Congratulations to 2023 Teacher of the Year Brandon Ransom and Support Staff Employee of the Year Yajaira Reed Tellez! The announcement of both awards was made during a program and reception on April 13. Read the program from the event.
Ransom teaches American history at Ray-Pec High School. Reed Tellez is a teacher associate for English Language Learner students.
As winners, Ransom and Reed Tellez each receive a $500 cash award from the Ray-Pec Public School Foundation, a desk award, and banners for their school. Their photos will be displayed at the Administrative Services Center. In addition, Ransom will receive a Teacher of the Year ring from Balfour and will be the District’s nominee for Missouri Teacher of the Year. Ransom, Reed Tellez, and all of the finalists will receive a plaque and items donated by local businesses.
Brandon Ransom is 2023 Teacher of the Year
Ransom teaches American history at Ray-Pec High School. He has been teaching history at Ray-Pec for his entire education career of 21 years.
Ransom graduated from Ray-Pec High School in 1997. He received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and history from Avila University. He received a master’s degree and education specialist’s degree from William Woods University. Both degrees were in educational administration.
Ransom was also a finalist for Ray-Pec Teacher of the Year in 2006 and 2017. He was the varsity assistant baseball coach for 20 years, and has been a softball assistant coach the past two seasons. The Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association named him the varsity assistant coach of the year in 2022.
Ransom and his wife of 20 years, Carma, have two daughters, Gracie, a 9th grader at Ray-Pec High School, and Carlie, a 6th grader at East Middle School. Ransom said his favoriate hobby is coaching his daughter’s club softball team, RP Storm.
He was nominated by a parent, Michelle Houston, who wrote:
“Below are a collection of things that I or my son have observed that prompted us to make this nomination:
Mr. Ransom deserves to be nominated because of his effective teaching style.
He is well prepared daily - like clockwork, he creates assignments each morning in Canvas.
He grades assignments and gives feedback in a timely manner.
He is very well versed in the subject matter.
He teaches history objectively from all perspectives, so that students can form their own thoughts.
His loud teaching style keeps students engaged and in control.
He teaches a topic until he is sure that the class is following or understanding. He engages with students and calls upon them to verify their understanding.
He cares about the students. An example - He has taken time out of his day to talk to my student about his future and help him with his course selections.
He wants to be effective in the classroom, and takes the time to research how to be effective. An example would be when he shared with the class that research showed that an effective way to give a presentation was to talk from the back of a classroom while a visual presentation was being given at the front of the classroom.”
Why Ransom became a teacher
“I became a teacher because of Ray-Pec. I had a wonderful experience going to this district K-12 grades. There were so many teachers that positively impact my life. This place left such an impression on me. I always wanted to come back and help the next generation experience the positivity that I did. I think Ray-Pec called me more so than the actual field of teaching itself. I don’t think I would have the same passion and same feelings I have for my job if it were somewhere else. Teaching in the community that I call home is the experience of a lifetime.”
From Principal Steven Miller
“He constantly challenges his students to take accountability for their own actions, and he diligently works to connect with his students on a person level so as to provide an optimal learning environment that supports both their emotional and educational growth.
“When visiting Mr. Ransom’s classroom, the passion and dedication that he has for his craft and for his students become immediately obvious. He creates a welcoming and inviting environment, and it is readily evident that he understands the complexities and struggles that high school students face on a daily basis. As such, he never attempts to make the content more important than the person.”
From the judges
Each finalist for Teacher of the Year had interviews with three judges: Mickie Plummer-Shepheard, Communications Specialist, Belton School District; Sandy Clutter, retired Assistant Superintendent, Belton School District; and Jane Hicklin, retired band teacher, multiple school districts.
In selecting Ransom as Teacher of the Year, the judges noted his passion for teaching and his emphasis on forming relationships with students. He told that judges that students try harder when they are valued as a person, and that he doesn’t encounter many discipline issues in his classroom because he he gets to know the students. He loves the “aha” moments when struggling students show understanding. He said it is important to be consistent, confident, and prepared and to command the room; the judges said they could tell that his teaching style was captivating. He also said that having a child with special needs has helped him learn to be more patient as he teaches students of all abilities.
Yajaira Reed Tellez is 2023 Support Staff Employee of the Year
Reed Tellez is the Teacher Associate in the English Language Learner program at Creekmoor Elementary. She also serves as a Spanish translator for the District. This is her second year in the District.
She has a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in justice studies from Arizona State University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She is currently working toward her Missouri Teaching certification.
In February 2022, she became a U.S. citizen, and the students and staff at Creekmoor Elementary School celebrated the achievement.
Her husband, Mark, works for the City of Raymore in the Human Resources Department. Her two sons attend Ray-Pec schools.
Reed Tellez was nominated by Teachers Sarah Hanf and Andrea Mitsdarffer.
Hanf is the English Language Learner Teacher for elementary school students in the District. She wrote: “Yajaira came to the United States when she was in middle school, so she has been able to use her personal reflections and understanding to provide positive experiences for our ELL students in the classroom. She provides insight for me to understand how our students may be thinking and feeling when they arrive in our country as new immigrants.”
Mitsdarffer wrote: “The smiles on the kids’ faces when she walks into the room are so contagious, and their body language changes every time they see her. I can see the safety and care that every one of the students she works with feels. Creekmoor Elementary and the ELL program are so lucky to have such a hard-working, kind, and smart teacher to grow and learn from”
How she makes a difference:
“I believe that I make a difference in the Ray-Pec School District by providing support for all ELL students. Even if I don’t speak all the languages that our students speak, I am there for them when they are struggling, when they are scared to ask to go to the bathroom, when they want to buy a snack in the cafeteria, or when they just need emotional support. I know from experience how it feels to be an ELL student. My hope is that by providing my support, ELL students are able to have an easier and smoother transition to the school setting.”
From Creekmoor Principal Ashley Tegenkamp:
"Within days of joining our team, Yajaira was making an impact. As someone who learned the English language as a student herself, she has the unique ability to put herself in the shoes of our EL families. Yajaira has created a connection with our families that helps them to feel safe and comfortable in a space that is oftentimes new and unfamiliar. Yajaira has developed a trust with our parents that helps to ensure communication is not a barrier to the learning, and ultimate success, of our students.”
From the judges
Each finalist for the Support Staff Employee of the Year award had an interview with two judges: Lucas Terando, District Manager for First Student, Inc., and Dr. Wayne Burke, Deputy Superintendent of the Pleasant Hill School District.
The judges were impressed with all of the finalists. They said they all have a heart for students and love their jobs and the direction in which the District is headed. The judges noted their professionalism and enthusiasm.
In selecting Reed Tellez, they said that she answered with purpose and that she “knew her why.” She told the judges about the importance of education and how she can help students and parents have an easier and smoother transitions to the school setting.
Yajaira said she believes that education is “the greatest equalizer in our society.”