News Flash

Latest News

Posted on: October 1, 2019

Karla Penechar named Outstanding Theatre Teacher of the Year

IMG_8507 cropped

Her students’ work is viewed by thousands each year and has been recognized and honored repeatedly in the metro area and at state and national competitions. But this teacher and coach remains mostly behind the scenes. Karla Penechar, who teaches technical theatre and coaches debate at Ray-Pec High School, is now in the spotlight after she was recently announced as the 2019 Wayne Brown Outstanding Speech and Theatre Teacher for Missouri.

The award, which includes a plaque and $250, was presented by the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri (STAM) at its conference Sept. 19-21 at Lake of the Ozarks.

Penechar was nominated for the award by Todd Schnake, who teaches theatre and coaches forensics at Ray-Pec High School; Matt Good, debate coach at Lee's Summit West High School; and Don Johnson, theatre teacher at Liberty High School.

Schnake said he first met Karla 20 years ago when they worked together on a production of ‘Anything Goes’ with Central Missouri Rep.

In his nomination letter, he said “I found her to be a committed theatre artist and enjoyed working with her greatly. Less than a month later, we had a tech theatre/debate position available. Mike Beahm (now-retired teacher from RPHS) and I immediately began recruiting Karla to join us at Ray-Pec,” he said.

Schnake said he thinks she is incredibly talented as a set designer and technical director.

"And I'm not the only one,” he said. “Productions such as ‘Crazy for You,’ ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie,’ ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ and ‘Into the Woods’ were recognized at the Kansas City Blue Star Awards as the top musical theatre set designs in the greater K.C. area.”

“On several occasions over the years, her work has been on display at the Missouri State Thespian Conference. Her designs for ‘Sylvia,’ ‘The Foreigner,’ and ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ all appeared there and were heralded as impressive feats in technical theatre,” he continued. Yet, as impressive as all those sets were, they are merely indicative of the caliber of work she does on every production.

“Karla's contribution to our field is not limited to her work in the theatre. She has also made herself into a very successful debate coach. After starting off having never seen a competitive debate round, she has grown into a coach who sends debaters to state and nationals."

"Karla Penechar is the kind of educator that we need more of in this business. Her talent, dedication, and care for her students make her an excellent candidate for the Outstanding Teacher Award," Schnake wrote.

2010 Ray-Pec graduate Ron Stephenson said "I would not be the man I am today and the theatre professional that I am without her." Stephenson is now a member of the IATSE Union and head of props for Disney on Ice. IATSE is the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Union. "She helped me find my passion and my path for what I can contribute to this world," he said. "People like Karla are what make education so important."

This is Penechar's 30th year of teaching. She taught 10 years at Kansas City Middle School of the Arts and has been teaching 20 years at Ray-Pec. She received a bachelor in fine arts degree in Technical Theatre from the University of Central Missouri and a Master of Fine Arts in Scenography (Theatre Design) from the University of Kansas. She is from Kansas City, and is a 1981 graduate of Raytown South High School.

STAM includes middle school, high school, and university level theatre instructors. The Ray-Pec School District is one of only a handful of schools to have two current instructors receive this award. Todd Schnake, who teaches theatre and coaches forensics at Ray-Pec High School, received the award in 2007. Pam Schnake, who retired last spring after teaching middle school theatre for Ray-Pec, received the award in 2012.

(In the photo, Karla Penechar works with students Blake Oser and Lillith Monroe on the set of "Lost in Yonkers.")

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Latest News

important announcement

Three students test positive for COVID-19

Posted on: September 25, 2020
Football on 091820

Watch Sept. 25 football game online

Posted on: September 25, 2020

Ray-Pec conducts community survey

Posted on: September 18, 2020
Wanted substitute teachers

Another way to become a substitute teacher

Posted on: September 21, 2020
2nd Gr LEAP at Creekmoor 2

Second graders learn coding with Ozobots

Posted on: September 21, 2020
Superintendent Dr. Mike Slage at EG car rider line

Good morning, Ray-Pec families!

Posted on: September 9, 2020
Board honors IB diploma grads

Board honors I.B. diploma graduates

Posted on: August 28, 2020
Dr. Slagle at CM first day

First day of school

Posted on: August 26, 2020
Untitled design (2)

Improving air quality in our schools

Posted on: July 31, 2020
Tom Kruse at June BOE meeting

School Board congratulates Tom Kruse

Posted on: June 26, 2020

Board members take oath of office

Posted on: June 12, 2020
IE NQ 2020

Nine from RPHS qualify for NSDA

Posted on: May 5, 2020

School Board to have virtual meeting

Posted on: April 21, 2020
February pic

RPHS honors February Students of the Month

Posted on: February 25, 2020
Ray-Pec cheer at UCA

Ray-Pec cheerleaders compete at nationals

Posted on: February 13, 2020
Toys for Tots group

Student raises funds for Toys for Tots

Posted on: February 13, 2020
Sarah Chellberg at Dec BOE

Board honors Sarah Chellberg

Posted on: January 3, 2020
Deborah Hale

Sympathy notice - Death of RPHS teacher

Posted on: December 19, 2019
December PIc 2

RPHS Students of the Month for December

Posted on: December 12, 2019
Softball team at BOE Nov 2019

School Board honors softball team

Posted on: November 22, 2019

Last week to order RPHS yearbooks

Posted on: November 19, 2019
RP Hailee cheer 2019

Hailee Teeter earns All-State cheer honors

Posted on: November 18, 2019
RP varsity cheer 2019

Ray-Pec Cheerleaders are state champions!

Posted on: November 18, 2019
RP JV cheer 2019

JV cheerleaders win state championship!

Posted on: November 18, 2019

Share your feedback on school calendar

Posted on: November 13, 2019
RPSD STEAM Expo 2019 Flyer

STEAM Expo is tonight!

Posted on: November 12, 2019
Trick or Treat so Tots Can eat

Trick or Treat so Tots Can Eat!

Posted on: November 6, 2019

High School to present "Lost in Yonkers"

Posted on: October 29, 2019
kick at 10182019

Sports updates

Posted on: October 25, 2019
October Pic (2)

RPHS Students of the Month for October

Posted on: October 22, 2019
SOM September 2019

RPEMS recognizes Students of the Month

Posted on: October 21, 2019

2018-2019 RPHS yearbook receives award

Posted on: October 4, 2019
Ruth Johnson Award

Ruth Johnson honored for advocacy work

Posted on: October 2, 2019
2019 Homecoming Queen

Marissa Dick is 2019 Homecoming Queen

Posted on: September 27, 2019