Olathe middle school teacher ‘Mr. Buss’ named Kansas Teacher of the Year
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Taylor Bussinger, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at Prairie Trail Middle School also known as Mr. Buss, was named the 2024 Kansas Teacher of the Year during the Dale Dennis Kansas Teacher of the Year Banquet in Wichita.
“I thought that everybody was equally deserving and so, I was in utter shock. Receiving a hug from my dad, my wife, my mom – to me, it’s just more about my community,” he said Tuesday morning.
He was welcomed back to school with quite a celebration -- a parade.
“Seeing some of my athletes, seeing some of my kids in my class, it was just a surreal feeling, it was amazing,” he said.
Bussinger was stunned after hearing Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson and the 2023 Teacher of the Year Brian Skinner announce his name. Several Olathe Public Schools administrators and educators were present and led the standing ovation as he made his way to the stage.
The principal of PRT Dr. Jenna Jones said it was no surprise.
“He’s passionate, he’s dedicated, he really focuses on the whole child and developing more than just their academic skills, developing the whole person,” she said.
This week was filled with ups and downs though. Bussinger said it was one of the hardest weeks his family has gone through as his cousin passed away. They then had to attend a funeral on Sunday afternoon for his wife’s grandmother.
“It was riding that rollercoaster and we got back yesterday evening and so, just time to sit with it,” he said. “I’ve been coordinating with my team all that, so it’s just been a lot in a short amount of time.”
The students make sure the dedication he shows is reciprocated in cheers.
“I don’t know who I am without being a teacher. It’s allowed me the opportunity to figure out who I am. I want to bring that message to teachers and I want to uplift the voice of our teachers and students alike. That’s my goal.”
Bussinger is now in the running for the National Teacher of the Year after winning the award on Saturday.
Superintendent Dr. Brent Yeager said,” He represents everything we want in a teacher and role model for our students. He teaches his academic content with excellence to ensure his students succeed, while also taking the time to care for his students’ wellbeing so they feel valued and heard in his classroom. Taylor, we are all so proud of you here in Olathe Public Schools! Thank you for your commitment to preparing all students for their future.”
“True education is authentic,” Bussinger said in his speech on Saturday. “It’s messy. It’s real. It’s full of energy. It’s full of laughter. It’s full of tears, and it’s full of vibrant passion in which young people are inspired to be curious enough to know who they truly are in the context of an ever-changing world. And young people’s voices should be included in the narrative of what school should be. After all, it’s their future we are preparing them for.”
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