The Ray-Pec Public School Foundation has received a donation in memory of Mary Ann Theiss, a longtime teacher who passed away in 2021. Her career in education included 34 years in the Ray-Pec School District.

This generous gift from Floyd Theiss, her husband, honors her passion and commitment as a lifelong educator. The donation is being used to create a scholarship in her memory for a senior who wants to become an educator. (See information below.)

“This amazing gift provides an opportunity to support Ray-Pec students and the profession of education, to which Mrs. Theiss devoted her life,” said Jodie Huston, Executive Director of the Raymore-Peculiar Public School Foundation. “We are grateful for the Theiss family’s desire to support the Foundation with this donation. The passion for education exhibited by Mrs. Theiss will continue on by making a difference to future educators.”

The Mary Ann Theiss Future Educator Scholarship

The Mary Ann Theiss Future Educator Scholarship will have a value of up to $5,000.

The funds will be awarded as follows:

  • $1,000 for the freshman year of studies;

  • $1,000 for the sophomore year;

  • $1,000 for the junior year;

  • $1,000 for the senior year; and

  • $1,000 for the semester of student teaching.

Raymore-Peculiar High School seniors who plan to attend college to major in education may apply. The deadline is May 1.

For more information on scholarship requirements, or to apply, go here

Mrs. Theiss made lasting impact as a teacher

Many area residents have memories of Mrs. Theiss as a teacher or co-worker.

Longtime Ray-Pec teacher and administrator Linda Bass said this: “Mrs. Theiss was my American History teacher in either 8th or 9th grade. American History stories were some of my favorite things to read as early as 3rd grade, so I enjoyed her class. She was firm but fair and always expected students to put forth their best effort. Her class was one of the influences on my decision to major in social studies in college.”

Ray-Pec High School Spanish Teacher Heidi Lanksbury said: “I had Mrs. Theiss for American History in 8th grade in the mid 1980s. I remember her vividly as she is one of the reasons I wanted to be a teacher AND the #1 teacher to get me interested in history. She really went out of her way to teach history like a story. You could tell she loved the subject and she loved her students. Her classroom felt welcoming and was one of the classes that really made a difference for me as a young girl.” 

Mary Ann (Smith) Theiss was born in 1929 in Belton. She grew up in Harrisonville and graduated from high school in 1946. At one point, her father, G.J. Smith, served as Superintendent of the Raymore School District. Mary Ann earned an education degree from Central Missouri State College (now the University of Central Missouri) in Warrensburg. While at college, she met Floyd Theiss, and they learned they had been delivered by the same doctor. After graduating in 1950, they were married. For the first few years of their marriage, they lived in Grandview. She spent the remainder of her life with her husband on the family farm east of Greenwood, where they raised five children.

She began her career in 1950 teaching one semester in Freeman, Mo. A scrapbook about her career shows a copy of her first teacher’s contract. She was paid $267 per month. (See photo above.) She also taught one semester of eighth grade in 1951 in Grandview. She stayed home from 1952 to 1958.

Mrs. Theiss joined the Raymore School District in 1958, where she taught high school students from 1958 to 1960. The Raymore and Peculiar school districts then consolidated, and she taught from 1961 to 1992 for the Raymore-Peculiar School District. She retired in 1992 from Ray-Pec Middle School.

She first taught high school students bookkeeping, shorthand, typing, and business law. Starting in 1970, she taught middle school students American History and was the yearbook advisor. Mementos from her education career include handwritten notes from students, parents, and co-workers.

Mrs. Theiss passed away on Oct. 2, 2021, at the age of 92.