Turner Elementary teacher honored as Sporting Samaritan for May

Longtime Sporting KC player Matt Besler congratulated Maddy Shackelford on being named the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan for May. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

First-year Turner Elementary kindergarten teacher Maddy Shackelford suspected something was up. Principal Tara Hudson had called her out of class to give her a Teacher Appreciation Week T-shirt, but the principal was “acting a little weird.”

The secret was revealed when she got back to her classroom to a big shout of “Surprise!” from her enthusiastic students, and longtime Sporting KC great Matt Besler announced her as the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan for May.

Besler spent time with the very inquisitive class, reading two story books, answering questions from the students and personally autographing a card for each child.

A father of two, Besler deftly handled the question of why the letters fell from the tree in “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” a story he’s read to his own kids. He also got a big response from the kindergartners when he told them he started playing soccer at age 5. “I’m 5!” many of them said in unison.

Shackelford received a record 10 nominations for the Sporting Samaritan award, many from colleagues inspired by the passion for teaching she showed in a recent speech she gave to the Turner Elementary faculty.

Even though she’s a new teacher, she handled her class like a seasoned professional, getting the students to focus and work together despite the unusual events of the day. Shackelford credited her peers and mentors for helping her to learn so quickly.

Education runs in Shackelford’s family. Her father Rob, now an elementary school principal in the Shawnee Mission district, previously taught at the Turner Sixth Grade Academy. Her mother Tammy is a first-grade teacher at Lenexa’s Sunflower Elementary.

Hudson said she felt like Shackelford was meant to be in her new role. She requested Turner Elementary for her student teaching because of her father’s love for the Turner community and schools. The school “fell in love” with their student teacher, and when a full-time kindergarten position came open for the 2021-2022 school year, she was a natural fit for the job.

Hudson also credited Shackelford’s positive attitude while taking on the challenges of a slightly larger than normal class size and some students who are not native English speakers.

After meeting the class, Besler compared Shackelford to his first teacher, Mrs. Miller at Stanley Elementary.

“She made it fun for us, and she did a great job organizing the classroom. I can see a lot of her in Maddy,” Besler said.

The Blue KC Sporting Samaritan program is a partnership between Blue KC and Sporting Kansas City that recognizes the contributions to the community of students and teachers each month through the soccer season. Nominations can be made at www.sportingkc.com/blue-kc/.

Shackelford will be recognized on the field at Children’s Mercy Park before Sporting KC’s match against the Colorado Rapids on May 18, coincidentally the last day for students in the classroom at Turner Elementary. Shackelford’s fellow teachers are planning to be on hand at the game to cheer her on.

First-year Turner Elementary kindergarten teacher Maddy Shackelford got a big surprise when she opened her classroom door. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Matt Besler read “Pete the Cat” and “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” to the class. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Maddy Shackelford and her kindergarten class posed with longtime Sporting KC player Matt Besler. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
One of Maddy Shackelford’s students showed off her autographed card. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)
Maddy Shackelford chatted with her students while Matt Besler signed autographs for them. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

$1.5 million awarded for internet access for students in the 3rd District

Funding awarded to five local schools or districts through the American Rescue Plan

Five school districts in the 3rd Congressional District will receive a grant from the Federal Communication Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund program to help students access the internet while attending school from home, according to U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist.

The $1.5 million in federal funding, part of the American Rescue Plan, will help cover costs of laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connectivity purchases for students and school staff, according to a spokesman.

The five schools or school districts in the 3rd Congressional District receiving funding include:

• Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School in Kansas City, Kansas: $7,971
• Kansas City, Kansas, Unified School District 500: $846,640
• Olathe Unified School District 233: $155,136
• Piper Unified School District 203: $261,293
• Turner Unified School District 202: $240,000

Rep. Davids, vice chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, stated that 173,000 Kansans lack home broadband service and 307,000 don’t have access to reliable internet. In total, Kansas will receive $27,055,209 to help close that digital divide through the ECF program. Rep. Davids was the only member of the Kansas delegation to vote for the American Rescue Plan.

Last summer, Rep. Davids asked schools and libraries to apply for funding from the ECF program.

“Over the past two years, I have heard from many Kansas parents and teachers about children struggling in school due to unreliable or unavailable internet access,” Rep. Davids said. “As our community continues to rebound from the pandemic, and as technology becomes increasingly important to education, we must ensure every student has the tools to succeed. I am proud to have voted for the American Rescue Plan and will continue advocating for our schools and our students.”

“Technology and internet access has become increasingly important in our everyday lives. Lack of high-speed Internet access can negatively impact so many areas of our lives – economic growth, household income, educational performance, healthcare access and employment opportunities. As such, having access to high-speed, reliable internet is key for our students’ success” said Dr. Anna Stubblefield, superintendent for Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. “The digital divide affects children’s education in ways that extend far beyond the classroom experience. Our students and families are grateful for the additional funding to help ensure they have access to technological devices and internet connectivity that keep them engaged and connected in and out the classroom.”

“The pandemic and subsequent onset of remote learning brought to the forefront what an important and powerful tool up-to-date technology is in the education of our students,” said Dr. Jessica Dain, superintendent of Piper USD 203. “Maintaining the technology needed for our students comes with a large price tag which makes staying up-to-date a financial challenge for a district of our size. We are appreciative of the financial support to ensure that our students have the resources they need to be successful in the classroom.”

