Meet the Class of 2021
Dr. Mark Condon, Raytown High School Class of 1964
Dr. Mark Condon graduated in 1964 from Raytown High School. He graduated from University of Kansas in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a Ph.D. in Literacy Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1976.
His crusade for early literacy began as a classroom teacher at Southwest High School in Kansas City, where he taught English and remedial reading. In 1976, he joined the faculty of the University of Louisville, where he worked for 31 years as Professor of Literacy Education, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 2007. While there, he developed many curriculum programs, mostly at the graduate level, including leading a site-based program for graduate students studying Elementary Education, middle school reading and writing, and literacy instruction for struggling readers and writers.
Mark has made enormous contributions to early literacy, with a career focused on educating language arts teachers, and global literacy development, including national and international partnerships promoting childhood reading and learning. He has facilitated methods to encourage and support parents and children reading together, creating the foundation upon which children can become avid and lifelong readers and learners.
He has also served as a consultant with the Bureau of Indian Education, United Kingdom Literacy Foundation, and the World Reading Summit, working on projects in South Africa and Malawi, teaching educators to write books for their children. He co-founded RealeStudios, LLC., through which he served as Literacy coach to teachers in many Native American communities.
For the last ten years, Mark has served as the Vice-President of Unite for Literacy, a social enterprise created to develop and grow a free digital library, which currently includes a collection of over 500 picture books for children from birth through age eight. He also recruits and coaches bilingual speakers and writes a weekly blog for parents and teachers supporting early literacy.
Randy D. Dunn, Raytown South High School Class of 2001
Randy D. Dunn is a 2001 graduate of Raytown South High School. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Urban Affairs in 2005 and Master of Public Administration degree in 2007, both from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).
During his time at UMKC, he was a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fellow, served as a Campus Ambassador, was the Founding Member and President of the Bloch School African American Student Association, and was a Victor Wilson Scholar.
Randy is the Executive Director of the Missouri Democratic Party and owner of Dean & Dunn, LLC, a consulting firm focused on community outreach and engagement, community planning, and public policy. Previously, Randy was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2012 at the age of 29. He was re-elected in 2014 and 2016.
During his tenure in the Missouri Legislature, Rep. Dunn was Chairman of the Urban Development Committee; Vice-Chairman of the House Minority Caucus; House Minority Whip; and served on the Budget Committee, overseeing the state’s $28 million budget.
Additionally, he served as the Executive Director of Spark CDI, a non-profit community development intermediary focused on economic development in Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa. He also served as City Planner for the City of Kansas City and is a licensed realtor in Missouri.
Randy has committed his professional and personal career to transforming communities into desirable and safe environments with access to jobs, quality education, transportation, and basic services and amenities. His time with Habitat for Humanity, Partnership for Kids, and the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition have all improved quality of life for those around him.
Randy is the former President of Omicron Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He is a member of St. James United Methodist Church and is an avid runner who also enjoys reading; visual and performing arts; and spending time with his family, especially his three nephews.
Cynthia Monaco, Raytown High School Class of 1975
Cynthia Monaco is a 1975 graduate of Raytown High School. In 1979, she received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies, and in 1986, a master’s degree in Guidance Counseling, both from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).
From 1972 to 1976, Cynthia was a Company Member for the Kansas City Ballet. By the age of 18, she was a soloist and the youngest dancer to achieve that level. Unfortunately, an Achilles tendon injury ended her ballet performance career.
Cynthia’s love of dance quickly moved to teaching ballet, and in 1989, she established the Heart of America Youth Ballet (HAYB). Forming the company allowed her to realize her vision of giving young dancers the opportunity to learn the great classical works and to be able to perform ballets such as Coppellia, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and Cinderella. The company has also produced their original ballets such as The Wizard of Oz, The Little Mermaid, and Alice in Wonderland.
In 2001, she opened the Heart of America Dance Centre in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. This studio has over 400 students, including a competitive dance team that includes 140 dancers who compete locally and nationally.
For three years, HAYB has been the recipient of the Studio of Excellence Award from the Association of Dance Competitions & Conventions (the ADCC).
Cynthia is also a Civic Information Member for the Downtown Main Street Lee’s Summit Historical Society and a Spotlight member for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. HAYB donates proceeds from their ballets to the Juvenile Diabetes and Juvenile Arthritis Associations.
For over four decades, Cynthia Monaco has introduced and taught ballet to thousands of people. Many of her dancers have graduated with dance degrees and are dancing professionally across the country. HAYB has now grown to one of the largest youth ballet companies in the Midwest.
