Before Sporting's match against the Colorado Rapids on Sept. 21, Preston Hickert, a sixth-grade teacher and cross country coach at Heritage Middle School (HMS) in the Liberty School District, was honored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) and Sporting KC as a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan.
“Preston Hickert’s heart for the kids at Heritage Middle School is evident through his actions inside the classroom and out,” said Christina Lively, Department Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Blue KC. “Through his influence and example, kids are not only being shown that they are valuable, but also learning how to be kind to others and care about their community."
In just his third year of teaching, Hickert has made a positive impact on nearly every student at HMS through his roles as a teacher, student council advisor and cross country coach. He works to make his classroom welcoming, friendly and fun and also invests time outside the classroom playing basketball with kids after school, cheering them on at sporting events and attending band concerts and other events.
“It’s all about relationships,” said Hickert, who is originally from Independence, Mo. “When kids know you care, they will be more willing to do more for you. I love seeing my kids every day and then seeing them grow throughout their time in our building.”
Passionate about both personalized learning and project-based learning, Hickert volunteered to serve as the lead teacher for a new pilot program at HMS called “HMS by Design.” Through the program, Hickert leads the way as he and his team encourage and equip the community of learners to design their own future by exploring authentic real-world experiences. The goal is to empower students to make a contribution in the local and global community.
Already recognized by faculty, staff and parents for his ability to get the most out of students, Hickert was also recognized publically by the Missouri Association of Student Councils as the Missouri Middle School Advisor of the Year for his impact on young student-leaders at the school, district, state and national levels.
As a self-described “kindness advocate,” Hickert works daily to model the characteristic for kids and peers. His aim is to show the students that it is “worth it to be kind, offer grace and still be relentlessly passionate about what you are pursuing.”
Said Hickert, “My advice to them is to be kind, make good choices and take advantage of every opportunity you have to get involved in your school community.”
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 Hickert who are making a positive impact on their schools and in their communities. No further honorees will be recognized during the 2019 season, but nominations are being accepted for 2020. To nominate, visit SportingKC.com/BlueKC.