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Retirement means personnel moves

7/21/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

The Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University recently announced staff changes as a result of the retirement of the previous director, Ron Keller.

The KAMS program, which recently completed its fifth year, is a two-year program designed for high-achieving high school students. Students finish the program with a high school diploma and a minimum of 68 hours of college credit.

Keller was hired in 2008 to spearhead the program after working 23 years as a secondary school administrator.

Roger Schieferecke was hired as associate director shortly after the inception of KAMS. Schieferecke recently has been hired as the new director.

"It was an easy transition," he said. "I had already been involved in the program. When Ron announced his retirement, it wasn't necessarily assumed, but it was pretty much expected that I would step into the role."

Schieferecke began his career as an admissions counselor at FHSU in 1995. He worked in the admissions office for seven years before moving to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette as director of enrollment services.

"I did that for several years," he said. "I got to a point where I wanted to get my doctorate, and I was at a point in my personal and professional career where I could start the program, so I did online coursework through the University of South Dakota. At the end of my contract in Louisiana, I quit to become a full-time college student."

He received his doctorate in December, and joined KAMS toward the end of the school year.

"I jumped on board and started helping out with KAMS," Schieferecke said. "That morphed into becoming an academic adviser. I got really immersed in the student development aspects of college, so that's what really attracted me to KAMS. It wasn't about just recruiting them and being done; it was working with them throughout their whole college process."

In his new position, he hopes to continue what Keller started -- to continue developing the talent for math and science in the students.

"My passion stems from seeing students reach their full potentials," he said. "I get excited when I see students presenting research. We have several students who have been published in scholarly journals. We have students who hold leadership positions all across campus. When they hold those roles at 16- or- 17-years-old, that's very exciting to me."

In his five years of experience with the program, he's known every student, heard every story and seen every success.

"It's the student successes I most enjoy," he said, "but other moments stick out as memorable. I've had some students who are good at practical jokes. I've come into my office and it has been full of balloons. I once came into my office and everything was wrapped in tin foil. But the pinnacle of each year is seeing the students walk across that stage."

His previous role was spent mainly counseling students, so in the search to hire the new associate director, he was looking for someone with his or her counseling license and years of counseling experience.

Will Burns was hired as the assistant director for student services.

Originally from Norton, Burns received his undergraduate degree in elementary education and his master's in counseling from FHSU.

He is a licensed kindergarden through 12th grade counselor. Burns most recently worked as a school counselor at Hays Middle School for four years.

"It's the fact that you're working with some of the brightest, gifted and talented students from the state of Kansas," Burns said. "It's a very innovative program, and that's what made me pursue this position."

Schieferecke said Burns was hired for his counseling background and will spend his time as an academic adviser to students.

"I will be giving support to students in any way I can," Burns said. "If that's tracking grades, attendance, college exploration, how they proceed after they're done with the academy."

Although he is still adjusting to the position and learning about the history of the program, Burns said he is looking forward to working with students in the fall.

"My goal is to build that working relationship with students," he said. "As a counselor, you're supporting students, whether it's socially, emotionally or academically. I just really thrive on getting to know people, what they want to do and try to help them to do it."