2005 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Teri Agins

Wyandotte High School, 1971Teri Agins

Teri Agins sees life as a journey full of pit stops, detours, and fascinating experiences. The more experiences you have, the more you learn and grow.

As a senior special writer for the Wall Street Journal, Agins has had her fair share of fascinating experiences. She covers the retail and fashion industries, and has authored a nonfiction book, The End of Fashion: The Mass Marketing of the Clothing Business. Her fashion and retail expertise has landed her on numerous television entertainment and news programs, including "Oprah," "The View," "Extra," "Full Frontal Fashion," and CNN.

She believes her wholesome, Midwestern upbringing gave her a solid foundation and the stability she needed to thrive in school. She was a straight A student, a banner girl and a member of the yearbook staff, among other activities. Having "good teachers" in both junior high and high school, plus supportive and caring parents, gave her reasons to believe in herself.

She grew up knowing that she was going to attend college after high school, something her parents instilled in her at a young age.

Agins has a bachelor's degree in English and political science from Wellesley College, and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She began her career in journalism in 1977 as a reporter/editor for the Daily News Record in Chicago. From 1979 to 1984 she lived in Salvador and Belo Horizonte, Brazil where she worked as a correspondent for the Latin America Daily Post and served as a stringer for the Fairchild News Service, the New York Times and Time magazine.

Agin's advice for today's students is, "Be open to a lot of experiences." She believes that experiences are cumulative and help students to blossom and thrive.


2005 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Macie Houston

Sumner High School, 1969Macie Houston

Put your best foot forward. This is advice that has carried Macie Houston through her life.

It came from her Northeast Junior High School vice principal during a speech he made to students. It influenced her and has fared her well.

Today Houston is the regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) four-state Region VII: Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. In this position, she is HUD's liaison to mayors, city managers, elected representatives, state and local officials and business and community stakeholders.

Houston holds a bachelor of science in business administration from St. Mary University. And throughout her career she has held leadership roles in many community organizations, including the Greater Kansas City Federal Executive Board, Board of Trustees for St. Mary University, Outreach Ministries and the Territorial Kansas Heritage Alliance. She was nominated for Who's Who among female college students in 1979 and received the Brown Foundation State Award for Equity and Excellence in 1997. In 2003, she was selected the Outstanding Woman of the Year by Friends of Yates, Inc. for her meaningful contributions to her profession, family and community.

Growing up in a family of nine children, Houston said her greatest challenge during her school years was finding her own identity. But the support and guidance she received from her teachers in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools affected her in a positive way and gave her a sense of direction.

She believes that education plays a strong role in students' futures, but a belief in oneself is even more important. She wants to pass along to today's students that same advice she received as a teen: put your best foot forward. "Strive for all those things that you believe, and you will achieve success."


2005 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Janelle Albertson, APR

Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, 1983Janelle Albertson, APR

Janelle Albertson learned at an early age the value of having a good education. Growing up in a family of educators, she was surrounded by it, and lived it day in and day out. It was only natural that her career path would lead her to this familiar territory.

Albertson is the director of the communications division for the Adams 12 Five Star Schools, located north of Denver. She's been working in school public relations for 18 years, and her passion for the field shows.

She has actively promoted public education at the state and local levels and has worked to integrate the public relations functions throughout her many organizations. She's been an invited presenter for conferences around the nation speaking on issues such as communicating accountability issues and creating a culture to attract and motivate quality staff. She has served on several executive boards, including being named a vice president of the National School Public Relations Association.

Albertson said she counts her blessings every day for the teachers and administrators in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools who guided and shaped her future. "Now I see the tangible results of their influence," she said.

The programs and activities available to her through the district, Albertson said, provided her with valuable experiences and opportunities, and she credits the district's leadership for its vision.

Albertson believes education unlocks many doors of opportunity and gives you resources to enable you to continually move forward in life.

Her advice for today's students is, "Take advantage of the opportunities around you such as extra-curricular programs. They can provide the spark for an undiscovered interest you may have which can lead to a rewarding career." Most of all, she wants students to make lifelong learning a priority. "If you do, you'll continue to grow personally and professionally," she said.


2005 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Rosalyn Story

Sumner High School, 1968Rosalyn Story

She knows how to play to a crowd. That's probably the best way to describe musician and writer Rosalyn Story.

A violinist with the Fort Worth (Texas) Symphony, Story has been playing to audiences for more than 32 years. She got her start in music with the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra after studying violin at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Her love of music inspired her to write about it and her works have been praised by the media nationwide. She is the author of two books, the nonfiction, And So I Sing: African-American Divas of Opera and Concert, and More Than You Know, a tale of family ties and secrets that includes jazz settings.

She feels fortunate to be able to interweave her two career interests and to use her creative talents to touch others.

Growing up in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, Story said her biggest challenge was deciding what she wanted to do after high school. Her interests were vast and varied. But the support and encouragement she received from her music teacher at Northeast Junior High nurtured her and gave her a solid base from which to flourish musically.

"He told us we could do anything we wanted to do. He was extremely positive about our possibilities and potential," she remembers.

Story looks back on her days in the district with pride, and hasn't forgotten her roots. In 2004, while she was in Kansas City for a book tour, she visited with students at Arrowhead Middle School, performing for them on the violin and visiting with them about writing. She gave many of the students a reason to believe in themselves.

Story's advice for today's students is to find a passion and use it to learn the critical skills that will lead them through their lives.


2005 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Paul Morrison

Washington High School, 1972Paul Morrison

Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison is one of the most prominent and well respected prosecutors in Kansas. In 2001 he was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Kansas County and District Attorney's Association. But he believes he would not be where he is today without his high school debate experience.

Morrison was one of many students active in debate during his years at Washington High School. Competitive, and always ranking in the top five in the state, the team taught him discipline, leadership skills, and gave him a competitive spirit that carries over into his work today.

Morrison has been with the District Attorney's Office for 25 years, first serving as assistant district attorney under Congressman Dennis Moore, before being elected to his current position in 1989.

His office has initiated a number of programs which deal with fighting juvenile crime problems, domestic violence, and the marshaling of community groups to help prevent violence and the escalation of crime within Johnson County. He has given his time to many community groups over the years, including Sunflower House and SafeHome, Inc. In 2004, he was chairman of the Johnson County United Way fund-raising effort.

Morrison credits his parents and his debate coach, Alan Gould, for giving him reasons to believe in himself while growing up in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. He said he had a number of quality teachers who saw his potential and challenged him. Growing up in such a diverse mix of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds also helped him to see the world as it is, and he is grateful for that.

Morrison's advice for today's students is, "Discipline yourself to finish school and go on to college or trade school. Develop yourself educationally because education allows you to realize your potential."