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Learning Forward Kansas director remembered as ‘bright, capable and curious’

Learning Forward Kansas director remembered as ‘bright, capable and curious’

Dayna Richardson dedicated her life to Kansas education. Her list of service to Kansas and its students is long. 

She was an elementary school teacher, gifted education instructor, coordinator of gifted education, assistant superintendent, adjunct instructor at several universities and served in various leadership roles at educational organizations, including her most recent position as executive director of Leaning Forward Kansas (LFKS). 

Richardson, 78, of Hutchinson, died Sept. 25, at Hospice House after a brief illness. 

LFKS is an affiliate of Learning Forward with a focus on improving educator effectiveness and learning for all students. The organization has 538 members throughout 57 school districts in 37 Kansas counties. It impacts 313,507 Kansas students, according to the LFKS website

“Dayna was a dear friend, mentor and colleague to many across Kansas and the nation,” said Jill Lachenmayr on behalf of Learning Forward Kansas. “She was a bright, capable, curious and passionate leader who was deeply committed to teaching and learning. Dayna’s legacy will be the impact she had on professional learning in the state of Kansas.” 

Richardson fully embraced the vision of “every educator engages in exemplary professional learning so every student excels,” Lachenmayr said. 

 Richardson was a charter member of the Kansas Staff Development Council, which was established in 1989. The organization changed its name to Learning Forward Kansas in 2006. Richardson was named executive director in 2015. 

She also helped facilitate the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) Outside Visitation Team (OVT) learning sessions for the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) model. 

Richardson served in various leadership roles at the Kansas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (KASCD) and was selected as the KASCD Outstanding Curriculum Leader. She also represented LFKS with Kansas Learning First Alliance (KLFA). 

She was born Jan. 10, 1945, in Hardtner, to Bert and Polly Ann (Gaddis) Nittler. She graduated from Medicine Lodge High School in 1963 and Southwestern College in Winfield in 1967. After graduation from Southwestern College, she taught fifth grade in Shawnee Mission. She received her master’s from the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC). She also taught in Lawrence before moving to Reno County, where she worked at Buhler Unified School District 313. 

Richardson married Al Disney on Sept. 1, 1979. She is survived by Disney, five stepchildren, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, five brothers, a sister-in-law and many nieces and nephews. 

According to her obituary, Richardson loved Broadway and the theater and was “thrilled” to see Barbara Streisand in concert recently. She also enjoyed large family gatherings, cooking, flower gardening, Diet Pepsi, the color blue, Mickey Mouse, KU and shopping. 

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at Elliott Chapel in Hutchinson. The service will be live streamed here

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Learning Forward Kansas or Buhler Community Foundation in care of Elliott Mortuary, 1219 N. Main, Hutchinson, Kansas, 67501. 

Friends are invited to sign her memorial book from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at Elliott Mortuary. 

 To ensure continuity of leadership, Richardson worked with the LFKS Board of Directors to create a succession plan. Jill Lachenmayr, assistant superintendent of academic affairs for Andover USD 385, will take the helm of LFKS pending official board approval on Oct. 5. Lachenmayr currently serves as co-conference chair/special projects for the Kansas Learning Forward Board of Directors. 

Richardson’s full obituary is available here

“We will miss our friend and colleague dearly,” Lachenmayr said. “Dayna’s legacy will live well beyond her years.” 

Posted: Sep 28, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush
Tags: Death

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