Award Year: 2018

Lee Elementary School

701 Lee Street
Manhattan, KS, 66502-3641

(785) 587-2050

Ms. Mindy Sanders, Principal at time of Nomination

Title I School

Manhattan-Ogden Unified School District 383

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To provide a learning environment that develops responsible, productive, life-long learners.

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 13%
  • White: 57%
  • Hispanic: 13%
  • Asian: 6%
  • Native American: 2%
  • Two or more races: 9%
  • ELL: 16%
  • Economically Disadvantaged: 63%
Students participate in a community wide Kids Fit Day.

Students participate in a community wide Kids Fit Day.

Achieving our collective moon-shot Kansas Can vision of being the best student-success school in the world, Lee Elementary is nestled in the Flint Hills of north central Kansas. Approximately 500 kindergarten to sixth grade students, their family support systems and community stakeholders of 55,000+ call Lee home, as one of the most diverse student populations with more than 18 languages and cultures. Lee is focused on foundation skills delivered with the Kansas Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) framework to strengthen core academic instruction, skill-based intervention programs and system-wide protocols.

The Lee team of 90 staff members (24 with masters or advanced degrees) delivering student success includes: 23 highly qualified certified classroom teachers, 12 'specials' teachers, six special education teachers, three reading specialists, building leader, assistant principal, speech language pathologist, English Learner teacher, school psychologist, media specialist, social worker, nurse, office staff, food service, custodial team and more than 25 classified paraprofessionals and aides. Lee's mascot is a Longhorn; and the colors are red and white.

Focused on the whole child within our MTSS model, Lee’s primary goal is to significantly advance literacy, math and social skills with seamless transitions for all students including English Learners (EL) (13%), students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) (18%), non-white (43%) and students from economically-disadvantaged households (54%). The rich cultural mix of students and families gives a global perspective to be #futureready. Due to their location near university, international, and family housing, the EL program is especially active.

Leadership has always been distributed and collaborative to include staff, family, student and community input. Teachers lead professional learning on inquiry, foundational skills and MTSS, not only to staff but others across the region and state. Lee exemplifies district core values: Students thrive in a safe, positive and accepting environment. Students achieve when decisions are data-driven within a responsive instructional and intervention system committed to equitable outcomes for all learners. Students succeed when adults model an authentic, respectful and honest spirit of collegiality, collaboration and celebration. Students benefit from cooperative efforts between home, school and the community.

Lee School was built as a seven-classroom facility in 1953. With several additions, wings and annex to meet growth of the community, the latest bond investment in the late 2000s allows Lee to be a 24 classroom building with a emotional/behavioral program serving the entire district. The school was named for the Lee family, specifically Mary Cornelia Lee, who was a librarian from 1904-42. Her father, J. H. Lee was an Episcopalian minister, taught languages and English literature at Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences before becoming superintendent of Riley County schools. The Lee family's red brick home, built in 1867, was located on the land prior to the school. The bricks were fired in a kiln just southwest of the house. The Lee family affectionately called the property 'Tanglewild.'

One of the oldest activities is the Lee Barbecue each fall since the school opened on Oct. 22, 1953. Lee includes a rich history as a past National Blue Ribbon Award of Merit School in the early 1950s to gain moment in supporting family connections and high standards with project-based learning. Additionally, Lee has many traditions and activities in the past 65 years including: fun nights consisting of games, drawing and cakewalk in the 50s; "TV Free Nights" when students came back to school for alternate activities like board games and talent shows in the 60s; Science and Multicultural Fairs held on alternating years from the 70s; a school store developed to reward students who performed good deeds in the 80s; Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site Grants to study conservation, plant growth and wildlife with school gardens where every classroom had their own plot to grow plants and perform science experiments in the 90s, Tech Buddies as an after-school club where students learned to make a magazine using Microsoft Publisher in the 00s and literacy & STEAM family nights in the 10s. Lee gives students belonging, curiosity, friendship, kindness, confidence, courage and hope.