HR News Stories

Hope Ragan Honored as Outstanding Elementary String Teacher
Shawnee Mission School District

Hope Ragan is the Outstanding Elementary String Teacher of the Year, as named by the East Central Kansas Music Education Association (ECKMEA). 

Ragan, who has served as the Shawnee Mission South Area elementary and middle school string teacher for seven years, is recognized for her encouragement to students and contributions to the string program.

“We are excited for Hope’s recognition and excited that others have recognized her talent and what she brings to us, Bill Thomas, Shawnee Mission Performing Arts coordinator, shared.

Ragan has contributed to writing elementary string curriculum, directed the South area honor strings group and is known for encouraging all string players.  She has been integral to the entire Shawnee Mission School District elementary instrumental music staff by designing a website to promote all beginning instrumental programs, Thomas noted.

 “Hope is an All-Star string teacher!” Thomas exclaimed. “Congratulations Hope!”

Award winners are nominated by their colleagues for their exceptional teaching and support of music students. KMEA is an organization of music educators in Kansas committed to supporting music educators by fostering leadership, providing professional development, and promoting the advocacy of music learning in schools and communities, according to the KMEA website.

Ragan will be honored at the KMEA In-Service Workshop in the spring.

Horizons winner photo 1
Shawnee Mission School District

The Shawnee Mission School District is home to some of the best new educators in the state. In a surprise announcement, two of these beginning educators learned they are Horizon Award nominees. The Horizon Award recognizes first-year Kansas teachers “who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding.”

This year’s Shawnee Mission honorees are Kira Stahly, a third-grade teacher at Merriam Park Elementary and Kristen Carillo, a special education teacher at Shawnee Mission West High School.

Kira Stahly

Principal Amy Simeonov shared that the overwhelming theme she hears from Stahly’s students is how she works to make learning fun. In Stahly’s classroom, students are often found learning in teams. She also works diligently to make sure every student’s voice is heard.

“They love that about her,” Simeonov said. “Students notice this.”

Prior to her first year of teaching, Stahly was a student-teacher at Merriam Park. Even at that time she was willing to go out of her comfort zone, incorporate advice from cooperating teachers, and demonstrated an excellent ability to maximize instructional minutes.

“Her students are always ready to go and ready for instruction,” Simeonov added.

Stahly also set a wonderful example for students as she spoke in an all-school assembly about her diabetic alert dog, Roxy, Simeonov added. Through Stahly’s teaching, students throughout the school learned about the important role Roxy plays in keeping Stahly safe and healthy as she teaches.

“She has been by my side through it all,” Stahly said about Roxy. “The students are great leaders and are always there to make sure Roxy is also safe and working.”

Kristen Carillo

Kristen Carillo, a special education teacher at Shawnee Mission West, is Shawnee Mission’s Kansas Horizon Award secondary-level nominee. Even though she is new to her role, her abilities are in line with what is usually found in a veteran teacher, Principal Steve Loe shared.

When Carillo works with students, she strikes a balance of helping students when they need it and also having high expectations. She has a strong rapport with students and is very dedicated to helping students obtain resources they need to succeed.

“They see her as an ally,” Steve Loe, principal, shared.

Kansas will eventually select four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers representing each congressional district in the state. Each district is able to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher to be considered for the recognition.


Future SMSD Educators Attend Interview Night
Shawnee Mission School District

Educators had a recent opportunity to explore teaching positions in the Shawnee Mission School District.

Teacher Interview Night brought candidates to the Center for Academic Achievement to learn more about the Shawnee Mission School District and the benefits offered. Attendees also participated in an initial screening interview. The event gave administrators and teachers a great opportunity to interact and Dr. Jeremy Higgins, director of secondary human resources, thanked all who dedicated time to making the event a success. 

“Any time you have the opportunity to connect with someone, it makes the process easier,” Dr. Higgins shared. “We pride ourselves on taking a personal approach and working to build relationships. There’s an excitement that goes along with getting to meet prospective colleagues.”

Educators are encouraged to continue monitoring the human resources website and apply as openings are available. 

The event supported the district Strategic Plan strategy that “we will create the climate to cultivate quality educators so they flourish in pursuit of our mission.”

Shawnee Mission Celebrates Kansas Teacher of the Year Nominees
Shawnee Mission School District

Congratulations to Shawnee Mission’s Kansas Teacher of the Year 2023 nominees: Amy Sachse, 4th grade teacher at Corinth Elementary School, and Wraye Royle, 7th grade math teacher at Indian Hills Middle School.

Nominees will be honored by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) at an upcoming recognition ceremony. The person named Kansas Teacher of the Year is entered in the National Teacher of the Year competition and each nominee is invited to become a part of a Kansas teachers network to share best practices and ideas.

Apply Now- Join the SMSD Team!
Shawnee Mission School District

Would you like to help students in our community achieve their personal best?

You can do that by joining the Shawnee Mission School District team. Click here to apply.

The SMSD is currently seeking individuals for the following positions:


Classroom Aides

Food Service Assistants


These positions offer benefits such as:
School Hours

Paid Holidays

Free Fitness Center

On-Site Health Facility

Health Insurance

Retirement Plan

Paid Sick Leave

Learn more about these positions and how to join the SMSD team here: