Student Nomination Story

Mr. Koepke is the teacher who most reflects the qualities I hope to one day have myself. He is encouraging, proven by his numerous emails congratulating me on academic as well as personal achievements. Correspondence during trips made me look forward to returning to school. The connections he makes with each and every student in his classes despite his limited free time amaze me every day. His flexibility to adapt to any situation thrown at him confirms what I already know: Mr. Koepke goes above and beyond, setting the bar extremely high for his fellow teachers. Compassion comes naturally to him, considering how quickly he pulled up a video of funny animal fails when I was having a hard day, and I left his class with a completely different attitude than when I entered. He personalizes every experience and every lesson, frequently asking for feedback and adjusting to fit the current needs of the class. During the long stretch between Christmas and Easter break, while I was Mr. Koepke’s teacher’s assistant, he started his 9th grade English class with Wits or Wagers, a competitive game that was crucial in developing a positive atmosphere before learning. I witnessed first-hand the ease with which he garnered respect and appreciation from students in the early morning hours of the day. He was even selected by last year’s senior class to give a speech at the graduation ceremony, the highest honor he could have received from them. He and I brainstormed ideas to make sure he would influence the seniors in the best way he could, and the result was phenomenal; a speech tying together his love for Marvel superheroes and the courage displayed by his students brought immense emotion to all in attendance. One of my favorite memories of him took place outside of the school environment, showing that his connections to students extend beyond the walls of his classroom. Junior year, I had invited him to my softball game after talking about how excited I was to play that night, and he told me he would try his best to come. When I was up to bat for the first time that game, I glanced at the fan section and spotted Mr. Koepke sitting with his whole family. So appreciative that he was there to support me, I was determined to impress him, and I did just that, hitting my first double of the season. At second base, I looked back at the stands to find him, seeing immediately that he was giving me a huge smile and a thumbs-up, and this earned its spot as one of my all-time favorite moments. I often recall that instance of true happiness when faced with a hard decision or difficult task, knowing that either way, Mr. Koepke would be proud of me. This is the impact he has had on myself and many others, a withstanding legacy of inspiration transcending the confines of academic life.

Shannon Damuth

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.