Updated: Sep 5, 2021
Bob Beckham is the new principal for Jayhawk Junior/Senior High School this year. He brings a solid resume of educational experience with him. (Photos by Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
School will begin for Jayhawk-Linn Junior/Senior High on Thursday, Aug. 19. The school has a new principal this year along with a group of teachers and one new support staff member.
Here is a little background on who they are and why they are excited about starting the new school year.
Principal, Jayhawk-Linn Junior/Senior High
Bob Beckham is upbeat as he walks through the halls of JLHS. He greets teachers and staff as if he’s known them for years, and his enthusiasm is infectious.
After serving 28 years at Fort Scott High School as a teacher, coach, athletic director, principal and superintendent, Beckham decided the open administrative job at Jayhawk USD 346 was a good fit and was hired to be top administrator for the junior/senior high school.
Jayhawk Superintendent Shawn Thomas and Beckham's careers seem to have revolved around each other over the past few years with Thomas a principal working under Superintendent Beckham, and now vice versa. Beckham has also worked as a teacher at high schools in Nevada, Mo. and Altoona-Midway district in Buffalo, Kan.
Beckham earned a bachelor’s degree in education as well as a master’s degree at Pittsburg State University. He earned his administrative certification at Emporia State University.
He and his wife, Jamie, have been married 40 years. The couple have two sons, Kiel and Tanner, and four grandchildren, Fynn, Warren, Barrett and Kiegan.
An avid Chiefs fan, he loves to golf. But his favorite thing to do is spend time with his grandchildren.
He said he looks forward to working with the teachers, students and support staff this year.
8th Grade Science, Physical Science, Chemistry and Earth Science, assistant football coach
Although this is Chase Brown’s first year as teacher with his own classroom, he was a student teacher last fall and took a job as a long-term substitute at JLHS last year. In addition to teaching science classes, he will also be an assistant football coach.
Graduating from Fort Scott High School, he received his associates degree at Independence Community College before studying at Columbus State University in Georgia. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in science and education at Pittsburg State University.
He is engaged to Haley Deaton, who is a student teacher at Jayhawk Elementary this fall. An Atlanta Braves and Kansas City Chiefs fan, he enjoys spending time outdoors hunting and fishing and playing with his Golden Labrador retriever, Dixie.
“I am looking forward to growing as an educator and providing the students with a positive learning environment in the science classroom,” he said.
Junior- and Senior-High English, Student Council sponsor
A native of Trenton, Mo., who grew up down state in Springfield, Courtenay Slinkard has been teaching for 13 years with jobs in both Missouri and Kansas.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a Secondary English Education Certificate from Missouri State University. She also completed a master’s in curriculum and instruction at Kansas University.
Living just outside of Fulton, she and her husband, Kelly, have five children ages 9 to 25. Her youngest will be a fourth-grader at JES this year.
“My goals are to establish strong working relationships with my students, their families and my colleagues,” Slinkard said.
Spanish, English as a Second Language, assistant cross country coach
After a 21-year career at Lyndon High School about a half-hour west of Ottawa, Juanita Spitzenberger jumped at the chance to teach at JLHS when the job came open. Her husband, Barry Spitzenberger, has been working at JLHS for 11 years, and she saw the opening as a chance to cut short a long commute.
A graduate of Kansas University with a bachelor’s degree in education, Spitzenberger was cross county coach at Lyndon and looks forward to continuing to work with young distance runners. The Spitzenbergers have one son.
After getting experience working as a substitute cook at JES, Dorothy Avery went a step further this year and applied to be a custodian at JLHS. Her main job experience has been farming, and when asked if she had any animals or pets, she asked if that included her goats, dogs and cats.
She has two daughters and three grandsons as well. Avery said she is looking forward to meeting people in her new line of work.