Leading the Way for Children
It didn’t take Ann Roy long to discover Sheila Kloepping’s leadership abilities after hiring Kloepping as a speech therapist at the School District of Sheboygan Falls.
“She makes amazing things happen,” said Roy, the district’s director of student services. “She inspires people with her commitment.”
And now everyone else knows that, too.
Kloepping has been named a recipient of a 2017 Herb Kohl Foundation Teacher Fellowship Award. The awards are one of the state’s highest educational honors and recognize teachers for their superior ability to inspire a love of learning in their students, their ability to motivate others, and their leadership and service within and outside the class. Kloepping will receive the award from Kohl at a banquet in Green Bay on April 22.
Roy nominated Kloepping for the award.
“I was extremely honored. I didn’t really feel worthy,” said Kloepping about the nomination.
To apply for the award, she had to write six essays and obtain three letters of recommendation. She was thrilled to learn that she had been named a finalist in December and overwhelmed when she found out that she had won the award in mid-March.
“I was elated. I was very excited,” she said, adding that Roy was one of the first people she called with the news.
Before coming to Sheboygan Falls in 2011, Kloepping worked for a county program that provided services for children with special needs from birth to 3 years old. She enjoyed the job very much and relished the opportunity to work closely with families in their homes.
But joining the school district staff was a homecoming of sorts since she is a graduate of Sheboygan Falls schools.
According to Roy, it was clear from the start that Kloepping was dedicated to doing all that she could to help her students and their families.
“Sheila reaches out to families wherever there’s a need even if she’s not working directly with them. She wants to be sure she helps children out,” Roy said.
Kloepping was a leader in the district’s Allies in Autism project, a three-year effort to teach district special education staff new techniques for helping students with autism. Staff worked with outside experts on learning different strategies and then got feedback as they implemented them in their work with Sheboygan Falls students. Now that the formal program has ended, Kloepping is one of the staff members who is teaching the strategies to other members of the district staff.
For her part, Kloepping said the program was a “game changer.”
“I work with students very differently because of that program,” she said, citing a technique called video modeling as one new strategy that she has found particularly effective.
Because students with autism process information differently, showing them a video that demonstrates a way to accomplish a task may be more helpful then simply telling them how to do it.
Although the program is over, she is determined to pass her knowledge on to other district staff, not just those who work with students with autism.
“Everybody can be an expert in these strategies. These strategies work for all students,” she said.
Roy also praised Kloepping for her work as a mentor to new staff in the student services area.
Outside of the classroom, Kloepping has been very involved in the local chapter of Kiwanis International. She has worked on fundraisers that have helped support children by raising money to purchase new equipment for a local park and to buy iPads that students with autism can use at home.
Roy said that Kloepping’s commitment to children inside and outside of the classroom and her passion for helping make her a living embodiment of the district’s mission, vision and goals.
“I would say she’s the lifeblood of our climate and culture here,” she added.
A leader indeed.