Friday, August 17, 2012

Educators to be inducted into Mid-America Education Hall of Fame

Three educators who have spent a combined 120 years as teachers and administrators in Kansas schools and colleges are among six inductees into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame for 2012.

Marlin Cooper, who has taught instrumental music for more than 40 years including 27 at Kansas City Kansas Community College; Dr. Ron Wimmer, a teacher and administrator for 40 of his 42 years in education in the Olathe School District; and Albert Frisby, a teacher of biology and chemistry for 30 of his 37 years in education at SM Northwest High School, will be inducted on Saturday, Nov. 3.

They will be joined by long-time Kansas City Kansas Public Schools board member and philanthropist George Breidenthal and two organizations, the 20/20 Leadership program and the Partnership for Regional Education Preparation of Kansas City best known as PREP-KC.

The induction ceremonies will be held in the J. Paul Jewell Student Center at Kansas City Kansas Community College and are a fund-raiser for the KCKCC Endowment Association’s Scholarship Fund.

The dinner and induction ceremonies will be emceed by Christa Dubill, KSHB-TV NBC Action News anchor, and are open to the public.

Tickets are $65 and can be reserved by contacting the KCKCC Endowment Association at 913-288-7166 or

The 2012 inductees:

MARLIN COOPER – An icon in Kansas City instrumental jazz, Marlin Cooper was inducted into the Kansas Music Educators Hall of Fame in Wichita last fall. After starting in the KCK public schools including eight years at Coronado Junior High, Cooper spent 27 years at KCKCC where his bands competed in international jazz festivals in Montreaux, Switzerland; Banff, Canada; Mexico City, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Washington. Many of his students have excelled, the foremost jazz legend and UMKC professor Bobby Watson. Retired from KCKCC in 1999, Cooper taught band in elementary schools and continues today to entertain senior citizens with a one-man saxophone show.

DR. RON WIMMER – During his 14 years as superintendent, Dr. Ron Wimmer led the Olathe School District to national recognition for student achievement, innovative programming and staff development. Enrollment increased 600 students a year from 15,537 to 23,699, the state’s third largest district, and 16 new schools were opened. The recipient of numerous outstanding educator awards including Kansas Superintendent of the Year in 1997, Dr. Wimmer retired in 2005 after 40 years as a teacher and administrator in the Olathe district and then returned as interim Superintendent of Schools for the DeSoto School District from 2009-11.

ALBERT FRISBY – A three-time recipient of the Kansas Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Math Teaching, Albert Frisby taught biology, chemistry and anatomy and physiology for 30 years at SM Northwest and biology for six years at Liberty High School before retiring in 2008. His teaching, however, extended well beyond the classroom. A director of the Kansas Junior Academy of Science for 10 years, he organized and implemented the Meet the Science Mentor Program; served as a judge for the Greater KC Science and Engineering Fair for the past 30 years; and is currently director for the Saturday Science Seminar program and continues to be a catalyst in community service projects.

GEORGE BREIDENTHAL – A graduate of KCK public schools, Donnelly College and Emporia State University, George Breidentthal has given back to all three as a member of the USD 500 school board since 1983, the Board of Trustees at Donnelly since 1991 and a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors for Emporia State. He’s also a member of the Kansas State Historical Society’s Pioneer Club and president and owner of Kansas City Women’s Professional Basketball Inc. and yet returns to the classroom as a substitute teacher. While private and anonymous in his philanthropy, Breidenthal’s family foundation has founded countless projects dedicated to education at all levels.

PREP-KC – The Partnership for Regional Education Preparation of Kansas City (PREP-KC) was founded in 2005 with the mission to increase college readiness and access to high-quality employment for mostly low income students. Originally working with the KCK and Kansas City, Mo., school districts, it has expanded into the Center, Hickman Mills Grandview and Independence school districts providing targeted funding supporting specific research projects, technical assistance and data-based framework for measuring progress in student achievement. Students are also offered hands-on learning through a KCK School District Partnership with KCKCC offering summer academies in bio-science, engineering and teaching.

20/20 LEADERSHIP – With a vision of “Leaders for a Lifetime,” the 20/20 Leadership program was founded in 1993 to educate and expose students to community issues, teach leadership skills and build community-wide relationships to ultimately create a stronger work force and more involved community. Starting with a junior program of 36 students and a budget of $3,500 in 1993, 20/20 has expanded eight-fold with 291 students from 21 high schools participating in 2011-12 and 2,941 alumni. Through funding from numerous groups including the Ewing Marion Kauffman, Garth Brooks and Sprint foundations, leadership programs for juniors, seniors and alumni are offered along with scholarships.