray-Pec High School: Jonathan Benson, Heather Clark, Patrick Hemmingsen, Cara Hornbeck, Nicole Ingram, Heidi Lanksbury, Whitney Mikkelsen, Stephen Rew, Ashley Rowland, and Drew Shaul.
  • VIPR Elementary: Lisa Carr.
  • VIPR Middle School: Angela Stein.
  • VIPR High School: Haleigh Thompson.

Support Staff Employee of the Year nominees

Congratulations to these other employees who were also nominated for Support Staff Employee of the Year:

  • Creekmoor Elementary School: Diana Boos and Penny Scott.
  • Eagle Glen Elementary School: Elizabeth Breier, Deanna Brucker, and Brenda Reinholdt.
  • Stonegate Elementary School: Stephanie Como, Gigi Duran, Corrie Posey, and Crystal Sheppard.
  • Shull Early Learning Center: Caitlyn Ebert and Brandon Romero.
  • Ray-Pec South Middle School: Adreanna Wescoat and Wendy Williams.

Sponsors and contributors

Ray-Pec Public School FoundationApple BusDr. Mike and Jenny SlagleCBIZ-Dave Johnson
CSD Credit UnionMax MotorsMatt Davidson - State FarmJE Dunn Construction
Jamesons Garage Door ServiceMOD PizzaSmile DoctorsLove to Smile Dentistry