Gardner Edgerton High School Dance Team welcomed teachers, administrators and school employees back for the 2022-2023 school year Monday, August 8 for the 2022 Convocation. Staff photos by Lynne Hermansen
New Superintendent Dr. Brian Huff welcomed 950 district employees Monday, August 9 at Gardner Edgerton High School for the 2022 Convocation.
“There is a lot of excitement,”he said. “I’m thankful after two years to get together all in the same room. It is a nice feeling.”
Dr. Huff was hired as the new superintendent last Spring. He spent the past 15 years serving the Raytown school district and was recognized as the Missouri State High School Principal of the Year in 2013. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Southwest Baptist University, a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Kansas.
School Board members Tom Reddin, Lana Sutton, Greg Chapman and Jeff Miller, Edgerton Mayor Don Roberts and City Manager Beth Linn, State Representative Bill Sutton and State Senators Beverly Gossage and Molly Baumgardner joined staff to celebrate each school and employee in the district and listen to the district’s plans for the year.
“We appreciate the support,”Dr. Huff said. “It’s good to have a partner.”
Edgerton Elementary second grader BreeAnna Ford sang the National Anthem and each school chanted or did a choreographed cheer routine when they were introduced. A few schools brought their mascots.
Tom Reddin, board president, also welcomed returning employees.
“You are talented people who have best interests at heart,”he said.
Reddin said the board continues to plan on being more active throughout the district and “experience the magic firsthand.”
“We are here to assist you anyway we can,”he said. “We are committed to help you to be the best at what you do.”
Reddin said they plan on showing their commitment through building better communication, boosting morale and lending a helping hand.
Ben Boothe, director of community relations, said 124 people in the district had been recognized for their years of service from 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 years.
Connie Horn, Moonlight Elementary, was recognized for 30 years and Larry Ward, Gardner Edgerton High School for 40 years of service.
This year’s theme was Forward as 23ONE, and the high school’s cheerleaders, dance team, band and three student photographers and videographers also attended.
Tim Brady, executive director for Gardner Edgerton Schools Foundation, said it was a wonderful feeling to be back home.
Brady was an 8th grade social studies teacher and resided in Gardner for 40 years.
“There is something special about the start of a school year—a renaissance, fresh start,”he said. “It’s a time to expand. Time to do much more. Raise funds.”
Brady said they hope to be a reliable source over time.
Dr. Huff said they look forward to the foundation being more visible and would like to see it be an outstanding partner by collaboratively working together.
“This is where I want to be, where I want my kids to be,”he said. “This is an amazing place.”
Kelly Newman, Gardner Elementary special educator and teacher of the year, said it was the first time since the pandemic they had a chance to move forward.
“Forward from a time that was just plain hard,”she said.
Newman compared her cruise ship vacation to the school district and said this was their time to “forge forward.”
Nick Proctor, chief warrant officer 3, Trail Ridge Middle School band teacher and secondary teacher of the year, said Gardner Edgerton was a special school district.
“Giving our students our absolute best every single day as we strive to educate the best,”he said.
Proctor said his 27 years of Army Reserve training helped immensely with his civilian career.
“There are unique individuals with different strengths and weaknesses,”he said.
Proctor compared how the Army educational training he received helped in a regular school setting.
“Embrace the cultural values of stakeholders,”he said. “The parents, students and community.”
Hugo Guzman, lead custodian at Trail Ridge Middle School, said his family moved to the United States from Mexico in 1993 when his Dad lost his job. He shared his struggles and journey from 1993 to 2015 to become a U.S. Citizen and said he faced several challenges.
“Middle school was a nightmare,”he said. “But now it is my favorite place.”
Guzman said the U.S. always felt like home to him and he has worked for the district since 2011.
“I’m grateful for my time here,”he said. “The last eight years at Trailridge is where I consider home. My job is extremely motivating and rewarding. The best part is being around the kids. They make me feel young.”
Guzman said it warms his heart as the students greet him as Mr. Hugo. They had all become family and it was humbling but nice to receive an award.
“Take note of the good things we do for one another,”he said. “Remember why you are here. It’s the kids and nothing else.”
Payton and Tyson Adrian, siblings and Gardner Edgerton freshmen, presented a Top 10 list of what makes school so special. The list counted down from 10 to 1 with the number one reason being “All of You.”
“You guys are what make the school district,”they said. “Thank you for what you do. The work you do every day matters.”
Dr. Huff concluded remarks. He said it was an honor for him to serve as the new Superintendent and he took it very seriously and hoped to live up to expectations.
“We have a lot of work to do,”he said. “Passions, safety and special needs. We want to educate all of our kids. We want to deliver the best education possible to everyone.”
Dr. Huff said they want to develop goals together as a district.
“The community is growing and wants to be listened to and treated with respect. They want to feel valued,”he said. “Every decision is made with students success in mind. Students are why we are here.”
Dr. Huff said it was important everything they do is for the kids.
“What’s important to all of us is our family,”he said. “The student has a family that loves and cares about them very much. You are an incredibly influential group of people. You matter. You make a difference. Build accomplishments together. Let’s make it the best year yet. Move forward together.”