Stansberry stood for leadership

rpulley@lsjournal.comMay 3, 2013 

Former school and city leaders get their names slapped on roads and buildings.

But when the Lee’s Summit R-7 School Board named the district’s central office building on Tudor Road it made a very specific choice to note what it’s namesake meant to this community.

The Tony L. Stansberry Leadership Center at 301 NE Tudor Road is named after the superintendent of schools serving from 1996 to 2006.

Patti Buie and Jack Wiley, two school board members who worked with Stansberry, said calling the administration building a leadership center wasn’t just symbolic.

It was picked because it evokes the mark Stansberry left on the district. A focus of his administration was developing leadership at all levels and for continuous improvement.

“He modeled that and expected it of his staff,” Buie said.

“I was really impressed with his gentle leadership,” Buie said. “He believed in a collaborative process... making certain people who are going to be affected by a decision have a voice in that decision.”

Stansberry’s career included being school superintendent in Grandview, Colorado Springs, Co. and the Basehor-Linwood District in Kansas. He also is a retired U.S. Army brigadier general serving 32 years in the military.

Lee’s Summit schools had exceptional enrollment growth during those years and losses in state funding.

During his administration voters approved five bond issues to build eight schools: Cedar Creek, Hawthorn Hill, Highland Park, Longview Farm, and Woodland elementary schools, Summit Lakes Middle School, Lee’s Summit West High School, Summit Ridge Academy and, Summit Technology Academy and Great Beginnings Early Education Center.

He used partnerships with local developer David Gale to help finance Longview Farm Elementary and with local businesses for construction or facility costs for Summit Technology Academy and the R-7 Transportation Center and raised charitable donations for the early childhood center, saving the district close to $10 million for the four facilities.

He also oversaw major additions to existing schools.

Voters also passed two levy increases to offset state revenue loss.

Wiley said Stansberry is a people-oriented person and very affable.

Stansberry was always able to find the positive in a situation, Wiley said.

“He’d shave away and find the diamond in the middle of it,” he said.

Wiley said he thought Stansberry’s influence continued on the district, with the superintendent, school board and others working as a team with mutual respect.

Wiley said the district strives to follow one of Stansberry’s tenants: “Tough on issues but soft on people.”

Wiley said Stansberry was a great family man, always talking about his grandchildren.

After retiring Stansberry moved out of Lee’s Summit to be closer to those children. But he kept his ties to education.

He’s working for Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and occasionally crosses paths with old Lee’s Summit friends, Wiley said.

Stansberry is a people-oriented person and very affable, he said, and humble when the district chose the name.

“He was very surprised, very honored when we made that announcement, he was just floored,” Wiley said.

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