2017 Teacher/Support Staff Employee of the Year

Two winners with banners cropped try
Kristy Warren, Focus Facilitator at Raymore Elementary School, is the 2017 Support Staff Employee of the Year, and Dan Garrison, 8th grade social studies teacher at Raymore-Peculiar East Middle School, is the 2017 Teacher of the Year.

The announcement of both awards came during the April 6 dinner to honor the finalists.

Garrison has been teaching 18 years in the Ray-Pec School District. This is his first year to teach 8th grade social studies. Previously, he taught at the intermediate school and elementary school levels. Warren has been in her position since October 2012, when she joined the District.

As the winners, Garrison and Warren each received a $500 cash award funded by incite Design Studio and Crossland Construction, an acrylic desk award, and banners for their schools/departments. Their photos will be on display at the Administrative Services Center. They also received gift cards from Price Chopper, HyVee, and Sonic; a Sam’s Club membership, a subscription to The North Cass Herald, and other gifts.

In addition, Garrison receives a Teacher of the Year ring from Balfour, and will be the District’s nominee for Missouri Teacher of the Year. Garrison, Warren, and all of the finalists received a plaque, and a bag with gifts, coupons, and other items donated by local businesses.

Meet the Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Employee of the Year finalists:
Banquet program

Dan Garrison

Teaching was not Dan’s first career, as he joined the Army at age 17 to become a combat medic. Later, he earned a bachelor’s degree in education from CMSU and a master’s degree in teaching from University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kan. He also earned a master’s in History, with a concentration in American History, from American Public University.

Dan has been a nominee for Teacher of the Year many times since 2006. He is a member of the District’s Team Ray-Pec and Professional Development Committee. He is part of his school’s Building Leadership Team, Crisis Intervention Team, and Vertical Team.

Dan Garrison web
Dan Garrison and family web
Dan's wife, Gina Garrison, teaches at Shull Elementary School. Dan loves spending time with family and is also known for his love of music as a member of “The Outtakes” band. He is pictured below with family members who attended the banquet. From left: Dan's father, Dennis; Dan's wife, Gina; Dan's mom, Maggie; Dan; son Justin; son Shea; daughter-in-law Rachel; and daughter in law Anna holding Wolfgang.

He was nominated by five students. Here are some excerpts from their letters:

“Mr. Garrison treats all students like his own and knows that they are ALL his students, not just the ones that he teaches. I read once that a teacher is one who ‘teaches from the soul and not from a textbook,’ and Mr. Garrison shows this completely.”

“He taught me respect, and also to be polite and kind to everyone even if they don’t do the same in return.”

“When it came to American history, me and him were nerds about it. At recess, he would play catch with me just like me and my dad do for baseball. I would bring my glove with a ball, and he would bring his glove, too. At snack time, he would read aloud some of the most scariest stories I have ever heard in my life, and then leave us all on a cliffhanger, which everyone liked and hated at the same time.”

“He showed the class a song about the Constitution, and made us sing it. I can still remember the song word for word!”

Middle School Principal David Mitchell said, “In all honesty, I can’t recall working with anyone in my career that has made such an impact in their first year at a building. Dan brings a unique level of professionalism to the classroom in the way he dresses, interacts with his colleagues, and most notably, how he works with and plans for his students.”

Each finalist was asked why he or she became a teacher. Garrison said:

“I was a young father whose son wanted to play soccer.  I took him for sign-ups and was asked if I would consider coaching. I responded by explaining I knew absolutely nothing about soccer and was met with a reply that caught me off guard. ‘It doesn’t matter, really. Just be there for them.’ I left with my son, stopped at the local library to check out a book on the fundamentals of soccer, and took my first steps to becoming a teacher. I discovered the joy of teaching with those kids, and this idea began to well up inside me to pursue teaching as a career. I also learned an important lesson in that ‘just being there’ for a child can be as much or more important than any content you might hope to convey.”

Kristy Warren

Kristy has more than 15 years of experience in the special education paraprofessional field. She also worked as a paraprofessional from 1997 to 2006 in the Raytown School District.

She and her husband, Thom Warren, have been married for 18 years. They have a son Garrett, 13, in the 7th grade, and a daughter, Kendall, who is 10 and in the 5th grade. In addition to transporting her children to their activities, she enjoys spending time with her family and trying new recipes.

Kristy has organized fundraising events to help support the Children’s Miracle Network and organized a little league cheer squad. She served as a PTA committee co-chair, room parent, and classroom volunteer at Shull Elementary from 2009 to 2012.

Kristy Warren web
Kristy and Thom Warren web
She was nominated by Counselor Jenni Beck, who said, “Kristy has a very difficult job, but one of the most important. She provides hope to students! She always maintains a calming presence and has a tremendous amount of patience in even the most difficult of behavior situations with students. She knows that the students who need the most love sometimes ask for it in the most unloving of ways.”

Raymore Elementary School Principal Jennika Miller said, “The role of the Focus Facilitator can be very exhausting and not always rewarding. Students who are struggling with behaviors in school can make it challenging for those who are working with them. When you work with Kristy Warren, you never see her give up. She goes the extra mile.”

