Congrats to 2018 Teacher of the Year Brett Beneke and Support Staff Employee of the Year Kelley Weida! The announcement of both awards came during the April 11 dinner to honor the finalists.
Beneke teaches English Literature and Composition Teacher at Ray-Pec High School. He has been teaching four years - all at Ray-Pec High School. Weida is the Administrative Assistant at Shull Early Learning Center, She has worked in the district as a school secretary for five years.
Pictured from left: Kristy Warren, 2017 Support Staff Employee of the Year; Debbie Wescoat, 2007 Support Staff Employee of the Year; Kelley Weida; Superintendent Dr. Kari Monsees; Brett Beneke; Dan Garrison, 2017 Teacher of the Year (hidden behind banner); and Rebecca Gooding, 2010 Teacher of the Year.
As the winners, Beneke and Wedia each received a $500 cash award, an acrylic desk award, and banners for their schools. Their photos will be on display at the Administrative Services Center. They also received gift cards from Price Chopper, Brewbakers, and Sonic; and other gifts.
In addition, Beneke receives a Teacher of the Year ring from Balfour, and will be the District’s nominee for Missouri Teacher of the Year. Beneke, Weida, and all of the finalists received a plaque, and a bag with gifts, coupons, and other items donated by local businesses.
Meet the Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Employee of the Year finalists:
Brett Beneke teaches English Literature and Composition to sophomores and juniors at Ray-Pec High School. He has been teaching four years - all at Ray-Pec High School.
Brett earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Kansas and his teaching certification from Avila University. He is currently working toward his master’s degree.
Brett said his most formative job after college was a two-year period in New Jersey working at Happiness is Camping for childhood cancer patients and survivors. That was where he got the bug to teach and decided to return to school to become certified as a teacher.
Last year, Brett was selected to participate in a Fulbright Research trip to Rwanda, where he spent a month studying how educational structures and systems were used to rebuild the country following the 1994 genocide. It was also an opportunity to compare learning strategies and exchange ideas with educators from around the metro and throughout Africa.
He loves attending concerts and watches “more movies than is reasonable.” He enjoys outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, and bicycling. He also loves to read.
He was nominated by Parent Kim McCauley:
“He is very kind and supportive and pushes all of his students to be their best. His love of English and literature is truly inspirational to his students. He sends regular email updates to the students and parents. These include a lot of helpful information and guidelines about their current projects, and allows parents to remain in the loop. Not typical at the high school level, but something we very much appreciate. His love for what he is doing is reflected in his teaching style and the amount of time and effort he puts into every aspect of his job. Writing is such an important skill that these students will use for the rest of their lives.”
From Principal Steven Miller:
“Mr. Beneke is an exceptional teacher who is dearly loved and respected by his students. He makes every effort to reach out to each and every one of his students so as to form connections with them on a personal level - thereby giving him an opportunity continually encourage their emotional and educational growth.”
Each finalist was asked to tell why he or she became a teacher. Brett said:
“Originally, I thought I became a teacher because I like reading and it was a nice opportunity to build a career around that interest. Later, I thought it was because I wanted to share knowledge about the books themselves. That gave way to wanting to share how to express the knowledge in writing and speech. Now I’m feeling like I chose to teach because I was fortunate enough to find a filter through with to understand something about the world.”
Kelley is the administrative assistant at Shull Early Learning Center. She has been in this position since the center opened last summer. She has been a school secretary for five years in the District.
A Minnesota native, Kelley earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. She earned a paralegal certificate from Johnson County Community College.
Before coming to work at Ray-Pec, she worked 15 years as a paralegal in business litigation law. She was self-employed with a direct sales company 10 years as a senior director and national trainer. She was recognized for top sales and growth each year.
Kelley and her husband, Rob, have been married 32 years. He is the principal at Peculiar Elementary School. They have two sons who are Ray-Pec graduates. Dan and his wife, Emily, live in Colorado. Joe lives in Peculiar.
She and her family love to cycle and travel with their bikes. They also enjoy skiing and working out. She is involved in Pathway to Hope, an organization that helps families through mental health challenges. She and Rob lead “EnCourage,” a support group for parents of children with mental health issues. She has been an active member of Bethlehem Lutheran Church for 30 years.
She was nominated by Mary Shatford, Director of Early Learning:
“Everyday, Kelley posts inspiring and fun quotes on SIS. When staff members log in to complete attendance, a smile comes across their faces. Beginning a new program poses many challenges. Kelley took everything in stride and reminded us to keep looking forward as success is in the journey. She provided valuable input as we collaborated, and is an extremely valuable part of our team.”
Each finalist was asked to tell how he or she makes a difference in the Raymore-Peculiar School District. Kelley said:
“A friend told me that my position should be called the Director of First Impressions. I try to remember that every day - I take the responsibility of this to heart. I am intentional about having a smile on my face when answering the phone or greeting people at the door.
“I believe customer service, making others feel valued, connected, and encouraged, is the most important part of my job.
“I love helping with our students. Several of the students call me “Office Teacher.” I will do everything I can so that everyone - staff, students, and families, feel connected, valued, and a part of our school community.”
Winners with banner: Pictured from left: Kristy Warren, 2017 Support Staff Employee of the Year; Debbie Wescoat, 2007 Support Staff Employee of the Year; Kelley Weida; Superintendent Dr. Kari Monsees; Brett Beneke; Dan Garrison, 2017 Teacher of the Year (hidden behind banner); and Rebecca Gooding, 2010 Teacher of the Year.