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Joey O'Kelly and Paige Twenter

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Algebra I and II teacher April Shea:

  Algebra I and II teacher April Shea has been teaching at LHS for two years and has discovered new parts of herself during that time. She now loves to stay busy and walk into the classroom everyday knowing that teaching is her purpose in life.

  Shea is planning on staying at home with her baby next year and possibly going back into teaching in a few years. The legacy she plans on leaving with her students is the idea that everybody is capable of doing math.

  “We grow up in a society where math-phobia is extremely common and people are raised to think that because they’re not naturally gifted at math, they are incapable of understanding it. That’s just not true,” Shea said. “I remind my students frequently that when I was in high school, math was my worst subject. The reason was simply because of my mindset. I had convinced myself that I wasn’t intelligent enough to do well in math. I always try to reiterate the fact that being successful in math is all about effort, and if you think you can, you will.”

 

Calculus teacher Lee Leddy:

  Lee Leddy took a major change in his professional life head on and with open eyes. He transitioned from a career as an engineer for 15 years to a high school Calculus teacher. He’s been teaching for 30 years and spent the past six years at LHS. One aspect he loves about his job is applying his prior experience as an engineer to the classroom and leading students to go into a STEM profession.

  Leddy has activated change in the math department through his efforts with fellow staff members.

  “The things that I feel good about during my time at LHS are working with Candy Cole and Sara Langford to help improve the mathematics curriculum,” Leddy said. “Students, after taking Pre-Calculus had few choices the following year. Many went on to AP Calculus, a course they didn’t need in college, so we established a College Algebra course (needed by most college majors) to fill that need. We also worked together to establish dual-credit for all upper level mathematics courses.

  He plans on retirement after finishing up the school year and spending more time at his lake home in Canada with his grandkids.

 

SPED teacher John Barreca:

 Barreca had two major influences that sparked his interest in teaching: his dad, who taught for 32 years and loved interacting with his students and his high school English teacher, who encouraged Barreca to make mistakes and learn from them.

“As a Special Education teacher, I get to meet a lot of students who have a wide variety of challenges in their life,” Barreca said. “I find their ability to stay motivated and positive, despite their challenges, inspirational. It makes you keep things in perspective when you have your own difficulties.”

  He’s been teaching for 10 years and has spent eight years at LHS where he’s learned to adapt and gain a new perspective on life.

  “I’ve grown in many ways,” Barreca said. “I’ve learned strategies for lesson planning, ways to adapt to different personalities and with time I’ve learned to adapt easier and roll with the punches. I’ve had many varied experiences that have made me well rounded and prepared for my new job.”

  Barreca’s next step in life is to teach Special Education at Grandview High School, which is a shorter drive for him.

 

ELL teacher Daisy Myrick:

  Living life culturally, English Language Learners teacher Daisy Myrick is leaving LHS after 11 years to become the ELL program coordinator at the Kansas City International Academy.

  ELL is a program for non-native English speakers to learn the English language. No matter what language or background a student comes from, there has been a place for them in Myrick’s classroom. Starting as a Spanish teacher, Myrick wanted a more immediate impact on students and therefore switched over to teaching ELL.

  “My teaching style has evolved into realizing that no one will learn anything if they don’t feel connected to the person that’s trying to teach it to them,” Myrick said.

  One of the most rewarding feelings, according to Myrick, is watching a student walk across the stage at graduation when that student was struggling just a few years back. Knowing that her teaching helped the student achieve their goals was gratifying.

  Starting with three students in a makeshift broom closet classroom, Myrick has made the ELL program well known to students at LHS and has impacted the lives of each student she has worked with. It’s now time to see what else her career has in store.

 

Counselor Melanie Crawford:

  Constantly searching for that ‘light bulb moment,’ with her clients, counselor Melanie Crawford is taking her 16 year counseling career to a private practice in Gladstone, Missouri. After becoming a licensed therapist a few years ago, this is the next career move for her.

  Crawford spent two years at a non-profit organization in Kansas City, four years counseling at the college-level and 10 years counseling at LHS. In the 10 years at LHS, Crawford witnessed some changes. One of those changes was a the spike in school spirit. However, she’s had some help keeping up with other changes.

  “I always tell my friends that the students here help keep me young, from making sense of new lingo to the latest style trends,” Crawford said. “I may feel a little lost without the student influence.”

