Exceeded Excellence

Three teachers are leaving BV West at the end of the year.

Is it possible to live up to a goal of exceeding excellence? This school year may have been an anomaly, but what hasn’t changed is the dedication of the staff. As the school year comes to a close, we learn that some of BV West’s beloved staff members will be moving on in the coming year. What has it been like for them personally? Three individual teachers from different areas of the school have one thing in common: this will be their last year teaching at BV West. But, how has the journey been? What’s important to remember as they move on, and leave us with their legacy?

The Spotlight asked about their experiences to get the best insight on what it’s like to teach at one school so long and what it’s like to move on.

Dr. Brett Potts has been the principal of Blue Valley West since 2013. After 15 years of teaching, Potts knew it was time to move up to administration. So when the position at BV West opened up, he applied. Being in the center of things for nearly eight years has taught him a lot about life and leadership, similar to how he has taught the BV West family. He lives by his famous cornerstones: family, pride, grit, and acceptance.

“We went through a process eight years ago, as I entered as the principal, we just wanted to take a step back and say, what do we stand for here at West and we got input and feedback from our staff and from students and parents, and we created a list of values and collective commitments, as well as we created a vision for the school,” Potts said.

Potts adds that the impact the cornerstones have throughout the community has surprised him. Even students and staff who didn’t attend BV West have a grasp on them which he is increasingly proud of.

As Potts gets ready to depart BV West he hopes that the cornerstones he helped to create are here to stay at the school, forever cementing his legacy.

“My hope is that they remain here as part of the development of students, but I’m hoping that you and all of your classmates take them with you when you leave, and they’re always a part of you. That would really make me happy,” Potts said.

One of the biggest challenges that Potts faced was an unexpected challenge. Taking care of all the students is a big task and something that he didn’t feel the weight of until he got the job.

“So then you kind of take a step back and think, I’ve got a big responsibility here. Each and every one of these students are different.

They’ve got different backgrounds, different family situations, different interests, and how do you as a leader, try to create a school that is home to all those students that they feel good about. And [that] they have a great experience while they’re here and get them ready for whatever their next steps are,” Potts said.

Knowing that all of this rests on his shoulders, Potts never took this challenge lightly over his eight years at BV West and worked hard to make everyone feel included.

On the other hand, for every challenge Potts has faced there have been many triumphs and memorable moments. Whether it’s watching the students sing the alma mater at the end of assemblies bringing tears to his eyes, or doing the announcements with students. Those are the moments Potts will miss. Along with witnessing state championships and watching students grow and collaborate in the classrooms, the family aspect of the school will forever stay with him.

“But I’ve seen this community do that time and time again, we’ve had some tragedy in the school, but I’m always proud of the way that our community responds when things happen and how they celebrate when good things happen, “ Potts said.

Adding the reason why he will remember these moments the most, is due to the relationships he has forged.

“But those they’re all relationship-based, you know? And they all have to do with the family aspect of the school. That’s what I’m going to remember the most, that’s what makes it hardest to leave, “ Potts adds.

As Potts leaves BV West he looks forward to his new role at District Office, working with the administration teams at the five Blue Valley high schools along with the Academy and CAPS.

“One of my main focuses is going to be supporting those leaders so that they can support the growth of their staff and their students and continue to improve their school,” Potts said.

He is excited to get to work and be a supporter as well as a resource that those principals can rely on, similar to how he was a resource for the teachers here while he was principal.

As well as working on different projects to help all students enjoy their high school experience and create as many opportunities for students as he can.

With the exit of BV West’s principal many are wondering who will fill that slot. Recently, it has been announced that Katie Bonnema will become the new principal. Currently Bonnema works for Blue Valley as Director of Career-Ready Programs.

Bonnema also worked as an assistant principal at BV West three years ago, and is a close friend to Potts who believes that she will do great next year.

Believing that her new set of eyes will help see things that many don’t and help to take BV West to the next level as a school and as a community.

Also up in the administrative office is Cindy Roach, Blue Valley Wests’s athletic director and associate principal.

Roach has worked at West since the building opened–for over 20 years.

Her teaching career began in 1985 in the physical education department at Shawnee Mission Northwest. She also worked as a volleyball coach. Athletics are very present in her background–she has had sports teams experience at JCCC including softball and volleyball.

After mandating things in the athletic department at Blue Valley West so well for so long, Roach will leave a large legacy and hard shoes to fill behind her.

Another member of the BV West family that is leaving is Coach Scott Wright. Wright taught in Blue Valley for 20 years before coming to BV West in 2001. Like Roach, Wright has been with BV West for 20 years–since it first opened.

Along with his teaching experience, he has been a baseball, football, and swimming coach for BV North, BV High, and of course BV West.

For fifteen years he was the head football coach of BV West. He fostered a culture of Team First, one of the philosophies that made him such an inspirational coach and so impactful to the BV West football program. As well as following the motto, love and serve those whom you have be entrusted to.

Over his many years of coaching, Wright says that the relationships he has made with the teams have been some of his favorite memories.

“I love to compete, so the growing by competition was always a joy. But, the relationships I was blessed to make with the coaches and students/athletes will be my biggest treasure!” Wright said.

As both a teacher and a coach Wright remarks that everyday is a new challenge when it comes to young people. Adding that being a small part of a student’s growth and struggle was worth the reward to him.

Being around students and athletes for more than 20 years Wright has certainly learned lessons from them that he will take away with him as he enters retirement.

“I learn more from my students than they ever will learn from me. But the ability to be flexible is one that I constantly admire in young people,” Wright said.

While Wright is looking forward to his future he can’t leave without giving one last piece of advice to his former and future athletes.

“Strive to be the best teammate you can be. When you strive to serve your teammates you instantly become a better player,” Wright said.

With Wright moving on, BV West will feel the absence of his presence not only in the athletic department but around the school as a whole. Wright is excited for new opportunities as well as spending more time with his friends and family.

“Looking forward to starting a new challenge (not sure what it is) but looking forward to the uncertainty of the unknown. It will also give me a new opportunity for growth as a person. Also just some more time with my family and friends!” Wright said.

It’s always sad to see such inspiring people leave, but everyone is excited to move on to the next chapter in their lives. It is the definition of bittersweet for BV West. However, the school is lucky to have known them at all. It’s safe to say these staff members exceeded excellence as they planned all those years ago. All students and staff members will carry what they taught and continue their legacies. The Spotlight wishes Dr. Potts well on his next endeavor. As well as wishing Ms. Roach and Coach Wright congratulations on their retirement. Once a Jaguar, always a Jaguar.