By Cathy Lirette
Ed Kappeler accepted his Teacher of the Year certificate to a standing ovation May 17.
Students, co-workers, parents, friends and family members applauded ferociously as the Pacific High School English/Language Arts teacher took to the PHS auditorium stage and addressed the audience during the Meramec Valley R-III School Board meeting.
Kappeler was chosen as Teacher of the Year from 15 nominees of the district’s 235 certified teachers. Of those 15 nominees, 11 qualified as Teacher of the Year candidates. Out of those 11, the school board narrowed it down to six that qualified as finalists. On April 12, the board choose and named the 2017 Teacher of the Year.
Kappeler is the first male to ever win this award since the award program began 20 years ago, the same year that Kappeler was hired.
Kappeler graduated from Syracuse University with Bachelor’s of Arts and English. He then received his teaching certificate from Ducain University. He then began his career in Baltimore County where he taught for four years before coming to Meramec Valley R-III.
Kappeler was hired on Aug. 18, 1977, by the then (and current) Superintendent Dr. Ed Hillhouse. Since then he has worked as the English Language Arts teacher and helped grow the speech team from a small club to a team that is known and respected statewide.
As Kappeler began his acceptance speech, he referenced the last play he directed in the PHS auditorium, “It’s a Wonderful Life – A Life Radio Show.” He shared how the movie was essentially about how George Bailey and how he was saved from personal and financial ruin by the ones who loved him. He explained that it was about one person’s life and how it affected some many other’s lives.
But Kappeler wanted to reverse the role and talk about everyone who affected his live and helped him on the journey to being nominated Teacher of the Year. He started by thanking parents Sherly and the Rev. Edward Kappeler for the love of literature, music and theater that eventually led him to his professional career. Then he thanked some of his teachers and mentors and went on to talk about several of his fellow colleagues.
In addition, he showed appreciation to the administrative staff, Principal Tom Savage, co-teacher Emily Devine, wife Diane and his former and present students.
“A teacher can only be considered by the performance of his or her students,” Kappeler said. “I have been blessed over the years to have some great students and I would be remiss to accept any awards without them with me.”
At that, he had all his students in the audience come up on stage and accept the award with him.
To end his speech, Kappeler referenced former Superintendent Randy George and how he inspired so many. He shared some of George’s famous sayings including “Remember where you came from.”