Brad Welle was gaining leadership skills as a teenager and didn’t realize the experience would benefit him later in life.

When he was in Boy Scouts, he eventually became a patrol leader, a junior assistant scoutmaster and a camp director.

“There was a lot of leadership development there,” Welle said. “I didn’t realize it at the time. I was just having a good time. Those were some important early experiences.”

Welle inow is the deputy superintendent of the Grain Valley School District, and he is heavily involved in the community. He received the Mary Strack Community Advocate Award in 2018 for his large role with Bright Futures Grain Valley, a network of more than 1,200 regional businesses, civic and faith-based groups and people who work together to respond to the basic needs of children in Grain Valley.

He also volunteers, serving on the board of Kansas City Young Audiences and the Eastern Jackson County Youth Court. He’s also on the steering committee of Grain Valley Youth Engagement Services and is the president of the Grain Valley Parks board.

Because of his heavy involvement in the community, Mayor Mike Todd nominated Welle as Grain Valley’s Citizen of the Year, an award given by the Truman Heartland Community Foundation later this month.

“I was stunned,” Welle said of when Todd informed him that he was receiving the honor. “I was speechless. I hope I didn’t give him the wrong impression. It was very generous of him.”

The Iowa State graduate started as a paraprofessional for Liberty Middle School before becoming a social studies teacher for four years. He was an assistant principal at Franklin and Manor Hill elementary schools. He was the first principal at Shoal Creek and Warren Hills Elementary Schools.

Because of his experience being an administrator at new schools, he also eventually landed a job as the principal of Sni-A-Bar Elementary School in Grain Valley, which jump-started his path to becoming an assistant superintendent in 2011.

“That was a chance for me to branch out and trying something different,” Welle said. “(Former Superintendent) Dr. (Roy) Moss hired me to be assistant superintendent, and I was responsible for academics for five years. Now I am responsible for community outreach programs.”

Bright Futures Grain Valley, a program in its fifth year, is one of those. Those involved with the program help identify students in need of basic supplies like clothes, food, toiletries, etc.

The program partners with non-profit organizations to help provide those items to students in need. Focus For Grain Valley is one of those that helps the district provide shoes.

“Not a lot of people knew they were available,” Welle said of Focus For Grain Valley. “Through Bright Futures, we identified needs that weren’t being met and we were able to shine a light on Focus For Grain Valley and the Grain Valley Assistance Council.”

“We’re just a coordination agency. As deputy superintendent, I just make sure every knows what the needs are and that everyone knows what the resources.”

Bright Futures also helps provide food for the weekend for students which includes items which children can prepare themselves. It also works with a non-profit called Giving The Basics, which gives donations of personal hygiene products. Last year, the program made posts on Facebook asking for bed donations and the district was able to help out eight students.

“The needs are usually meet in 45 minutes when we post on our Facebook page,” Welle said. “We weren’t sure what to expect at first. We got a response pretty quickly for our first request. I couldn’t believe it.”

“Later on, (a non-profit organization called) Heavenly Peace helped out with the rest of our orders. They build bed frames and get donations for mattresses. They are now a part of our network.”

In the near future, Welle said he has a goal to expand part of the Bright Futures program that has an adult “buddy” eat lunch with elementary students who “could use interaction during the school day,” he said.

“We want people who are adult role models, someone aside from someone who holds them accountable,” Welle said. “We have about 20 volunteers and we want to grow that to 40.

“I have lunch with my buddy every other Monday. I talk about whatever he wants to talk about. I am a deputy superintendent, but we don’t talk about whether he’s been in trouble or not. We talk about the new video games he has or the dog he’s taking care of. I am there to be another adult connection for him. I like to think it makes a difference in his life.”