  Before having her own son last fall, Crawford considered the students at LHS to be her own children. While it is bittersweet to be leaving her ‘children,’ she now has a child of her own and a new job to venture into.

 

Assistant Principal Gregory Mees:

  While he may not be going far, LHS is saying goodbye to nine year assistant principal Dr. Gregory Mees. Mees is going to Discovery Middle School to become the new head principal. While teaching at Columbia-Hickman, Mees was mentored by two assistant principals. Feeling inspired by them, Mees became an assistant principal shortly after.

  “I love that I get to help students every day,” Mees said. “Sometimes it takes the form of working with a student who needs a little extra support and sometimes it is implementing a school-wide program such as the ACT.”

  As with many teachers, Mees loves the feeling of watching a student he worked with walk across the stage on graduation day and being able to shake their hand afterwards. Working with these students has taught Mees how to work with all students from different backgrounds and how to push them to be successful from their high school careers into adulthood. His next step is to do the same to middle schoolers.

 

PLTW Biomedical Sciences Teacher Tim Block:

  Becoming a teacher of the year and leading the way into retirement PLTW Biomedical Sciences teacher Tim Block is retiring after nine years of teaching at LHS. With his retirement, Block looks forward to spending time with his wife and his grandchildren.

  Block wants to leave the legacy of teaching about “more than just life sciences, but about life.”

  Retiring on a good note, Block recently became the LHS Teacher of the Year.

  “The professionalism of this school’s staff and administration is phenomenal and they elevate my level of professionalism daily by motivating me to be at my best in order to keep up with them,” Block said. “I’m so grateful and honored to be a Blue Jay these last nine years of my career.”

  Leaving with a new level of patience, Block has enjoyed having a role in the growth and development of his students as well as helping them reach their goals. He will definitely miss being a part of the process but looks forward to retirement.

  “I love having a role in their growth and development, teaching them things about life, helping them reach for their dreams and aspirations and if you love them, they’ll love you back,” Block said.

 

Receptionist Sue Vickers:

  Students who drag themselves into school in the mornings can always expect a friendly face to brighten up that day, which belongs to receptionist Sue Vickers. Vickers has been greeting people, answering calls, orchestrating daily newsletters to the faculty and multiple other jobs at LHS for two years.

  Vickers next year will be an Administrative Assistant for Liberty Schools Facilities department and will miss all her co-workers. Her favorite memory at LHS involves an embarrassingly funny mishearing.

  “My favorite memory is the day I was watering the plants in the office and Dr. Mees came up to me and asked if I could water his pants,” Vickers said. “I quickly turned to him and poured water down the leg of his pants. His face? Priceless. While most people would have thought he must have said water his plants, but not me. Water his pants I did. It was so funny!”

  Vicker’s hopes her legacy will be that people will remember her as happy and supportive.

 

Assistant Principal Brett Coffman:

For the past 23 years of his life, Assistant Principal Brett Coffman has been in the education profession, transitioning from private school teacher, to a Raytown Middle School to LHS for the past 11 years.

One aspect Coffman will miss the most from his experience at LHS is the friendships he’s developed with coworkers and students alike. He also enjoys seeing students he’s taught grow into teachers.

Coffman’s next transition in his career is going to Kearney to be an assistant principal at the high school.

“It’s going to open up some avenues for me in becoming a principal,” Coffman said. “Which is ultimately my goal.”

 

ELA teacher Karla Schaeffer:

ELA teacher Karla Schaeffer didn’t always plan to be a teacher, nor did she plan to be in that profession at LHS for 30 years. Despite her father being a college professor and others commenting on her teaching potential, her epiphany involving her future didn’t come right away. It came when she traveled to Europe and became interested in visual art, architecture and the connection of everything.

“Literature, that’s clear, what the stories are,” Schaeffer said. “I’m a musician so I’ve always been interested in music. I love how all the arts are connected together with stories. I just think it’s so cool how those things are interconnected. I like to help kids see those connections. I try to work those arts in to help kids get a fuller understanding.”

Schaeffer also relates her love for playing percussion into her lesson plans to bring outside influences into the classroom and curriculum.

Shaeffer’s only constant in her career is change. She strives to revise every unit she teaches each year and connect with her current students. One of her favorite things to experience is seeing changes in her former students for the better.

She’s sad to be leaving but is ready to face changes in her life with open eyes and an open heart.

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The school news site of Liberty High School
See Ya Later