Dorothy Drake has a true passion for teaching and educating the next generation of students. In fact, she has educated several generations during her four-decade teaching career. That’s right, Drake is about to complete her 40th year of education after she began her career as a kindergarten teacher in 1982.
Over the years, she has migrated throughout Missouri. She started in Laddonia, moved to Pleasant Hope, returned to her hometown of Warrensburg – where she completed her Master’s degree in Learning Disabilities – all before arriving in Lee’s Summit, where she helped open Richardson Elementary and was a Reading Specialist for K-6 grades.
In 2010, Drake retired. But that wouldn’t be the end of her teaching career. She accepted a Building Substitute position during the COVID-19 pandemic at Trailridge Elementary School and has flourished in the role of teaching a variety of subjects to K-6 grade students. That includes music, art, physical education, special education, recess and cafeteria monitor.
“When I don’t have a classroom assignment, I am fortunate to work one-on-one with students who benefit from additional reading support,” said Drake. “These days are extremely rewarding and fill my heart with happiness and pride. Teaching my own kindergarten class in the summer, like I did at the beginning of my teaching career, is icing on the cake!”
Drake takes pride in building strong, lasting relationships with her students. Having the opportunity to help educate the children of her former students is special to her because it reiterates the importance of a strong education and the tight-knit bond that those in her local community share.
One comment that has left a lasting impact on her occurred when she was a Reading Specialist. A former Assistant Principal once told her, “Dorothy, I have never seen a teacher with your passion for working with struggling readers daily.” She says that comment left a huge mark on her heart and helps remind her to strive to always continue to work with that passion.
“One of my proudest moments in education is being needed as a teacher, valued as an educator and knowing in my heart that the kids needed me as their teacher,” said Drake.
When she was younger, Drake was told by her mother, “if you can read, you can go anywhere you want to go.” In an effort to honor her mother, Drake passes that advice on to her students through her daily initiatives and lesson plans. Her motto is: “The more you read, the better you get!”. Her optimism, cheerfulness, determination and advice are on display each and every day at Trailridge Elementary School, as it has always been at the numerous other schools where she has taught at over the past 40 years.
“I think it is important to instill standards with my students because we are a team,” said Drake. “We help each other when needed, and we continue to achieve success together.
Drake follows her father’s passion for education – he was a Professor of Economics at Central Missouri State University (now the University of Central Missouri) – and lets her students know that hard work will be rewarded, even though it may not happen immediately. She wants them to always believe in themselves, as she does for them, as they are preparing for a bright and successful future.
“Dorothy dedicated the last 40 years of her life to education and enriching the lives of every student she encounters,” said Dawson Sivils, Dorothy’s nominator. “When she heard the offer of returning full-time based on need, she didn’t think twice and agreed, almost immediately, to return to the classroom to help provide extra assistance to students who may have fallen behind during the pandemic.”
“As indicated by Dorothy’s nominator, her passion and dedication for teaching is unmatched and she’s a true inspiration within our community,” said Jenny Housley, Blue KC Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Dorothy had already completed a world-class career, but when she saw the need for additional support that was caused by the pandemic, she sprang into action and continued her mission of educating our youth. We’re proud to highlight her 40 years of teaching and know the Kansas City community supports her commitment to our schools.”
“As I complete my 40th year in education, I have hope and excitement for the future as I look at the youngest learners in our school district,” said Drake.
Blue KC Sporting Samaritans will continue to be recognized monthly at Children’s Mercy Park during Sporting home games. Fans are encouraged to nominate teachers and students who are making a positive impact on their schools and communities by using the form online at https://www.sportingkc.com/BlueKC.