Blake Little, a history teacher at Lee’s Summit High School, was named Lee’s Summit R-7 School District 2019 Teacher of the Year during a surprise announcement at an April 10 community reception. The reception also recognized 12 LSR7 teachers who had been named Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Excellence In Teaching Award winners earlier this spring.

Excellence In Teaching winners include Kaleigh Bearce, Longview Farm Elementary; Schelly Ethetton, Meadow Lane Elementary; Alyson Fortney, Highland Park Elementary; Jenny Johnson, Sunset Valley Elementary; Ashley Jones, Lee’s Summit West High School; Blake Little, Lee’s Summit High School; Jodi Mahurin, Sunset Valley Elementary; Chris Munce, Lee’s Summit High School; Lisa Oyler, Summit Technology Academy; Kenny Taylor, Bernard Campbell Middle School; Sara Witteman, Lee’s Summit North High School; and Nichole Wood, Summit Ridge Academy.

In addition to the Excellence In Teaching winners, other finalists for Teacher of the Year included former Excellence In Teaching winners who were nominated for the award again this year and selected as Teachers of Distinction. These former winners had the opportunity to interview along with this year’s award recipients for Teacher of the Year and were also recognized April 11. They are Matt Buxton, Lee’s Summit High School; Jonathan Krinke, Lee’s Summit North High School; and Marc Russell, Lee’s Summit High School.

All Excellence In Teaching and Teacher of Distinction recipients are also honored with the Hertzog Leadership Award, funded by Jon and Juli Ellis, to honor Dr. Robert (Bud) Hertzog, local businessman and community leader. In addition, the Teacher of the Year receives a $100 Cathy Paulson Heart to Heart Award. This award is funded by the Loren Paulson family in honor of Cathy Paulson, who passed away in 2010.

The Excellence In Teaching program and reception are sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the LSR7 School District. All students, parents, LSR7 employees and community members are invited to nominate outstanding teachers. The recognized teachers were selected by a committee composed of LSR7 staff and representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the community.

As Teacher of the Year, Mr. Little will go on to participate in the Missouri Teacher of the Year program.

Mr. Little has been a teacher in the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for 17 years. He served as IB Coordinator during his tenure at Lee’s Summit West High School. He currently serves as the president of the Greater Kansas City Basketball Coaches Association. He also serves on the LSR7 CFMP team and has an extensive history of serving on both district and building-level teams for academic integrity and achievement, graduation and curriculum. As a National Honor Society Sponsor both at LSHS and LSWHS, Mr. Little helped students with service projects involving the Community Blood Center, Hope House and the Special Olympics.

Mr. Little’s philosophy for life and education draws from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote that “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

“I have always taken this to mean that if we harness our internal strength, that no past transgressions or future obstacles can prevent us from achieving our own personal success,” Mr. Little said. “In the classroom or on the basketball court, I look at it as my responsibility to help each student realize his/her own personal potential and discover what lies within them. I know that each student faces different obstacles in learning both past and present, but I believe that as a teacher and a coach, it is my job to help them develop the skills to not just overcome but succeed.”

He is the 2015 Daughters of the American Revolution Teacher of the Year, a three-time District Basketball Coach of the Year, a two-time Conference Coach of the Year, the 2016 Kansas City Star Coach of the Year, the 2016 Lambert Award Recipient for KC Metro Coach of the Year, a three-time LSWHS Senior Class Favorite Teacher and a six-time honorary National Honor Society Induction Speaker.

Mr. Little is an LSHS alumnus. He has a Bachelor’s in Middle School and Secondary Social Studies Education from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a Master’s in History from the University of Central Missouri.

“I am both honored and humbled to be selected from such an outstanding group teachers and to have the opportunity to represent the LSR7 School District,” Mr. Little said.