Every year, Daktronics recognizes an educator who is excelling in the field of mathematics. This year’s recipient of the Daktronics Outstanding Mathematics Teacher Award is Mrs. Katie Keppen of the Harrisburg (South Dakota) School District.
Keppen has been a math teacher for 15 years and is a leader in implementing customized learning into her classroom. This allows her students to have an individualized learning experience throughout their mathematics education. Keppen meets with each student to set goals that work with their distinct needs and allow them to master the class content.
“It’s my favorite aspect of teaching,” Keppen said. “Getting to work with the kids and figure out how they best learn and what lights a fire in their brain. We figure out together what makes them want to learn and discover new things.”
Keppen strives for excellence every day as she interacts with students and faculty at Harrisburg High School.
“We set high expectations for the students,” Keppen explained. “As teachers, we always look for new and better ways to do things. You spend a lot of hours, early mornings and late afternoons, to be as involved as you can. I keep learning and growing myself, so I can model that ideal.”
Dr. Kevin Lein, the former principal of Harrisburg High School, commented on Keppen’s exceptional dedication to her students and profession.
“Mrs. Keppen utilizes superior organizational skills, relevant and higher-level assessment, and a contemporary approach to each lesson,” Lein said. “She is a credit to the teaching and mathematics profession. The marriage of skill, intelligence, passion, and genuine interest in her students is truly remarkable and exemplary.”
Keppen finds inspiration from her students’ success. Feedback from parents and students makes an impact on her and pushes her to always strive for excellence.
Zach Schulte, a former student of Keppen’s, discussed his experience in her classroom.
“Her teaching style helped prepare me for the class structure and content of college mathematics courses,” Schulte explained. “Mrs. Keppen held students accountable for work and gave them all the necessary tools to succeed, regardless of their career choice. She is an adaptive, knowledgeable, and compassionate teacher who seeks nothing more than to see her students succeed.”
Keppen’s dedication to her students is obvious to everyone she encounters.
“In the long run, kids are inspired by a sincere person who accepts them for where they are mathematically, as well as where they are as a person, and then works with them to reach their potential,” Keppen said.
The Daktronics Outstanding Mathematics Teacher Award is given by the South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The recipient of the award receives an engraved plaque and a $1,000 award to assist in their teaching efforts with new equipment or in attending a mathematics conference or workshop. The winner is announced at the annual SDCTM/SDSTA Annual Professional Development Conference.
Leah Brink, Daktronics HR and Corporate Recruiter, commented on the importance of good educators in the field of mathematics.
“During middle and high school, it’s critical to have excellent educators to keep students engaged and compelled by the study of mathematics,” Brink said. “Math skills can be applicable to nearly every occupation and field, and mathematics is a universal language, which means it’s globally relevant.”
Brink goes on to explain why Daktronics makes it a priority to invest in the future of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
“Much of the Daktronics’ workforce resides in South Dakota, which is a low-population state with historically low unemployment,” Brink explained. “In order to have the skilled workforce we need in the future, we should continue to promote and invest in STEM educational initiatives, like the Outstanding Mathematics Teacher Award.”
Keppen plans on using the award to invest in new technology for her classroom, such as an iPad Pro, to be able to do new and innovative interactive learning activities with her students. She would like to give credit to everyone who has allowed and encouraged her to impact so many students and would like to thank Daktronics for sponsoring the award and for giving recognition to educators.
This article is by Erin Smith
in Employee Communications.