“During the pandemic, teachers worked tirelessly to bring outstanding instruction into the home of each child. Providing high-quality devices to each student was a necessary step to ensure that all children had access to the content created by their teachers,” said Dr. Jason Dandoy, superintendent of Turner Unified School District 202. “Going forward, many of these classroom resources will continue to be used to intervene and enrich the educational experiences of our students. Funds provided through the FCC ECF program will allow children to continue to take learning home as a supplement to the brick-and-mortar classroom environment.”

Rep. Davids has been a strong advocate for schools and students during the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting El Centro Academy for Children and Johnson County Community College to highlight American Rescue Plan support. This support included:

• Voting to send $831 million to Kansas schools to help keep schools open safely, keep teachers on payroll, and support students through the pandemic;
• Allocating $325 million for Kansas Higher Education institutions, at least half of which must be distributed to students in the form of emergency grants to prevent hunger, homelessness, and other hardships caused by COVID-19;
• Providing $349 million in supplemental funding for child care in Kansas to help child care providers keep their doors open and reduce costs for struggling families;
• Distributing $8 million in emergency funding for Kansas Head Start to maintain access to services for children and families.

Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools district plans to use this federal funding to purchase 150 MacBook Airs and 200 Wi-Fi Hotspots for school buses.

Speedy Pirates sweep Bobcat Relays

Grant Lockwood, Divante Herrig-Brittian and LaMar Lynch took the top three places in the boys’ 200-meter dash at the Bobcat Relays at Basehor-Linwood High School. Herrig-Brittian won the event with a time of 22.70 seconds. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)

by Brian Turrel

The Piper High School track and field won both the boys’ and girls’ team competitions at the Bobcat Relays, held at Basehor-Linwood High School on Friday afternoon.

Bonner Springs, Turner and Washington high schools were also among the 10 schools competing in the meet.

The Piper boys won with 210 points, outpacing the hosts, who scored 148.5. The Pirates dominated the sprints, winning the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter dashes, and even sweeping the top three places in the 200- and 400-meter events.

Piper’s boys’ relay teams took first place in the 4×100-, 4×400-, and 4×800-meter relays. The 4×100-meter relay team (Dominique Herrig-Brittian, Grant Lockwood, LaMar Lynch and Divante Herrig-Brittian) set a school record at 42.36 seconds.

The competition among the girls’ teams was closer. The Lady Pirates scored 160 points, edging out the Lady Bobcats’ 145.5. Grace Hanson won both the 800- and 1600-meter runs, well outpacing the field in both.

Pole vaulter Kaitlin Lindstrom successfully completed a personal-record vault of 11-feet, 6-inches — three feet higher than the second place finisher and the highest mark in the state this year.

Piper’s other individual event winners were LaMar Lynch in boys’ long jump, TyJanae Hooks in girls’ shot put, and Genevieve Kulas in girls’ 100-meter hurdles. The girls’ 4×400-meter relay team also took first place.

Bonner Springs finished fourth in the boys’ competition and fifth in the girls’. Last years’ 5A state discus champion Mariyah Noel won the girls’ discus throw in Basehor and was also on the winning 4×100-meter relay team. Cooper McWilliams won the boys’ high jump, and Jenna Knight won the girls’ 300-meter hurdles.

Washington finished eighth in the girls’ standings and 10th in the boys’. Turner finished eighth in the boys’ team competition.

No one was close to catching up with Piper junior Grace Hanson in the girls’ 1600-meter run. Hanson won the race with a time of 5:38.75, over 40 seconds ahead of the second place runner. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Piper senior Grant Lockwood ran in the boys’ 400-meter dash. Lockwood won the event with a time of 51.88 seconds. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Piper hurdlers Sophia Derks, Genevieve Kulas and Malia Martin raced in the girls’ 100-meter hurdles. Kulas, center, won the race with a time of 18.90 seconds. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Piper sophomore LaMar Lynch won the boys’ long jump with a distance of 21 feet. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Piper junior Deanna Jones competed in the girls’ high jump. Jones placed fifth with a height of 4-feet, 4-inches. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Bonner Springs junior Mariyah Noel threw in the girls’ discus event. Noel placed first with a distance of 111-feet, 10-inches. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Bonner Springs’ girls’ 4×100-meter relay team (Carly Conrad, Stasia Sambol, Mariyah Noel, Jenna Knight) posed together after their winning run with a time of 53.85 seconds. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Bonner Springs senior Cooper McWilliams ran the first leg of the boys’ 4×100-meter relay. McWilliams also placed first in the high jump, clearing 6-feet, 0-inches. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Bonner Springs sophomore Caden Campbell tried to hold off Basehor’s Marc Farris for the win in the boys’ 1600-meter run, but Farris edged past him at the line by 4-hundredths of a second. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Bonner Springs senior Alex Amayo jumped in the boys’ long jump. Amayo took fourth place with a distance of 19-feet, 8.5-inches.


Washington freshman Makayla Henry competed in the girls’ long jump. Henry placed fifth with a distance of 14-feet, 8.5-inches. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Washington junior Chaddrick Jones rounded the first corner in the boys’ 400-meter dash. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Washington freshman Paulina Mercado Amado held off Maranatha’s Jessie Alexander for seventh place in the girls’ 1600-meter run with a time of 7:20.84. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)


Turner junior Peyton Waldo took 6th place in the boys’ shot put with a throw of 39-feet, 11.75-inches. He also placed 5th in the discus throw. (Photo copyright 2022 by Brian Turrel)