For the past 15 years, Richie Shust has been able to create an inclusive culture within the athletics department at Clifford H. Nowlin Middle School in Independence, Missouri. A two-time Teacher of the Year recipient, Shust has coached student-athletes in soccer, football, wrestling and basketball. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also coached varsity baseball at neighboring Van Horn High School for more than a decade.
“Additionally, I have been a part of the curriculum writing team for the district, and our building leadership team,” said Shust. “I also facilitate professional development for all of our middle school physical education teachers. At Clifford H. Nowlin Middle School, we have both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. Each individual is unique in his or her own way.”
Shust understands the many challenges middle school students face, and uses his kind smile and positive attitude to help them reach and exceed their daily goals. While some of his tactics may seem simple, they’re highly effective and go a long way in boosting the confidence and optimism of those he interacts with.
“I try to treat all students as if they were my own,” said Shust. “I have built many friendships with the staff while here at (Clifford H.) Nowlin, some I even consider my family. I always tell my students to never be afraid to ask for help or advice. You can’t go through life alone. It’s okay to fail, as long as you’re willing to put in the work to correct your mistakes for the future.”
This type of advice and knowledge has helped make Shust a prominent figure in the Independence community. He’s been able to learn and grow while on his teaching and coaching journey, while always looking for outside help that can be applied to his methods.
“While working at a restaurant as a chef, I was once told that you are only half as good as your preparation, and that either you run the day or the day runs you,” said Shust. “These types of standards are the fundamental and basic foundations for character building. I hold my students to a high standard, but it’s one that is attainable for everyone.”
Shust received his undergraduate degree from Lindenwood University and has since been able to receive his Masters and Educational Specialist Degrees from William Woods University. He continues to absorb information and tactics that will make him better, and understands that you can never have too much knowledge as an educator and coach.
“You’re never going to get the most from your players unless a relationship is built,” said Shust. “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
“Besides planning and teaching regular classes, Richie spends countless hours organizing and coaching,” said Shust’s nominator, Carolyn Hills. “He understands that extra-curricular activities are essential to building relationships with students, while also promoting positive and healthy lifelong choices. Richie regularly reaches out to staff, and the community at large, to help provide the needed resources that will assist these budding athletes; shoes, equipment, etc., all while maintaining the right dose of encouragement and motivation to keep students pursuing more in every area of their lives, including academics, emotional intelligence and creating future goals.”
“Seeing the impact Richie has made at Clifford H. Nowlin Middle School is a refreshing reminder of the importance of dedicated, honorable coaches and teachers,” said Christina Lively, Blue KC Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “His optimistic and confident approach helps strengthen the relationships with his middle schoolers, which leads to better grades, more student involvement, and a connected community. Congratulations to Richie for being an excellent role model for the next generation.”
“I would say being honored for the Sporting Samaritan award is my biggest moment,” said Shust. “I have never been recognized in this large of a capacity in the community. I was caught off guard by my co-worker’s nomination and I couldn’t be more excited to receive this award. It still doesn’t feel real.”
Fans are encouraged to nominate teachers and students who are making a positive impact on their schools and communities by using the form online at https://www.sportingkc.com/BlueKC.