"The Community Nest"

"Relationships are the agents of change." Dr. Bruce Perry

Week 1

Big picture


Hello Gray Hawk families!

This is an exciting time for our community! The opening of a new elementary school is a special opportunity to establish a culture that is rich in tradition and focused on what truly matters - OUR children. We are eager to welcome each of you into our hearts and into the Gray Hawk family. Community is vital to the growth of our children as we know that we cannot do this alone. Serving alongside our parents and community partners is crucial to providing opportunities for our students to grow each day. Our Gray Hawk staff is here with you and we look forward to being a part of this journey with you and your children.

At the end of each week, I will send out The Community Nest to keep you up to date on what is going on at Gray Hawk. It is also a place where you can access our Parent and Student Handbook, District Calendars, and so much more. I would like to invite you to explore The Community Nest and offer any feedback that could help us improve.

There is a lot of information in this first issue so please read through it carefully.

We are looking forward to an amazing year by your side!


Dr. Dustin Springer, Principal


Getting to Know Dr. Springer

I am beyond excited to be a part of the Gray Hawk community and USD 458! I would like to share a bit about myself so you can get to know me a bit before school starts.

I married my high school sweetheart (Kristen) and we have three children. My daughter Hunter is a Junior at Park University studying biology. My middle daughter Helen is a Junior at Mill Valley High School and my son Dalton is an eighth grader at Monticello Trails Middle School in the DeSoto School District. We have a menagerie of animals at home including two dogs, two cats, a guinea pig, and soon Hunter is adding a hedgehog to the chaos.

I have served children and families for nearly 25 years. During that time I have taught PreK, kindergarten, first grade, and fifth grade. In 2016 I became the instructional coach and community school liaison at Merriam Park Elementary in the Shawnee Mission School District. I am so proud of my time at Merriam Park. Through incredible community partnerships we opened the first school-based health clinic in Johnson County. It was such an honor to be a part of that experience! Two years ago I became the assistant principal at Rosehill Elementary and was fortunate to be hired to open Gray Hawk Elementary this year. It is such an honor to be a part of this community!

I have coached girls soccer for the past 15 years. My first team graduated high school in 2019 and included some Basehor grads. I now coach freshman through junior girls playing in the U18 division in the Heartland Soccer League. My Stars keep me very busy!

In addition to soccer, I am passionate about student and staff mental wellness. I believe that when our students and staff feel seen, heard, valued, and loved tremendous academic success is a definite outcome.

Music is VERY important to me. I love going to concerts and exploring new music. I also collect music memorabilia. My collection drives my wife nuts! :)

I cannot wait to get our year started. I look forward to meeting you all in the coming weeks!

Upcoming Dates to Add to Your Calendar

Thursday, August 12 Ribbon Cutting and Sneek-a-Peek Night 5:45 - 7:00 (See below for more details)

Tuesday, August 17 FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Tuesday, August 24 BACK TO SCHOOL NIGHT

Session 1 - 6:00 - 6:30

Session 2 - 6:35 - 7:00



The ribbon cutting to officially open OUR GRAY HAWK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is this coming Thursday, August 12. The Basehor Chamber of Commerce, district officials, architecture firm HTK and McCown Gordon Construction will be on hand to celebrate with all of us as the community is invited in to meet their teacher, drop off supplies, and tour the school.

The Ribbon Cutting will begin at 5:45.

Our friends at HTK and McCown Gordon are grilling hot dogs for everyone and Kona Ice will be here as well!

Immediately following the ribbon cutting we will open our doors and your student can go in and meet their teachers and drop off any of their school supplies.

The event will end at 7:00 to give our teachers time to get home with their families.

Big picture


FAMILY is the most important thing. I repeatedly encourage our Gray Hawk staff to put FAMILY FIRST in everything they do! With that in mind, we are so excited to showcase our school on August 12 and we need your help to create a FAMILY mural in our Activity Hall.

Please bring in a 4x6 photo by Friday, August 27. If you happen to bring it with you to the ribbon cutting you can drop it off with your teacher. Please write your child's name on the back of it so we can check off names to ensure we have a picture of every student. You will NOT get the picture back as will be attaching to permanently to the display. If you want to send in a color copy instead of an actual photo that would be fine. Again, you will not get this photo back so please be aware of that.

Families look very different across our community. If your child lives in two different households please send in extra photos. We would never want anyone to feel left out and we are celebrating OUR GRAY HAWK COMMUNITY!

I am very excited to see how this display turns out as a celebration of our first year together. Big shout out to our building secretary Mrs. Billings for creating the large template of the letters to hang!

Big picture


We have an amazing Parent-Teacher Organization that has worked all summer to get our new organization set up. I would like to encourage you to follow them on Facebook by searching "Gray Hawk PTO 458".

Our next PTO Meeting will be on Tuesday, September 14 at 6:00 at Gray Hawk in the Technology Room.

As a member of the Gray Hawk Elementary School community you are already a member of the PTO. Thank you to our community that attended our first meeting and voted.

As we are a new organization, donations are always welcome. Our Gray Hawk PTO supports our students and teachers through field trips and special events throughout the year.

A huge shout out to our PTO board:

Jen Holmes, President

Abby Miller, Vice President

Kristin Pierce, Treasurer

Michelle Kelly, Kindergarten teacher - Staff Representative

Madison Hubbard, Counselor - Staff Representative

If you would like to reach out to PTO please contact them via email at grayhawkpto458@gmail.com

Big picture

Neuroscience and OUR Gray Hawks

As we begin our new school year, we will be introducing the four pillars of Applied Educational Neuroscience to our students. Applied Educational Neuroscience is not a program that we follow because we know that programs don't change people; people change people! AEN is a framework that we can incorporate into OUR GRAY HAWK school culture that we believe will support the social and emotional wellness of our students and staff and lead to unprecedented academic success.

There are 4 pillars of AEN . The first is Understanding our Brain and Body States as Educators. When we as the adults understand what is going on in our brain and body we are better equipped to work with our students. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on things that make us happy, sad, angry, or upset. We know that if we come to school and we have had a tough morning this can impact our students, but when we use different strategies to calm our brains and bodies we are better able to deal with the things that occur throughout our day and we are more able to be present for OUR GRAY HAWKS.

Co-Regulation is all about sharing our calm with others. When children are in stress or not getting a need met, they can lose the ability to verbally communicate with us. In those moments, children don't need to be punished. They need a loving and caring adult to sit beside them and let them know that they are not alone and we will support them through the difficulty they are experiencing.

Touchpoints are quick moments of time where we build intentional relationships with our students so that they know they are seen, heard, valued, and loved. It can be something as simple as a daily high five greeting in the morning that shows a child you care. This care and feeling of being loved is crucial to the social, emotional, and academic well being of our children and ourselves.

Finally, we can use all of the strategies that we want but we need to teach our students about their brain and the actual SCIENCE behind what is going on in our bodies when we experience adversity or strong emotions. The brain is the most complex organ in our body and our understanding of the brain continues to evolve. Despite being such a complex organ, it is fascinating and kids are drawn to it - even our youngest Kindergarten learners.

Each week I will post a brief video about the brain or neuroscience topic that you may find interesting. I would encourage you to share the video with your child as well. It is my hope that they will be able to share their new learning with YOU and you will see the impact learning about the brain has on our children.

The video this week is a brief video about the Areas of the Brain.

Areas of the brain
Important Gray Hawk Documents

Calendars, Supply Lists and more

Gray Hawk Community Feedback

Think of this as a digital suggestion box. Drop your thoughts, ideas, praise, comments, questions, or concerns here.

Big picture