At Sporting Kansas City's home match on Sunday, Merriam Park Elementary School Instructional Coach Dr. Dustin Springer was honored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and Sporting KC as the April Blue KC Sporting Samaritan.
“Dr. Springer is making an incredible impact at Merriam Park Elementary,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Blue KC. “Not only is he helping students and their families make a positive change in their communities, he also is helping them develop into upstanding young men and women. We are pleased to honor him as a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan."
Born and raised in Wyandotte County, Springer started his career as a paraprofessional at the Kansas School for the Blind before becoming a teacher, serving at the pre-K, kindergarten, first grade and fifth-grade levels. Now an instructional coach and community school liaison, Springer joined Merriam Park Elementary in the Shawnee Mission School District three years ago.
“The most rewarding part of my job is coming to school and seeing the smiles on the faces of our kids,” said Springer. “Today’s kids face many challenges that many of us never had to deal with. And when you can connect with them on a personal level and let them know how important they are, how loved they are, and how important they are to you, amazing things happen.”
Through his work, Springer works to make sure the students at Merriam Park are connected with the community and vice versa. He works with the local police department to help facilitate positive relationships between students and officers, and he arranges school-wide service projects that allow both students and their families to make a positive impact on their communities.
Some of the projects Springer has organized have included creating “Bears Care” packages for the military, painting kindness rocks to spread throughout the community and making bookmarks for Literacy KC.
“When we started our community school initiative two years ago at Merriam Park, we knew we had an opportunity to impact the lives of our families in a very meaningful way,” said Springer. “Our focus on developing the whole child and ensuring that the word ‘Yes’ was in our hearts every day has guided our practice and lead to numerous successes.”
Through his influential role in the lives of the Merriam Park students, Springer has a list of life lessons he hopes to communicate and instill in them. Some of his top lessons include…
- Find your passion, and go after what you want.
- Life is way too short, so make sure to take advantage of every opportunity before you.
- Be sure to lead your life with integrity and always, always be kind!
- Be the person who welcomes the new kid and sticks up for others.
- Serve your community.
- Embrace difficulties in your life and grow from them.
- Don’t let things get you down, because you are too strong!
But these aren’t just words to Springer.
“I want my students to see that I try every day to practice what I preach,” he said. “I want them to see that I am no different than they are. We all have ups and downs, but when we can approach life from that perspective of ‘the glass is half full,’ we can really create a resilient mindset that will serve them throughout their lives, both in the classroom and in life.”
When serving as a role model for the students, Springer hopes they see in him the importance of being a quality person and putting others needs before their own. He also hopes to communicate the power of positive relationships.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much you know,” said Springer. “What does matter is that you have a heart full of love, an ear to listen and the willingness to serve your community without hesitation.”
With Blue KC Sporting Samaritans being honored monthly at Children’s Mercy Park during Sporting home games, fans are encouraged to nominate students and teachers like Springer who are making a positive impact on their schools and in their communities. To nominate, visit https://www.sportingkc.com/bluekc.