Lenexa Hills, the new elementary school

Lenexa Hills opened this year, welcoming new staff and students.

Caleb McDairmant, Design Editor

Lenexa families are welcoming the addition of the new elementary school, Lenexa Hills, located off of 87th and Haven street. This addition to the district occurred because of how overcrowded Sunflower Elementary is. With this new building, it gives Sunflower breathing room for expansion following the new housing developments off of Loiret Blvd and 87th street.

“Sunflower was very full, ” principal Michael Brewer said. “We found that in other districts, if we give several schools a reasonable size in student population, kids will have more opportunities for leadership and families have more opportunities for participation.”

With the opening of the new school, some are supportive of the location after speculation of increased traffic along 87th street and in neighborhoods surrounding Lenexa Hills would grow to disturb the rather quiet neighborhood streets.

“Because of how we do our drop off and pick up areas, there hasn’t been as much traffic as we had expected,” Brewer said. “Since then, we’ve had opportunities for parents to come in and tour the school and I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from the parents. Everyone seems to be very excited.”

The school decided to initially take a smaller intake of students, but continues to grow at an increasing rate.

“Right now, with Pre-K, we have about 230 students,” Brewer said. “But we’re growing. We started out with 107 students and since the school has opened we’ve added four more teachers.”

With the addition of the new teachers, Brewer looks for one key ingredient when going through the selection process of choosing the best staff.

“Passion,” Brewer said. “Passion for helping kids. I always say to hire the heart and then train the mind. I look for that teacher that teaching is a calling for them. When you find those people, they can’t help but to do their job to their best ability, because their calling is wanting them to be the best teacher they can be.”

Brewer has no lack of qualifications himself, as this is his sixth school that he has opened, two of the six as the principal. Along with this, he also taught industrial technology for 27 years at Liberty, with a total of 33 years in the education industry.

The process of opening a new school isn’t easy, with faculty and administration needing to come together to agree on what is the most crucial elements of the school.

“I choose the best staff and teachers,” Brewer said. “Next, I empower them to help me in the process of creating a planning document in which all the staff contributes to what they feel is on the critical path- the things that need to be done.”

Curriculum is a good example of an item that would be on the “critical path.” The curriculum that would be taught to students would be the most crucial element of the planning process.

“The curriculum is still coming together,” Brewer said. “We still have curriculum coming in, but we have what’s most crucial and that’s the most important thing.”

Though within the next year Lenexa Hills administration will be working to find their mission vision and core values, Brewer will also work with students to help them find their voice.

“One of the best parts of my job is watching kids find their voices,” Brewer said. “They are learning and growing each day, and watching them have fun doing that and creating fun and engaging activities for them is so much fun.”

While Brewer was urged to have a design made for their mascot, the lion, he insisted to wait.

“We were going to have the lion designed,” Brewer said. “But I told them to slow down so we could give the kids a say in what their Lenexa Hills Lion will look like. We have several options.”

Brewer’s personal goal, however, is to have students who are not just successful, but happy as well.

“I really hope that I have students who are happy and well equipped to be the best citizens,” Brewer said. “ I want them to be able to do whatever they want to do, and I want them to have the academic skills to do whatever it is they want to do. I never want them to be disqualified from doing what they love because they don’t have the academic skills.”