News Post

SMSD JCL Bookmark Contest Winners
Shawnee Mission School District

Friends of Johnson County Library (JCL) announced the winners of their annual Bookmark Competition and five Shawnee Mission students were among the honorees.  The contest accepted more than 250 original illustrations in seven age categories from Preschool to Adult.

The Shawnee Mission School District winners are:
Freya Webster, Mill Creek Elementary School, Kindergarten and Pre-K
Marin Hannaman, Westwood View Elementary School, Grades 1 - 2
Olive Langford, Mill Creek Elementary School, Grades 3 - 4
Annique Gras, Rising Star Elementary School, Grades 5 - 6
Angela Richardson, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Grades 9 – 12

In honor of National Friends of Libraries Week (October 17-23, 2021) Friends of JCL celebrated by presenting the winners of the annual contest to the Library’s Board of Directors and the community. 

“They’re a great way to get creative people of all ages interested in our excellent Library system,” Friends president, Jeanie Botkin, shared in a press release.

Judges included Friends of JCL board members and the Youth Service librarians.  The winning bookmarks will be distributed throughout the year at the 14 branches of the Johnson County Library and at the Friends bookstores and sales, according to a press release.

Dec. 2, 2021 is National Special Education Day
Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District is pleased to join schools across the country observing National Special Education Day! 

The first federal special education law was signed on December 2, 1972. This law, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) made education available to all American children. This recognition day also commemorates progress made in the United States since 1972. 

The SMSD Special Education team serves students from ages 3 to 21. In 2021 the Kansas State Department of Education verified that the SMSD has attained the highest level of achievement in providing services to children and youth with disabilities as outlined in IDEA. 

“We believe in Shawnee Mission that individuals of all abilities and experiences can achieve personal success,” Sherry Dumolien, director of special education expressed “We are so grateful to all educators, students, families, and community members who work in support of continuous progress for every student in SMSD schools. I wish everyone a Happy Special Education Day!” 

New Inside Issue Out Now
Shawnee Mission School District

The Fall 2021 issue of Inside Shawnee Mission School District will soon be in mailboxes across our community.

Readers can also view the newest issue by clicking here.

The issue features student and staff achievements presented by Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard, an update on bond projects moving forward in the district, a look at Read Across SMSD, and much more. The magazine features schools, students and staff across the district and is published by the Shawnee Mission School District.

SMSD Joins in Kansas Reads to Preschoolers
Shawnee Mission School District

Pre-Kindergarten students across the district welcomed special guests who joined a statewide activity to promote reading and early literacy.

Superintendent Dr. Michelle Hubbard and multiple members of the Shawnee Mission School District Leadership Team visited classrooms and read to students as part of the annual Kansas Reads to Preschoolers event. This year’s state book selection, selected by the state librarian Eric Norris and the Kansas Reads to Preschoolers committee, was “Grumpy Bird” by Jeremy Tankard.  

Johnson County Library generously provided each Shawnee Mission School District Pre-K classroom and the Shawnee Mission Early Childhood Education Center (SMECEC) with a copy of the book.

“We were pleased to take part in Kansas Reads to Preschoolers 2021, which helps promote reading to all children from birth through age five,” Leigh Anne Neal, chief of early childhood learning and sustainability shared. “We appreciate the generosity of Johnson County Library for providing our students with the picture book resource and fun reading activity.”

Dr. Hubbard read to students in Julie Clemens’s classroom at Rhein Benninghoven Elementary School. Clemens and her students extended the lesson by exploring related songs, drawing, and creative movement.

“I hope we can continue to foster a love of books and literacy by connecting our young learners to more high quality children’s literature through such programs,” Clemens shared.

Visits from reading guests provided an opportunity to increase overall engagement,Carla Heintz, SMECEC principal noted.

“Reading to young children is one of the best things you can do to support their academic success,” Heintz expressed. “Being read to increases vocabulary and builds print awareness skills by showing how letters form words and how those words communicate meaning. It also builds listening skills, increases attention span, and helps a child’s ability to concentrate — all while sparking curiosity and imagination.”

A special thanks to all Shawnee Mission Kansas Reads to Preschoolers readers:

Dr. Michelle Hubbard, superintendent, who read in Julie Clemens’s pre-K classroom at Rhein Benninghoven

Dr. Joe Gilhaus, deputy superintendent, who read in Jamie Froman’s pre-K classroom at Merriam Park

David Stubblefield, associate superintendent of leadership and learning, who read in Amber Pagan’s pre-K classroom at Nieman and Stephanie Weiss Flanders’s classroom at SMECEC

David A. Smith, chief communications officer, who read in Kari Schwartz’s classroom at Crestview

Dr. Michael Schumacher, associate superintendent of human resources, who read in Emily Rundle’s classroom at SMECEC

Dr. Darren Dennis, chief academic officer, who read in Katie Luschen’s classroom at Trailwood

Find out more about Pre-K in the Shawnee Mission School District here:

Student Entrepreneurs Open Storefront at Oak Park Mall
Shawnee Mission School District

Students from Shawnee Mission West have started real businesses. Through a unique and innovative partnership with Oak Park Mall, student owned businesses will be on display in the very first virtual storefront now open for shoppers. 

“Supporting student entrepreneurs and education is important and we are committed to this partnership,” shared Karla Engel, senior general manager for Oak Park Mall. Recently, Engel provided SM West’s student entrepreneurs with information on merchandising, marketing, and growing their startup.

Many students have designed and created online businesses that include clothing, accessories, and home decor. Others are working on raising money through crowdfunding platforms to cover expenses for starting their business.

“The support of Oak Park Mall further elevates students’ access to real world learning experiences,” Tiffany Dixon, Shawnee Mission West business teacher noted. “Just imagine the impact on our local economy if more traditional classwork helped young people start real businesses during the school day. These entrepreneurial experiences will help our students make even better college and career decisions after high school.”

“I am hoping many of our Shawnee Mission community members and alumni will do their holiday shopping with student owned stores and make donations to support new student owned businesses,” Dixon added.

The mall storefront will feature student-owned brands and student entrepreneurs seeking startup funding. The storefront uses QR codes to link to a classroom website that connects shoppers and donors to individual student owned businesses. 

“I am a bit nervous, but overall excited!” Kimi Capule, Shawnee Mission West sophomore shared.

Every dollar given by the community takes a student entrepreneur one step further on the path toward reaching their real business goals. To support these student-owned businesses, visit

The partnership between the school district and Oak Park Mall will continue through the spring semester.