2012 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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

Robert Johnston

robert johnstonJ.C. Harmon High School, 1984

Robert Johnston is proud to know that his work supports soldiers who are sacrificing their lives for this country. He works for the Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM) supporting the U.S. Army. He leads a team that inventories the equipment of military units prior to their redeployment back to the U.S. He is currently deployed in Afghanistan.

Prior to this work for the U.S. government, Johnston served as a solider in the Army so he understands how important his work is to the troops.

Responsibility is something that came to Johnston at a young age. As the oldest sibling in a single-parent family, Johnston was charged with taking care of his siblings when his mom made the decision to go back to college. His mom's determination to better herself, served as an inspiration to him. She set an example for him and gave him reasons to believe in himself.

His middle school math teacher and basketball coach, Michael Patterson, also gave him reasons to believe while he was growing up. Patterson mentored students, including Johnston. He spent time with them after school, and even fed many whom he knew had little to eat at home. The examples set by his mother and teacher showed him that any goal is attainable with hard work.

Johnston is thankful for the education he received from the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, but not just the academic learning. He said the life lessons that came from teachers and staff have helped carry him throughout his life.

He has received several awards for his professional work including the National Defense Medal Army Service Ribbon, Army Commendation Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal with 3 Bronze Service Star, Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, NATO Award, Global War on Terrorism and the Officers Professional Development Ribbon.

His advice for today's students is: Always believe in yourself!

 

2012 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Richard Rasdall, Jr.

richard rasdallWyandotte High School, 1966

The slogan "pay it forward" has directed much of Richard Rasdall's life and career. He believes strongly in giving back to individuals and organizations that have impacted his life.

He is a steadfast supporter of education because of his positive experiences growing up in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. He remembers Wyandotte High School as an environment of high expectations, and of tremendous cooperation and assistance. He was highly influenced by administrators, faculty and coaches at Wyandotte and at West Junior High. His coaches stressed the importance of teamwork – a value he has carried with him throughout his life.

"I appreciate the fact that I grew up in an era in KCK where the combination of educational opportunities, athletic competition and work experiences provided invaluable opportunities to grow and develop," he said.

He received an academic scholarship to KCK Community College after graduation, and two years later went on to Kansas State University where he earned a degree in education. His first job out of college was as an American government teacher and baseball coach at Wyandotte. He is grateful that this was the basis for his career because it allowed him to give back to his alma mater.

He spent the next 37 years of his career with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He retired in 2009 as first vice president and chief operating officer. Since that time, he has dedicated himself to making a difference in his community.

He has been a long-time board member of the KCKCC Endowment Association, and today serves as president. He likes knowing that the work he is doing is providing that same support to students that he received so many years ago.

Rasdall was inducted into the Mid-America Education Hall of Fame in 2009.

 

2012 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Nancy Browne

nancy browneWyandotte High School, 1970

Nancy Browne has three rules that guide her life. They are rules set by her high school yearbook teacher.

  • Organization is the key to success
  • If all else fails, follow directions
  • A deadline, is a deadline, is a deadline

Her yearbook teacher is one of many staff who gave her reasons to believe in herself when she was a student in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. She thrived on the abundance of support she felt during those years and the many activities that paved her future path.

One activity was swimming. She was an active swimmer and a member of Splash Club at Wyandotte High School. She went on to compete on the swim team when she was at the University of Kansas (KU).

After earning her degree in health and physical education at KU, she came back to KCK and began her lifelong career as a teacher, teaching health, PE and swimming. Over the years, she has taught hundreds of students how to swim; her abilities in this sport have changed many students' lives.

She taught at Wyandotte for six years before moving to Washington High School, where she taught for 28 year before retiring in 2008. At Washington, she also served as the girls swim coach for 14 years and the boys swim coach for eight. Even in her retirement years she has remained actively involved with students; she has spent the last four years as the athletic director at Washington. Education has been her whole life.

Browne has remained true to her roots over the years and has supported a number of community groups including the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Chapter of the March of Dimes, Creative Experiences and the Junior League of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties.

Among her many awards, she was named Northeast Kansas Rotary Teacher of the Year in 2007 and Washington's Coach of the Year in 2005.

 

2012 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Paul C. Jones, Jr.

paul jonesWyandotte High School, 1978

Community leader, hero, role model and athlete are just a few ways to describe Paul Jones. He has had a 26-year career with the Kansas City, Kansas Fire Department, working his way up the ranks from firefighter to driver to captain. Today, he serves as battalion chief/fire investigator. For his courage and dedication to the safety of the community, he was named Firefighter of the Year in 1991. He likes helping others and being able to support his community.

Athletics was a big part of Jones' life growing up. He excelled in track and made the varsity team as a sophomore at Wyandotte High School. His athleticism earned him a scholarship to Cloud County Community College where he continued to flourish in track and qualified for the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team. Unfortunately, the U.S. boycotted the games that year, and Jones' dreams of being an Olympian were crushed. He was disappointed, but knew he could not let this setback define his life. He earned a scholarship to the University of Arkansas (UA) where he continued to run track. He was a member of two indoor and two outdoor NCAA championship teams at UA and qualified for two college world-record relay teams.

After earning his bachelor's degree in education, he came back to KCK to teach. He thrived on the support he received from so many teachers and coaches while growing up in the district, and he wanted to give that same support to today's students. Two years later, he began his career with the KCK Fire Department. But through the years, he has continued to serve as a substitute teacher in the KCK Public Schools.

In 2008, he was inducted into the Cloud County Community College Athletic Hall of Fame. He is also a recipient of the Black Men of Distinction Award from the Friends of Yates.

 

2012 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

Reasons to Believe logo

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

Michael Stone

mike stoneWyandotte High School, 1968

Many students exit high school uncertain of their futures. But this wasn't the case for Mike Stone. He knew he wanted to work in the printing business, and today, he has built an impressive 44-year career in the field.

Stone is an account executive for Spangler Graphics. He started his career there as a pressman right out of high school. He served as a pressroom foreman and pressroom manager before becoming an account executive.

Stone credits his former scoutmaster, Larry Goodnight, for sparking his interest in the printing field. Goodnight owned a printing company and paid members of his troop to help him clean the plant after hours. That exposure intrigued Stone and slowly he began to ask questions about the printing process.

Because he was just an average student, Stone didn't see college in his future. So during his senior year, he opted for the Vocational Technical Education Center program provided at Wyandotte High School, focusing on printing. The three-hour program, which was offered every afternoon, gave him the training he needed to work in the industry. His teacher helped him draft his first resume which landed him his first, and only job in his career.

Through his work, Stone has become a resource to many, and has built a reputation for being a man of his word, and someone who is attentive to the task at hand.

He is proud to be a Dotte and has dedicated himself to supporting several community organizations over the years including MOSAIC, Biz2Biz Connections, and Power Partners. He has served as an ambassador for the KCK Chamber of Commerce and he supports aspiring printers through an apprentice program offered through his company.

His dedication to his work has earned him several awards over the years including the Earl Spangler Special Achievement Award, the Earl Spangler Sales Achievement Award and the Creative Consumer Concepts Vendor of the Year Award (for two consecutive years).