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1-27-23 — January 2023 Awards

Jan. 27, 2023

Olathe East Student Named Boys & Girls Club Olathe Unit Youth of the Year

Junior TaVeon Bell Robinson of Olathe East High School has been named the 2023 Olathe Unit Youth of the Year in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year Program.

As the Olathe Unit Youth of the Year, Bell Robinson will serve as a role model, brand ambassador and thought leader on key issues by telling his inspiring personal story at select speaking engagements.

“TaVeon has worked very hard to earn this opportunity,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City — Olathe Unit Director Nick Hart said. “To achieve the title of Youth of the Year on any level, club members have demonstrated that they embody the values of leadership and service, academic excellence, and healthy lifestyles. They exemplify the critical impact that Boys & Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people.”

Participation in BGCA's National Youth of the Year program is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Clubs member can achieve. Bell Robinson will attend the Youth of the Year event on Feb. 7.

Four Olathe Teachers Maintain National Board Certification

Four Olathe Public Schools educators maintained their status as National Board Certified (NBC) teachers. The National Board’s Maintenance of Certification extends their certificate by five years. It is earned by presenting evidence they are maintaining National Board Certification standards in their classrooms.

Prairie Trail Middle School literacy teacher Rachel Kufeldt and Multi-Tier Systems of Support coach Sara Mochel maintained National Board Certification in Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood. Clearwater Creek Elementary School art teacher Sarah Gregory was renewed for her Art/Early and Middle Childhood certificate area, and Olathe Public Schools Science Coordinator Julie Miller maintained certification in Science/Early Adolescence.

Seventeen out of 489 National Board Certified teachers in Kansas are educators in Olathe Public Schools.

Association Bestows Statewide Honor on School Psychologist

Dr. Kailee Potter, school psychologist at Havencroft and Walnut Grove elementary schools, received the Edna L. Harrison Pioneer Award from the Kansas Association of School Psychologists.

The award spotlights outstanding school psychologists who deliver innovative health services and work to meet the needs of students with increasingly more diverse and challenging needs. Among the criteria to receive the award are the number of students affected; positive impact on outcomes for all students, especially at-risk students with diverse needs; and degree of innovation of health service delivery.

“I am extremely honored and humbled by this award and will continue to advocate for other school psychologists to be able to provide whole-child services and experiences,” Potter said.

Potter’s outstanding efforts include starting Molly’s Shop, a free shopping opportunity for any Walnut Grove student who needs clothing, hygienic items, hair care, and more. She also oversees the BackSnack program at Walnut Grove and brings her therapy dog, Molly, to school with her each day.

“I am always pushing for all children to have base needs met in order to better their entire educational experience,” Potter said. “I, with help from the amazing people around me, am always striving to provide children what they need without judgement or question.”

District Earns Proficient Status for Psychological Services

Olathe Public Schools has earned national recognition for the quality of school psychological services provided to students. The district’s school psychological services program received the designation of Proficient Status from the National Association of School Psychologists’ Excellence in School Psychological Services Recognition Program.

The recognition reflects the organizational commitment and hard work of school psychologists who support the learning and mental health needs of all students so they may thrive in school, at home and throughout life. The ESPS designation earned by Olathe Public Schools will be announced during the opening session of the 2023 NASP Convention in Denver, Colo., Feb. 7-10. Proficient Status is effective through Dec. 31, 2027.

“Earning the Proficient Status from NASP is just another example of the impact our school psychologists have on our school system,” said Executive Director of Special Services Anjanette Tolman. “They are trusted as leaders who provide and support the comprehensive services we deliver to Olathe Public Schools students. I am proud to honor the systemwide footprint their work is having on our learners.”

Submissions to the program are thoroughly reviewed by a team of trained reviewers, assessing the application based on five potential recognition categories: no designation, emerging, promising, proficient and exemplary. Proficient Status is awarded to districts showing evidence that school psychologists are providing a broad range of services, and there is a solid foundation and significant progress toward implementing a sustainable, systemwide infrastructure to implement all six organizational principles articulated in the NASP Practice Model.

Students Earn Scholarships, Superior Ratings, Awards at State Thespian Festival

More than 200 Olathe Public Schools students and staff participated in the Kansas Thespians State Thespian Festival held Jan. 8-9 in Wichita. Individual students and groups performed and earned honors at the annual event.

“All five high schools were represented well throughout the festival both in the way our students behaved, and in the awards and honors they brought home,” said Dustin Pence, district high school theater facilitator.

Two Olathe schools performed one-acts at the festival. Olathe North High School performed “#Censored” and Olathe South High School performed “Artistic Inspiration.”

Olathe students among the state thespian officers this year are board chair Ellie Eisele of Olathe East High School and member-at-large Emily Heflin of Olathe West High School. Three Olathe students were elected to the state thespian officers board for next year: Ainslee Magee of Olathe North as vice chair, Isaac Lowe of Olathe West and Noah Hastings of Olathe South as members-at-large.

Each year, students have a chance to compete for a limited number of scholarships given out by Kansas Thespians. This year, Olathe students took home 30% of the scholarships offered — Katie Bauman and Emily Taylor from Olathe North and Ellie Eisele from Olathe East.

In the Thespys (International Thespian excellence awards), Olathe students competed to earn Superior, Excellent, Good or Fair scores in a variety of categories. Olathe students earned 45 Superior ratings, with those students qualifying for the International Thespian Festival this summer at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. A dozen Thespys were given for a perfect score and performed in a Friday night showcase. Four of those were from Olathe — Olathe South’s Tristan Jenkins (solo musical), Olathe West’s Gen Anderson and Kolby Brown (duet musical), Olathe Northwest High School’s M.K. Mullen and Kendall Ficken (duet musical), and Olathe East’s Layla Abu Saada (solo musical).

Olathe students placed in each of the festival-exclusive competitions. Olathe East took first in Creative Costumes and third in Competitive Improv. Olathe North placed second in Speed Charades and third in Theatre Quiz Bowl. Olathe Northwest earned first in Theatre Quiz Bowl and Olathe South took third in Lobby Display. Olathe West placed third in Tech Challenge.

Olathe North, Olathe South, and Olathe West received Gold Honor Troupe Awards.

Olathe Northwest theater director Amy Hastings was named Region 2 Teacher of the Year.