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Advisory Council works to ensure School of Education drives the field forward

Jay HarrisJay Harris, ’91, takes pride in being a member of the Baker University Education Advisory Council.

As a Baker graduate and a son of Dan and Peggy Harris, two longtime Baker educators, coaches, and administrators, Jay wanted to make a difference, sharing more than 30 years of his experience in education as Baker continues to look for ways to guide the next generation of school leaders—just like his parents did. Peggy, a member of Baker’s Faculty Hall of Fame, retired as vice president and dean of the School of Education at Baker, where she served for 30 of her 43 years in education. Dan retired in 2009 after serving 26 years at Baker, including a long tenure as athletics director before being inducted into the Baker Athletic Hall of Fame.

“My purpose for participating on this council is to give back in whatever way I can to support Baker, especially the School of Education,” said Jay, superintendent of Platte County (Missouri) R-3.

“I believe in Baker. I am grateful for my experience and preparation from Baker. I also want to honor the legacy of the best educator I know, Dr. Peggy Harris. I know the heart and soul that my mother gave to the School of Education for many years. I hope my influence on this council will honor the great work of my mother and the many educators, past and present, who have provided exceptional student experiences leading to excellent educators. I am truly honored to serve on this council.”

Meeting the Demands of Today’s Schools

Jay is among the educational leaders from across Kansas and Missouri on the council. The committee’s primary purpose is to establish touchpoints with educators from the smallest to the largest schools in rural, suburban, and urban areas and to seek input from a wide variety of districts to ensure that Baker’s educational offerings are meeting the demands within the schools.

“The council provides feedback and suggestions and reviews our current academic offerings and potential areas for expansion,” said Dr. Matthew Bice, vice president of academic affairs.

The advisory council was created shortly after Baker’s School of Education formed in 2005 to build better relationships with the districts throughout Kansas and Missouri known to hire Baker graduates.

The council’s priorities include reviewing programs, providing feedback from the employer perspective, serving as a sounding board for ideas, and identifying gaps and educational offerings to fill those gaps, Bice said.

Giving Back to Baker

Jay appreciates that Baker is interacting with alumni.

“It was exciting to sit and visit with outstanding Baker alumni and an even greater honor to be asked for feedback focused on staying relevant and impactful for future years,” he said. “This meeting led to an invitation to serve on the Education Advisory Council. I was happy to accept this invitation to give back to the university and program I love and value dearly.”

Before becoming superintendent, Jay was executive director of operations at Platte County. He held leadership roles in the Raymore-Peculiar School District, including high school assistant principal and director of support services and assistant superintendent of administrative services. He also served as an assistant principal and activities director at Harrisonville (Missouri) High School.

“I certainly feel my years of experience in education have given me a unique perspective on the current state of education and what future trends look like,” Jay said. “I am hopeful my experience coupled with that of others on the advisory council provides a venue for meaningful conversations supporting Baker’s vision for the future.”

Developing Exceptional Educators

A testament to the strength of Baker’s School of Education is its long history of preparing educators who are recognized for their leadership in their schools and districts.

Six graduates of Baker’s School of Education received honors for the 2023-24 academic year.

Todd DainTodd Dain, EdD ’15, Principal of the Year, Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals

Dain completed his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership as a member of cohort 12. He serves as the principal of Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas.



Ileana Farney, MSSL ’04, EdD ’23, Administrator of the Year, Latinx Education Collaborative

Farney completed her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership as a member of cohort 22. She serves as the principal of Central Middle School in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.


Michelle HubbardMichelle Hubbard, EdD ’09, Kansas Superintendent of the Year, Kansas Superintendent Association

Hubbard completed her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership as a member of cohort 3. She is the superintendent of the Shawnee Mission School District.


Kenny RodrequezKenny Rodrequez, EdD ’17, Missouri Superintendent of the Year, Missouri Association of School Administrators

Rodrequez completed his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership as a member of cohort 12. He is the superintendent of the Grandview, Missouri School District.


Alisa Seidelman

Alisa Seidelman, EdD ’14, Administrator of the Year, Greater Kansas City School Counselors Association

Seidelman completed her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership as a member of cohort 14. She serves as the Kentucky Trail Elementary School principal in the Belton, Missouri School District.



head shotZachary Shoemaker, BME ’20, Young Choir Director of the Year, Northeast Kansas Music Educators Association

Shoemaker teaches vocal music at Clark Middle School in Bonner Springs, Kansas.




Written by Steve Rottinghaus, ’14 MSM

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