2013 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Nicoletta Economy

Wyandotte High School, 1955Niki Economy

Education has been Niki Economy's life. As a student, a teacher and an education administrator, her passion for learning and teaching always shined. Looking back today, she is proud of her legacy.

Economy was a teacher and role model to hundreds of students in the 1960s and 1970s at Northwest Junior High School and Wyandotte High School. She taught English and journalism. She was able to draw out the finest talents from students who didn't know they had such abilities.

Many can still recite her guiding principles that she had written on her classroom blackboard. They included, "If all else fails, follow directions," and "A deadline is a deadline is a deadline." These were actually principles that she learned from her own journalism teacher while she was a student at Wyandotte.

For 10 consecutive years, her students medaled in the Columbia Scholastic Press Association awards competition. For her excellence in journalism teaching, she was honored with the Gold Key Award from Columbia Press. And she was inducted into the first Kansas Scholastic Press Association Hall of Fame.

Economy's love for teaching grew from the examples set by her teachers. She had such a wonderful educational experience growing up in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools that she knew there was no question that she was going to come back to the district after college to teach.

Over the years, she has been invited to numerous reunions held by her students. And she has received phone calls from them as well, thanking her for the impact she had on their lives.

She had a 30-year career in education and feels honored to have touched so many lives.

"If I have made an impact on students, then that is my greatest accomplishment," she said.


2013 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Michael Harrity

Sumner Academy of Arts and Science, 1995Harrity Mike

Mike Harrity believes that the foundation for success is having belief in yourself and the courage to pursue your aspirations. That belief was shared and cultivated by caring teachers and staff members in the KCK schools he attended, which has played a vital role in leading him to a prosperous and fulfilling career helping college student-athletes achieve their ambitions.

It was his high school English teacher who planted the seed that would open doors to many opportunities in his future. She told Harrity, "You're a really good writer. Would you consider working for the school newspaper?"

He did, and he went on to become the sports editor. Then during his senior year, he won a KC Metro wide journalism competition. That led to a full scholarship to The University of Kansas, where he received national journalism honors during his college career.

Today, Harrity is the Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Services at the University of Notre Dame. He said he is blessed to have such an influential position at a prestigious academic and athletic institution. He is thrilled with the opportunity to make a direct positive impact on students daily.

Growing up with parents who always emphasized education, Harrity knew that college could open doors to his future. He is proud to be a first generation college graduate.

Harrity is the author of "Coaching Wisdom," a book featuring leadership lessons from first-hand interviews with 13 coaches, who have won a combined 103 championships, and their players. The book identifies common themes across all of their leadership philosophies, many of which were mirrored by the caring teachers Mike learned from at Stanley Elementary, Argentine Middle School and Sumner Academy of Arts and Science.


2013 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Linnie Poke

Sumner High School, 1974Linnie.Poke

The high expectations set by her teachers have given Linnie Poke reasons to believe in herself, and have shaped her life.

The lessons she has carried forth from her public school days aren't just those related to academics. They include the way she carries herself and presents herself. She can still hear her principal say, "Shoulders back. . . head up." She learned to emanate a sense of pride for who she was, and thanks to the guidance of those teachers and the many other adults in her life, she became a leader and role model for others.

Poke has spent her career as an educator in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. For 35 years she has been shaping the lives of students with her lessons and her words. She began her career as a traveling elementary music teacher. Some students still confess to remembering all the words to the songs she taught them, and most importantly, they remember her enthusiasm.

She has spent the better part of her career as the principal at Quindaro Elementary School. She finds it gratifying to see the growth of her students and teachers, and to watch the relationships that they build.

During her senior year at Baker University, she performed the Star Spangled Banner at the Kansas City Kings basketball game. That performance resulted in an offer for a scholarship to Julliard. But Poke knew where she wanted to be: she wanted to go back home to KCK and teach and influence lives.

She has received the Black Educators Distinguished Teacher Award. In 2002, the Unified Government designated May 16 to be named in her honor for all she has given to Quindaro Elementary and KCKPS students.

Her advice for today's students is: "stay the course. Gain the knowledge that you need in order to have the options that you want, then make a plan and stick with it."



2013 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Megan Randle-Robinson

Washington High School, 1999Megan Randle Robinson

Dreams do come true. Megan Randle-Robinson has achieved many of the goals she dreamed about growing up, and she still has more to fulfill.

Staying focused, believing in herself and working hard have been the keys to her success. She wants students to know that it's possible to achieve anything they set their minds on.

Randle-Robinson is an intensive care registered nurse and a nursing instructor. She loves building trusting relationships with her patients and students by leading, guiding and nurturing them.

Growing up, she was drawn to the visual image of a professional uniform. While she didn't know exactly what field she wanted to pursue, she knew it would be one where she wore a uniform. She saw uniforms as garnering respect. She also knew she wanted to have a career that enabled her to give back to the community that raised her.

Randle-Robinson faced a number of challenges growing up, including homelessness and being raised in a single parent family. She learned from these experiences, and she knew she could make her life what she wanted it to be, if she worked hard.

She said, "Just because you're up doesn't mean you can't come tumbling down. So I take where I am today, and look to the future. Looking back where I was also makes me able to focus on where I am going."

She believes her greatest accomplishment is finishing nursing school. Having her nursing degree opened many doors, and it has allowed her to pass on her legacy and make a difference in the lives of her patients, students and co-workers.

Randle-Robinson has received a number of recognitions for her excellent work. Providence Medical Center honored her with the Nurse of Distinction Award in 2011, and the Florence Nightingale Award in 2012.


2013 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Linda Pendleton

Argentine High School, 1964Linda.Pendleton

"Woman of the Year," "Citizen of the Year" and "Woman of Distinction" are three of the many awards Linda Pendleton has received that demonstrate her character, her leadership and her commitment to her community.

She has devoted countless hours to the Armourdale Renewal Association, the Shepherd's Center, the KCK Community College Advancement Council, the KCK Public Library Foundation, the KCK School Foundation for Excellence and many others.

Many people associate Pendleton with the KCK Board of Education, where she served four terms. She is most proud of the First Things First school reform effort undertaken during her time on the board, which changed the way teachers teach and the way students learn.

She believes in giving back to her community, and to the district that prepared her well for her future. Knowing that her family could not afford to pay for college, Pendleton sought the training she needed for her career from her high school business classes. She excelled at shorthand, typing and accounting, and won a number of awards. These classes gave her the skills to help her land her first job, and she continues to use those same skills in her work today. She is grateful to her business teacher for challenging her and encouraging her to excel.

Pendleton has spent most of her career working as an office manager and executive secretary. One of her employers was the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, where she worked in pupil services, personnel and at Noble Prentis Elementary School, when her three sons were students there. In more recent years, she worked as the HR supervisor at Kansas City, Kansas Community College. During her time there, she received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development award for leadership in community colleges. Today she is a full-time realtor.

Her advice for today's students is "always strive to do your best."