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New director announced for KAMS program at FHSU

7/17/2014

Special to The Hays Daily News

Special to The Hays Daily News

After five years as the associate director of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University, Roger W. Schieferecke has been named director, taking over for Ron Keller, who retired in May.

"I understand the culture of FHSU and have developed positive relationships with faculty and staff across campus," Schieferecke said. "I accepted the director position because I believe I can continue the progress that the academy has made since its inception."

Keller retired from the position after 40 years in education -- six of those with KAMS.

Will Burns, former school counselor at Hays Middle School, is the new assistant.

Schieferecke received his bachelor's and master's degrees in communication in 1995 and 1998, respectively, from FHSU. He then worked in the admissions office for seven years before moving to Louisiana.

After three years, Schieferecke returned to school full-time and earned his doctorate in 2009 from the University of South Dakota-Vermillion.

While an adjunct instructor at South Dakota, Schieferecke developed an online interdisciplinary education and action course that incorporated service learning and focused on worldwide poverty and social justice.

"I led an 'alternative spring break' trip where I took 10 students to San Francisco, and we worked with the homeless, women with HIV and school children. I also led several weekends of service where we worked on Indian reservations, community gardens, inner-city youth centers, etc.," Scheiferecke said.

"Working as the associate director and academic advisor, I understand the issues that our students face as younger students in a college environment. I understand the developmental process that our students go through and therefore can implement the support services needed to ensure their success."

"Roger has been a great asset to the KAMS program," said Gavin Buffington, chairman of the Department of Physics.

Buffington worked with Scheiferecke on the curriculum requirements for the program.

"I am very pleased that he is now the director of the program," Buffington said. "Roger has a clear and focused vision with respect to making the KAMS program a center of excellence. I look forward to working and learning with future KAMS students, the talented KAMS staff and of course, Roger."

Prior to coming to FHSU, Burns spent three years as a fourth-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School and then four years as a counselor at Hays Middle School.

Burns received a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's in school counseling from FHSU.

"As a graduate of FHSU, I have a high regard for the people that work here at FHSU and the quality of education that FHSU provides to all of its students," Burns said. "As a school counselor, I have always been excited to work with students on college and career exploration. This new position as assistant director of KAMS will allow me to do just that. I will be able to use my previous knowledge and experience in school counseling to provide support services for the KAMS students."

Burns hopes working with the KAMS students will allow him to build a professional relationship, so he can aid them in developing a plan for their future.

"If you can build a working relationship, you can help students explore and prepare to reach their future goals."

Both Burns and Schieferecke expressed how the KAMS program benefits the FHSU community.

"It brings some of the best and brightest that Kansas has to offer to the FHSU campus," Burns said. "The international component is a huge benefit to the FHSU community, because it provides KAMS and traditional FHSU students an opportunity to learn about diversity, culture and the world outside of Hays."

"The KAMS program benefits the FHSU community in numerous ways," Schieferecke said. "One of the more obvious ways is through leadership positions in organizations across campus. From the inception of the academy, our students have been actively engaged in student organizations."

KAMS students are also tutors through the Kelly Center and various departments and involved in band and choir.

This fall, the sixth KAMS will begin work.

Students at the academy complete the last two years of high school and earn a minimum of 68 hours of college credit in an advanced curriculum. Students in the program average 75 hours of college credit earned.

The Kansas Academy is one of 16 such academies around the country, and its aim is much the same as similar programs: Keep talented young people in state by providing a rigorous academic environment, thus stopping an out-migration of highly ambitious and accomplished young people. In the process, the economic future of the state is also brightened.

Prospective KAMS students must have completed at least two years of high school with distinction in mathematics or science. However, outstanding academic achievement is not the only criterion for acceptance; KAMS selects students based on drive, interest, maturity, stability, and personal and family commitment.

The Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science is still accepting applications for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.

Applications and more information on the program can be found at www.fhsu.edu/kams.