2004 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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

Ralph Brightwell

Argentine High School, 1953Ralph Brightwell

Educators give endless amounts of time and energy to their students and Ralph Brightwell is certainly no exception. He has made a difference in the lives of hundreds of students over the years.

Brightwell retired from the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools in 1995 after 38 years of service. He taught social studies and coached football and basketball at Rosedale High School (now Rosedale Middle School) for nine years. From 1966-82 he was a guidance counselor at Argentine Middle School, before "moving up with his students" to J.C. Harmon High School.

He taught, coached, and counseled students on getting along with their peers and their parents. He gave them scholarship assistance and bought lunch for those who couldn't afford it. He said he doesn't have any idea how many students he impacted over the years, but his "door was always open." He gave them reasons to believe in themselves.

"If you don't believe in students, then they won't believe in themselves," he said.

The 1953 graduate of Argentine High School said his biggest challenge growing up was staying in school because his parents didn't have a lot of money. But through the support of many good teachers whom he looked up to, he became the first person in his family to go to college.

He earned his bachelor's degree in education, his master's degree in history and his counselor certification from Pittsburg State Teachers College. Then he came back to Kansas City, Kansas to teach and inspire others.

He is a life member of the PTA, and served on the Board of Directors of Associated Youth Services for 25 years, and the Kansas National Educators Association. Among his numerous awards are Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools' Employee of the Month and Kaw Valley Junior Chamber of Commerce's Outstanding Young Educator Award.