Director named for Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science: Staffing, recruitment under way while construction begins on facilities for offices, student residence hall

Ron Keller, formerly the principal of Hugoton Middle School, has been named as the first director of the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science at Fort Hays State University.

He is already planning events statewide a part of the recruiting process for students, including a two-day visitation program -- KAMS Preview Days -- for parents and students on the FHSU campus for Dec. 6-7 in conjunction with Hays FrostFest.

"This is my 36th year in education," said Keller. "I have a lot of experience that gives me a good background for this challenge. We think that KAMS will be the premier academic program for high school students. We're going to develop the future math and science people and keep them in the state."

The aim of the academy is to provide students who will go on to become professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In KAMS, top students from across Kansas will have the opportunity to finish the last two years of high school in a college setting, taking an advanced curriculum in which they will also earn 72 hours of college credit. Course work is heavy in mathematics and the sciences -- biology and biotechnology, chemistry, physics, geography, and computer science.

Students will also be exposed to leaders in business and industry through visiting lecturers and speakers and through field trips.

Keller has bachelor's and master's degrees in teaching from Kansas State University, and administrative certification from Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Alva. He came to Hays from Hugoton, where he was a middle school principal. He has been a school administrator since 1985, and over a 35-year career has taught and been a principal in Kansas and Texas.

For 20 years, he has served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Board of the Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals and, from 1997 to 1999, on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. He has served at all officer levels of the KASSP and has eight KASSP awards.

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He has also served on the National Council of the National Honor Society. In 1998 he was named Kansas Principal of the Year.

The first class of the academy will begin in the fall of 2009. The plan is for 40 students on campus to begin. Recruiting is in process, the online application is ready, and the curriculum is now online. He said he hopes to have applications in by Jan. 15, "and from there, we will start selecting students."

"We're already getting calls from building administrators and counselors."
Regional meetings, now being planned, will educate parents, school administrators, counselors and teachers about KAMS. The main challenge, he said, will be traveling and getting the word out.

"We will be meeting face to face with people and spreading the word about the academy. We will cover the state -- all four corners and the middle."

Two other staff positions have been filled. Ann Ryan-Noble is financial administrator and Starla Gano is administrative assistant.

Hiring for other positions is also in process:
--A marketing director. "That's in the final stages," he said.
--An academic counselor. "We're just getting ready to advertise."
--A psychologist.
--A second administrative assistant.
--A residence counselor.
--Two residence assistants.

Another aspect of the academy that is in process is the physical home, Custer Hall, on the FHSU campus. Offices are being remodeled now in the area that formerly housed the FHSU Alumni Association. Plans are to be moved into Custer from temporary offices in Rarick Hall by Nov. 15.

Renovation on Custer's residential section will start in May 2009. Students will live on the fourth floor. "As we grow, we'll start moving down," said Keller.

By Aug. 10 of the second year, he said, "we hope to bring on 40 new students, keep the first 40, and expand to 80."

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