This one’s for you, Bob Springer

Bob Springer, Kauai’s youth thanks you. And so do their parents. You brightened and sharpened minds, for sure, but even more important, you helped mold young people into caring, responsible, creative adults who have impacted their communities for the better.

After 17 years as headmaster of Island School, Springer is retiring at the end of this school year. His influence has touched the lives of thousands of students who have come and gone through the private school. And while the well-known academic program there has demanded the best of students, it was the social side, the human touch, that Springer emphasized, as well.

Consider the 6 Rs at Island School: reliable, responsive, respectful, responsible, reflective and resilient. Nothing in there about grades. These aren’t the 3 Rs we’re all familiar with — reading, writing and arithmetic. The 6 Rs are about developing characteristics that will serve anyone well through their lifetime.

“We develop human potential,” Springer told the The Garden Island in a previous interview.

“Schools are places to change behavior. And if you’re not doing that, you’re not doing your job,” he said.

Springer guided the school’s growth. In his first year, 1997, the student population was 169. This year, there are about 375 in the school that covers grades K-12. The ratio of teachers to students at the high school level is one to nine.

On average, students score in the upper two-thirds nationally. It has teachers with degrees from 40 schools. Last school year, more than $736,000 in college scholarships were offered to 31 of their graduates.

Springer, whose career in education spanned 55 years, has long led by example. He has taught music, history, social studies, philosophy and humanities. He has testified before the legislature in Washington, D.C. on behalf of educational opportunities for keiki. He has sought and welcomed change and challenges and instills such spirit in his staff and students.

“I think the dullest thing you could do would be a job where you’re not learning anything new,” Springer said.

No one will ever say Bob Springer wasn’t always learning and urging others to do the same.

And he has never been one to seek the spotlight for his school’s success.

That’s why he will probably feel a little uneasy during Thursday’s retirement celebration at Island School to honor him. He wants teachers to receive any accolades.

“My job is to not get into the spotlight. It’s teachers who matter,” he said.

Sorry, Bob. But this one’s for you.

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