Each Support Staff finalist was asked how he or she makes a difference in the Ray-Pec School District. Warren said, “Everybody deserves to have someone that loves and cares about them and a place they feel safe. I try to be that person. I provide safety and structure, but in a nurturing way. My students know that when they are at school, they are safe, loved, and valued, and nothing they say or do will ever change that.”

About the awards program

The selection process for the Teacher of the Year and Support Staff Employee of the Year began earlier this year with the collection of nomination letters. Teachers had to have completed three years of teaching in the district; and support staff nominees had to have a minimum of one year in the district. There are also requirements for attendance, positive evaluations and recommendations from the principal or supervisor.


Each finalist had an interview with a panel of judges. The judges were:
  • Trish Alexander, retired Lee’s Summit principal
  • Mary Jo LeCluyse, retired Lee’s Summit educator
  • Dan Erholtz, assistant superintendent, Harrisonville School District
  • Jean Gelsinger, retired educator

The judges reviewed resumes and nomination letters, and at the conclusion of the interviews, selected the winners.

2017 Teacher of the Year finalists
Finalists for the Ray-Pec 2017 Teacher of the Year: 
  • Tracy Elliott, Ray-Pec East Middle School
  • Tricia Elmore, Timber Creek Elementary School
  • Dan Garrison, Ray-Pec East Middle School
  • Katie Goodin, Creekmoor Elementary School
  • Amy Greble, Stonegate Elementary School
  • Katie Kiger, Shull Elementary School
  • Angie LaSala, Raymore Elementary School
  • Jennifer Milligan, Timber Creek Elementary
  • Brandon Ransom, Ray-Pec High School
  • Kim Shaul, Eagle Glen Intermediate School

TOY apple

2017 Support Staff finalists

Finalists for 2017 Support Staff Employee of the Year:
  • Tracy Caskey, Peculiar Elementary School
  • Dan Fisher, Bridle Ridge Intermediate School
  • Karla Heinrich, Raymore Elementary School
  • Jeff Helzer, Buildings and Grounds Department
  • Konni Noyes, Raymore Elementary School
  • Linda Portman, Technology Department
  • Cheryl Tipton, Finance Department
  • Kristy Warren, Raymore Elementary School
  • Penny Wilson, Creekmoor Elementary School

Teacher of the Year nominees

Congratulations to these other teachers who were also nominated for Teacher of the Year:

  • Creekmoor Elementary School: Andrea Calkins, Crystal Hawley, Rebecca Howard, Stephanie Linn, Juline Norman, Rebecca Oshel, Kristie Robinson, and Amy Russell.
  • Peculiar Elementary School: Colleen Bennett, Sheri Capper, Megan Jones, Jamie Lecuru, and Alice Redding. (Former Teacher Erin Hillier was also nominated.)
  • Raymore Elementary School: Valerie Collom, Brianna Pennington, Valerie Rapp, Melinda Riker, Theresa Trutzel, and Bethany Woodson.
  • Shull Elementary School: Stacey Barbarick, Cinda Beshore, Gina Garrison, Tiffany Hill, Pam King, Pat Mabary, Abby MacLeod, and Jodi Wooley.
  • Stonegate Elementary School: Mary Besse, Melanie Coleman, Emily Dusselier, Pepper Grimm, Wendy Huffman, Tracy LeRosen, Tobi O’Donnell, Samantha Richardson, and Lydmarie Spruill.
  • Timber Creek Elementary School: Jennifer Halvorson
  • Bridle Ridge Intermediate School: Elizabeth Breier, Tanya Caldwell, Angie Donaldson, Wendy Farley, Connie Huckeby, James Huffman, Tara Kelley, Emily King, Evelyn Peck, Cathy Pittman, Wendell Pritchett, Piper Showen, Brenda Tilawen, Jennifer Vacca, Lezlie Waltz, Greg Watson, and Lauren Way.
  • Eagle Glen Intermediate School: Tresea Brockman, Ashlie Renfro, and Stephen Rew.
  • Ray-Pec East Middle School: Lindsay Carmichael, Carol Holsman, Linda Kiefer, Sherri Miller, Annora Quenzer, and Pam Schnake.
  • Ray-Pec Academy: Stacey O’Connell
  • Raymore-Peculiar High School: Brett Beneke, Joe O’Neal, Lisa Roberts, and Todd Schnake.

Support Staff nominees

Congratulations to these employees who were also nominated for the Support Staff award:
  • Jamie Bogner, Timber Creek Elementary School
  • Carol Brandt, Ray-Pec East Middle School and Ray-Pec High School
  • Dawn Ekstrand, Creekmoor Elementary School
  • Sherrie Goodwin, Raymore Elementary School
  • Brad Hays, Bridle Ridge Intermediate School
  • Karen Moore, Ray-Pec High School
  • Corrie Posey, Stonegate Elementary School
  • Barb Rewald, Timber Creek Elementary School
  • Julie Sinclair, Timber Creek Elementary School
  • Becky Yates, Creekmoor Elementary School

Awards banquet

A banquet to honor finalists in both programs was held April 6 at Ray-Pec High School. The Ray-Pec Public School Foundation plans the awards programs and the banquet. 

For information about sponsoring the banquet in the future or providing prizes or gifts for the finalists or winners, contact Jodie Huston, Executive Director for the Ray-Pec Public School Foundation, at jodie.huston@raypec.org

Nomination letters

The nomination period is closed for 2017.