UncategorizedSports Partnerships
May 14, 2024
7 Minute Read

2024 Blue KC Sporting Samaritan Honoree Mat Vleisides – month of May

Blue KC and Sporting KC have announced Pleasant Lea Middle School teacher Mat Vleisides as the Blue KC Sporting Samaritan honoree for May

For the first 22 years of his professional career, Mat Vleisides served as a charismatic, energetic, and optimistic teacher, coach and administrator. He loved what he did, but decided it was time for a change. This past fall, when he began his 23rd year in education, Vleisides made a pivot that would greatly benefit him and his family when he began his first year at Pleasant Lea Middle School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

“This is my first year as a special education teacher and I feel it is the best educational decision I have made in my career,” said Vleisides. “I have always felt it was important to help kids of all backgrounds learn in the best way fit for them.”

While teaching special education has been a rejuvenating experience, it hasn’t stopped there for the Northwest Missouri State University graduate.

“I also feel sports and activities are an extremely important piece to educating students,” said Vleisides. “That being the case, this is also my first year as a Special Olympics coach. It’s hard to put into words how amazing this experience has been. The student-athletes (at Pleasant Lea Middle School) are extremely driven and have such a great mindset when it comes to competing.”

Vleisides credits his students and fellow faculty members for making him feel at home in his new school. The pride and attention-to-detail they emphasize throughout the school day make the educational experience rewarding for each and every student Vleisides interacts with. Like most middle schools, the wide variety of activities, sports, clubs, and organizations students can immerse themselves into can be overwhelming, but Vleisides’ calm demeaner and caring smile helps re-assure the students of their decisions and educational development.

“So much of the educational journey is learning through experiences, and that includes setting standards that kids will find achievable,” said Vleisides. “They need to know the standards, so they know what to strive for. They also need to learn how to handle themselves when they don’t achieve those particular standards and how to rebound. I have always felt that teaching students to have a growth mindset will help them as they progress through school and become adults.”

Throughout his multiple-decade teaching career, Vleisides has been a firm believer that all students can learn, and learn well. While some may have different timelines or methods for achieving success, all are capable of developing the skills necessary for their personal growth and development.

“I tell my students to never stop learning and to strive for excellence,” said Vleisides. “There is always room for growth in all of the things we do.”

A strong internal support system has allowed Vleisides to pour into his profession and provide top-notch care in his special education classrooms, and to his Special Olympics student-athletes. He’s always gone the extra mile to ensure they create memorable moments, either in the classroom or in athletics. And his family has stood by his side throughout.

“I would not be in the position I am without the love and support of my wife and three children,” said Vleisides. “My family is the most important part of my life and I am so happy I get to share this experience with them and am beyond grateful they’re here for me.”

“Mat has taken the initiative to offer a variety of Special Olympic opportunities for students (at Pleasant Lea Middle School) that have never been offered before,” said Vleisides nominator, Laura Griffin. “Before joining our team, Mat helped Odessa, Missouri become a Unified Champion school. At Pleasant Lea, he teaches both inclusive and self-contained classes, and establishes strong connections with both students and staff. Mat serves as a positive role model for inclusive practices, and demonstrates a commitment to ensuring the inclusion of all students in our school community.”

“Mat’s passion for fostering the next generation has been on full display for the past two decades, and that passion shows no signs of slowing down any time soon,” said Christina Lively, Blue KC Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “His gracious attitude and approach toward educating students, especially in the special education sector, is a quality that we’re honored to recognize at Blue KC. Mat is a well-deserving Sporting Samaritan and we wish him and his family continued success in the future.”

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.bluekc.com/NominateSportingSamaritans.

Blue KC supports the Kansas City community through impactful sports partnership programs.

Blue KC Sporting Samaritan Program

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