Cynthia is married to Dr. Michael Monaco and has two grown children and three granddaughters.
Charles E. Murawski, Raytown High School Class of 1956
Charles E. Murawski graduated from Raytown High School in 1956. After his second year at Raytown High, he was hired as an assistant stage manager at Starlight Theater. That experience led him to be accepted from high school directly into graduate school to study stage design. After graduating from the Goodman Theater of the Chicago Art Institute, he spent several seasons designing for the Muny Opera in St. Louis and for the St. Paul Opera Company.
Charles was accepted into the Broadway Designers Guild for Scenic and Lighting Design at age 22. After teaching for a year at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, he moved to New York to begin his career. He designed scenery and lighting for many on and off Broadway productions, as well as for national tours.
He served as a production designer, an art director, and created pilots for numerous television shows, including The Gary Moore Show, Kraft Music Hall, The Emmy Awards in New York, Melba, the first two CBS Barbra Streisand specials, The Carol Burnett Show, Maude, Different Strokes, The Facts of Life, Gimme a Break!, and Silver Spoons, among many others. He was nominated for five Emmy Awards and won three.
While living in Los Angeles and working at Universal Studios, he developed, set up, and supervised a theatrical prop rental company, which is now the largest prop rental company in the United States.
In 1982, Charles purchased three side-by-side small hotels in Palm Springs, California. He rebuilt the property into a five-star European Country Inn, including a restaurant that won the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association award as “the most promising new restaurant in Southern California.”
During his time in Palm Springs, he was one of the original organizers of the current hotel association. He was elected to the City Council, through which he formed the current tourist council.
Charles moved to Florida where he used his experiences in California to rebuild and decorate the first official bed and breakfast on the sea in an area called Lauderdale by the Sea. A Broward County commissioner appointed Charles to the county tourist board, and he made trips all over Europe and South America promoting tourism in South Florida.
Currently, Charles is a travel writer for a local magazine. He travels all over the world and shares stories and photographs of his experiences. There are probably no more than a dozen countries in the world Charles has not visited. After many years spent inside of a studio, he is now free to roam and explore.
Dr. Rodney E. Watson, Raytown South High Class of 1990
Dr. Rodney E. Watson graduated from Raytown South High School in 1990. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and music education from Northwest Missouri State University, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Webster University, a Ed.S. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in Urban Leadership & Policy Analysis and Curriculum & Instruction.
In his early career, he served as principal in the Hickman Mills and Lee’s Summit school districts. His love for helping urban students took him to the Houston Independent School District, where he served as Area Superintendent, Regional Superintendent, and Chief Human Resources Officer. Houston ISD is the largest district in Texas and the seventh largest in the nation, with more than 210,000 students and 30,000 employees.
Dr. Watson currently serves as the Superintendent of Schools in the Spring Independent School District in Houston, Texas, serving 36,500 students, 38 schools, and 5,000 employees.
He strongly believes that the school district is only as strong as the community and the community only as strong as the school district. Therefore, the district and community must work together to realize collective goals. His tenure in Spring ISD has been a testament to that. Since the launch of Spring ISD’s Every Child 2020 strategic plan, parent volunteer hours increased by 107%, parent organization participation by 51%, faith-based organizations’ connections to schools by 10%, and social media engagement by 218%. His dynamic approach combines the ability to accurately assess current organizational needs with a clear vision for the future, one that aims to make school better and communities stronger.
In 2012, Dr. Watson received the Phi Delta Kappa Leadership Award and in 2014, the University of Missouri Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2017, he received the Texas A&M Dean’s Roundtable Transformational Leader Award and the Achievement through Leadership Foundation, Educator Excellence Award. In addition, he received the Distinguished Administrator Award from the Texas Music Educator Association and the Dr. Thomas Randle Demonstration District Spotlight Award from the Texas Alliance of Black School Educators in 2018. In 2021, Watson was named National Superintendent of the Year by the National School Foundation Association.
His professional affiliations include work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Association of Black School Administrators, and the American Counseling Association. Dr. Watson is the past Board Chair for the Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce and currently serves as the Board Chair for Northwest Assistance Ministries in Houston, TX and Executive Pastor at Wellspring Church International in Richmond, TX.
Dr. Watson and his wife Shanel have enjoyed 25 blessed years of marriage, and together they have four beautiful children: Chandler, Simone, Elise and RJ.