Four Lee’s Summit R-7 staff members were among 12 local citizens receiving Reflections of Character Awards at the Jan. 23 Lee’s Summit Mayor’s Character Breakfast. The awards are presented to community members who are nominated based on character traits.
R-7 employees (pictured above) winning the award are Officer Bobby Conard, a school resource officer at Lee’s Summit West High School for responsibility; Tom Merrell, a teacher at Pleasant Lea Middle School for respect; Jackie Robertson, a teacher at Highland Park Elementary for appreciation; and Rudy Rhodes, an R-7 bus driver for kindness.
Conard serves as the LSWHS SRO and is also an assistant varsity girls’softball coach at the school. He was honored for providing assistance at the scene of an accident involving students and then immediately traveling to a softball game to coach the team. In spite of witnessing a serious accident involving students, he maintained his professionalism throughout the game. Conard was praised for his passion for working with youth and responsible behavior.
Merrell teaches social studies at Pleasant Lea Middle School and was honored for his dedication to enlightening his students about the world around them. Over the past three years, he worked with his seventh-grade team to raise money for the Invisible Children non-profit organization, which works to help child soldiers in Africa. Approximately $3,600 was raised for this organization through Mr. Merrell’s annual bike rides. Over the past three years, he rode close to 400 miles to motivate students and help others.
Robertson teaches kindergarten at Highland Park Elementary and was recognized for the support and kindness she showed a student following surgery on both of the student’s feet. Robertson went above and beyond, encouraging classmates to send get-well cards, contacting the student following surgery and arranging for his fellow students to become “wheelchair driver’s license certified” so they could assist the recovering student at school. She provided motivation and support throughout his recovery and worked closely with the student’s parents.
Rhodes is a bus driver for students at Lee’s Summit High School, Prairie View Elementary and Woodland Elementary. He was recognized for cooperation. Working closely with staff members at Prairie View Elementary, Rhodes organized his fellow bus drivers to initiate the Book Buddies program during fall 2012. Through the program, bus drivers donate many hours during the school year to help children improve their reading skills. Mr. Rhodes also volunteers to work at the Lee’s Summit Oktoberfest to promote school bus safety and provides the voice for Buster the Bus.
In addition, Robert “Bud” and Betty Hertzog received the Reflections of Character Lifetime Achievement Award. Hertzog is a former R-7 Board of Education member. Both Betty and Bud are long-time school district volunteers and advocates. Retired R-7 staff member Kim Fritchie was recognized with the Reflections of Character Award for citizenship.