When Sue Kupfer retired from her teaching position as an English teacher at the high school, she left a legacy that spanned 42 years with 37 of those spent in the Camdenton School District.
When Sue Kupfer retired from her teaching position as an English teacher at the high school, she left a legacy that spanned 42 years with 37 of those spent in the Camdenton School District. Recently, her teaching career and the gifts she had shared with her students earned a place of distinction and honor when she was inducted in the the Hall of Leaders by the Camdenton Education Foundation as an Outstanding Educational Professional.
In her remarks at the foundations annual Elegant Evening, Kupfer said she wanted to express her sincere appreciation for the honor. “I am humbled, honored and quite frankly delighted to receive this award,” she told those attending.
“To say I was surprised to be chosen as an inductee into the Hall of Leaders is a total understatement. After Mr. Green called to inform me, it really took me several days to wrap my mind around the fact that I was this year's inductee.It seemed impossible that I would be honored for doing a job I loved so much. Honestly, think about it--how many people can say that they had a career of 42 years that made it possible to look forward to going to work. Well, I did,” she said. “My students-my clients- were fun and entertaining every day. (Now grading papers late into the evening night after night got old, but the actual time with my students was wonderful.”
After much contemplation, Kupfer said she have concluded that one reason she enjoyed my career so much is “I genuinely like teenagers.” Trust me, she said, teenagers for all their bravado, need someone to greet them with a smile and let them know they are each valued members of the class, no matter what kind of grades they make, no matter their last name.
In addition to that, Kupfer said the fact that she had outstanding mentors helped her have a successful teaching career. Kupfer credited several former administrators with making a difference in her career.
“The day Dr. Bearden interviewed me he said, ‘I want you in the classroom. I would rather have my teachers in the classroom ill than have a substitute there any day. Nothing productive happens with a substitute.’ I took that to heart. My first principal here, Bud Routh, said ‘ Teach from bell to bell and make sure that the kids know you are doing something important.’ Mr. Worthan told us he hired competent, capable teachers, so there was no need to micromanage. He was always there for us and shielded us from as much bureaucracy as he could,” she said. “Dr. Henry was a brilliant, caring man who always put students first and encouraged us to do the same and Mr. Thompson was always there to listen if you had a problem. Always striving to do the right thing, he was consistently fair to everyone and often served as our moral guide.”
She said she took what they taught her and put her own spin on it and it seemed to work.
So much so that when Kupfer first announced her retirement, she was asked to stay. She was persuaded to continue educating full-time for two more years. After the end of those two years, she continued in a part-time role for an additional four years, sharing her expertise.
Kupfer received her bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and her master’s degree from the University of Missouri. Mrs. Kupfer and husband Bob will be celebrating 44 years of marriage this summer. They have one son, Clay, and three granddaughters, Carly, Annie, and Emily, who are students at Camdenton R-III. Mrs. Kupfer began her 42 years of teaching in Beardstown, Illinois, in 1972, devoting five years toward that community’s youth.
For the next 37 years, she worked the Camdenton students, staff, and halls with her sweetness, quick wit, and command of the English language with energy, “decorum,” “tact,” humor, and unwavering concern. instructed or rather shared her passion for the written and spoken word during her classes that included: Sophomore and Junior English, Children’s Literature, Novels, Eloquence, and International Baccalaureate English, and her most noted class, Grammar. She was also responsible for the Camdenton Student Television Network (CSTN), the daily high school program. Beyond the school bells Sue mentored Lakers as the coach for Speech and Debate, the first-ever Pom Pom Squad, Mock Trial, Project Pass, and Summer School. She also taught outside of the district at the Camden County Juvenile Justice Center and State Fair Community College.
Editor’s note: Honorable Bruce Tucker Smith was inducted as the Distinguished Alumni. Watch for an upcoming feature on Smith in the Lake Sun.