Three Sjsd Principals Announce Their Retirement

Three Sjsd Principals Announce Their Retirement


Contact: Tyran Sumy, 671-4220, Jeaneen Boyer, 671-4210, Mike Otto, 671-4290


(1-20-2017) Three long-time principals will be leaving the St. Joseph School District at the end of the 2016 – 2017 school year: Lafayette High School Principal Dr. Tyran Sumy, Hyde Elementary Principal Jeaneen Boyer, and Oak Grove Elementary School Principal Mike Otto.

“All three principals are excellent educators and have made large contributions to their schools and the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Newhart. “We are proud of the years they have put in. We will miss them greatly, and we wish them the best in their future endeavors. These will be hard shoes to fill.”

Dr. Tyran Sumy, Lafayette High School

Dr. Tyran Sumy, Principal of Lafayette High School, will retire after 21 years with the district, 26 years as an administrator, and 33 years as an educator. Dr. Sumy also taught courses at William Woods University from 2007 to 2013.

Originally from Oklahoma, Dr. Sumy grew up in Kansas near Salina, where her father was principal of Southeast of Saline Elementary. Education runs in her family: her brother is a principal and her sister and sister-in-law are both teachers.

Dr. Sumy taught social studies and coached volleyball and basketball at Nodaway-Holt R-VII High School for ten years before coming to St. Joseph. “My background in coaching always helped me to develop my skills as a principal. When I work with the faculty, students, and staff, I always feel it is similar to working with a team, building the team, and helping them improve.”

Dr. Sumy became a middle school principal at Nodaway-Holt in 1991 and the high school principal in 1993. In 1996, she came to Lafayette as an assistant, and in 2000 she became the principal. She has been at Lafayette for 21 years. “It’s bittersweet,” she said of retiring. “Initially I was sad, but I’m looking forward to the next phase of my life.

“I’m very proud of Lafayette High School and what we’ve accomplished. I feel like I have been blessed to work with some talented educators and fortunate to be part of the Northside. My focus has always been to provide the most qualified teachers and establish a positive culture. Working hand in hand with all to ensure students succeed.

“When you’re an administrator, it is like an adventure. You think you have everything all planned out and then Boom! you are hit with a detour. I find being a principal to be very rewarding – never a dull moment.”

Dr. Sumy received her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in History Education at Kansas State University in 1983. She obtained a Master’s Degree (M.S.) in Secondary Administration at Northwest Missouri State University in 1991, a Specialist in Education (Ed.S) in Education and Superintendency at Northwest Missouri in 1997 and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Education and Urban Leadership from the University of Missouri – Kansas City in 2001.

Dr. Sumy has received a number of awards during her career. In 2016, she was named the Northwest Missouri Association Student Council Administrator of the Year and the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principal’s Consummate Professional. In 2010, she was the St. Joseph PTA Council Outstanding Principal of the Year and the Northwest Missouri School Counselors Association Counselor Advocate. She was recognized as “Most Influential Teacher” by the University of Missouri for 1991-1992.

Jeaneen Boyer, Hyde Elementary School

Jeaneen Boyer, principal at Hyde Elementary, has been an educator for 31 years. She began teaching in Kansas City Kansas at Central Elementary, where she taught fourth grade, then came to Hosea Elementary in 1990, where she taught fourth and fifth grade. In 1995, she became the principal of Hall Elementary, and in 2014, she became the principal of Hyde Elementary.

“When I think about my career,” said Boyer, “One of the things I think about it always doing what’s best for kids. In the classroom, it was about making learning fun and doing what’s best for kids and putting individuals first.

For Boyer, a belief in kindness and God is what drives her. “What I believe is hopefully what comes out of me. I hope they remember – I cared about people, my faith was important to me and so was doing what’s right for kids.”

Boyer knew she wanted to be a teacher from an early age. “My desire to be in education started in fourth grade. I was lucky in that it never wavered once. From the time I was in fourth grade on, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, so I went right on to college and got that degree and began teaching.”

Boyer has many memories of her time with the district. She treasures many of the creative learning experiences she did with students. For example, she, Deb Cook, Joyce Clark and Ruth Clark started a pioneer walk that began at Hosea and went to Drake Ball Fields. Another fun field trip involved visiting a pig farmer to discuss erosion.

