The guest speaker at the Lansing Educational Foundation's annual honors breakfast Friday had advice that he said could serve the teachers, the students and the parents in the audience.

The guest speaker at the Lansing Educational Foundation's annual honors breakfast Friday had advice that he said could serve the teachers, the students and the parents in the audience.

"Seek to be exceptional at whatever you do," Kansas City Symphony Executive Director Frank Byrne said.

Byrne was drawing from his own experience as a musician and later as an administrator for the Kansas City Symphony. Furthermore, he praised LEF for its efforts to recognize those who are exceptional ―students with exemplary scores on state assessment or college preparedness tests, teachers and support staff who were recognized by LEF for their work and Wilbur and Laura Barnes, whose efforts earned them LEF's Lifetime Education Achievement Award.

"The fact that you intentionally choose to recognize the highest achieving students, teachers and volunteers, is a great thing to do," he said.

Beginning in the 1960s, Laura and Wilbur Barnes were fixtures of the Lansing School District. Lansing Special Education Director Mary Alice Schroeger said Wilbur was a teacher and later longtime principal at Lansing High School, also with stints coaching football and track and serving on the board of education. Laura spent 25 years helping Lansing's first-grade students learn to read, write and with basic math skills. The mention of an elementary school teacher, Schroeger said, is still likely to give her pause.

"There are many individuals who feel that pause with the name Laura Barnes," she said.

Taken any way, Schroeger said the couple have left an indelible mark.

"Wil and Laura Barnes are a great example of a husband and wife team who have made a significant contribution, both separately and together, to the educational community of Lansing Kansas," she said.

Laura joked the couple is enjoying retirement, but thanked those in the audience for their support.

"We both feel very honored and want to thank you very much," she said. "This is really great, in all our years working with the Lansing schools, we've had quite a few experiences, that's for sure."

Lansing Middle School Principal Kerry Brungardt said LEF's Secondary Teacher of the Year, Middle school algebra teacher David Smith, was a source of inspiration to him as an administrator.

"Dave continuously works to find innovative methods to enhance his instruction," he said.

Smith thanked those who nominated him for the award and for being an important part of his career.

"We have a wonderful community that has really been responsible for the successes that I've had as a teacher," he said.

Others honored at the ceremony also recognized the people around them.

"The thing that makes it work are the people out there," said Jim Slapper, who was named Elementary Support Staff of the Year for his work directing the student transportation program for the district.

Lansing School Superintendent Randy Bagby credited Slapper with leading the sometimes-difficult work of getting students to school.

"We do quarter of a million miles at 1,200 students per day, and he calculated about 26,000 gallons of fuel" he said. "That's quite the endeavor."

Brungardt said in his introduction of the Secondary Support Staff person of the Year Theresa Kraft that her efforts both in the classroom as a paraprofessional and in LMS's After School Village, help make a difference for students.

"Her never-give up attitude has helped so many kids achieve more than they thought possible," he said. Kraft said she feels she works among the best educators.

"This award I share with all of you," she said, referring to her colleagues.

Cathy Smith, Lansing Elementary School art teacher who was named Elementary Teacher of the Year, also said the community has been a factor in her years of continuing to be a teacher, an estimated 16,000 students later. She said she couldn't imagine doing anything else.

"I teach in order to touch those lives, help others see beauty in the world around, have students grow in tolerance and understanding," she said, before echoing another part of Byrne's message. "I teach because I cannot imagine a world without the arts."