Over the years, Boyer has become known for a fun quirk – doing cartwheels as an incentive for students. This began when she was a teacher. She would use it as an incentive for the kids and they really liked it, so it quickly became a way to reward them. When she changed schools, her reputation for doing cartwheels followed her. At Hyde, each class, third through sixth, in the school can earn four cartwheels a quarter as a reading incentive, so at the quarterly awards assemblies, she often does as many as 30 or 40 cartwheels.

Boyer has been honored to worked with excellent staff and has had many mentors. “The teachers and staff – their love for what they do and how well they do it – they are what make my job so enjoyable, doable and worth doing on a daily basis.

“The people who have worked with me have formed who I am. Here’s what I know: they are smart people, and they are going to take Hyde even further. We have a great school and community – there’s no reason that they won’t continue to be great.”

Boyer graduated from Missouri Western with a BS in education. She received a Masters in Multicultural Studies from Kansas State University, and completed a Specialist degree at UMKC.

She was the runner up for Teacher of the Year, was nominated as the St. Joseph Distinguished Principal, has received the PTA Principal of the Year Award, and was recognized by a student for Who’s Who Among Educators. In her early years at Hall, she was one of three principals who received the Comprehensive School Reform Grant, a three year grant that provided for intensive professional development on creating a constructivist approach to teaching.

“It was a great career, and I would recommend it,” she said. “It is a tough career, but I would do it all again. I have loved my job – God has given me a passion for what I do. I’ve been blessed for 31 years to work in an area of passion He gave me.”

Mike Otto, Oak Grove Elementary School

Mike Otto, principal at Oak Grove Elementary, has been an educator for 31 years, beginning as a physical education and special education teacher in 1986. He taught in the Park Hill School District for seven years before becoming a principal there. He has been a principal for 17 years, ten years at Park Hill and seven years for the St. Joseph School District. Otto became principal of Coleman Elementary in 2010 moved to Oak Grove when the school opened in 2014. He was also a professor for seven years at Park University, and continues to teach adjunct classes at Ottawa University.

“The best years of my life have been here,” said Otto. “The last seven years as an educator have been the best of my career. I think the thing I was most proud of was creating schools that always put kids first, a staff that had my absolute support, and our accomplishments of being gold star and blue ribbon schools.

“I feel proud and honored to be in here every day. You have to use the space and time you have to do your very best, and you’ll leave a legacy then. The key is to be honored to be in a school. I think the greatest profession you could have is to be a teacher.”

For Otto, one of his proudest moments is seeing the students he taught out in the community and having them say “Hey, Mr. Otto, remember when?” He is proud to see them as adults and professionals and know that he was always there for them.

To Otto, the big picture is important in education, as are the things happening in a student’s life. “We teach children, not content. We teach content through children. The context is so important – if a student’s dog died last night, the student won’t be ready to learn.

“Education’s a simple thing, actually. Just care. Care about what you do, and become the best at what you do. The ones that get it, man! they’re great. They’re powerhouses, and I love to be around those people.

“I feel today like the first day I ever stepped into a classroom. I still can’t believe I get paid for it. Nothing’s different. Kids are kids. That’s the fun part about being an educator. An educator means to me a parent, a teacher, a staff member, a bus driver – all the people that touch a student’s life.”

After retiring, Otto will continue to teach at the university level though Ottawa University. “I’m ready to begin another chapter with my family while teaching college. I’m going back to teaching teachers and future principals what I know works best. I want to give them a prescription for being effective. Ottawa University is a great institution and I love their value system. I have taught with them for 12 years.”

Otto received his Bachelor in Physical Education from Central Missouri State University in 1986. He received a Masters in Educational Administration in 1991 and his Educational Administration Specialist in 1992 from UMKC. He pursued his doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri – Columbia, completing his studies in 2013; he is currently all but dissertation.

Otto has received several awards as an educator. In 2014, he was the SJSD’s Principal of the Year. He has also been Missouri’s National Distinguished Principal and a Park Hill Hero. He has received the Superintendent’s Bell-Ringer Award, the Northland Chamber of Commerce’s Support to Education Award and their Excellence in Teaching Award, the Graden Spirit Award, the Kindest Kansas City Award, and the Southeast Elementary Spirit Award.