Mr. Warren has won the Sam Kirk Educator of the Year Award from the Learning Disabilities Association of America. He will be receiving the award at their national conference in Las Vegas, Nevada this February. Read on to learn more about why our Teacher of the Year was chosen.
For 10 of his 26 years as a Certified Special Education teacher, Benway School students have benefited from Warren Schoepfer’s dynamic teaching style. Mr. Warren’s journey in Special Education began as an aide in a special needs school, igniting a lifelong passion for the field. Benway students struggling with behavior and statistically high absenteeism have consistently attended the 6 week ESY program specifically to work closely with Mr. Warren. This in return benefited our students in countless ways including attending class, earning credits, and preventing a summer slide. Mr. Warren has and continues to demonstrate a commitment to finding ways to inspire, educate, and motivate students. His STEM program has become a tradition with the high school students and something younger students look forward to as they watch older peers test and display their projects in front of the entire school. Some popular events include watermelon explosions, egg drop challenge, Pinewood Derby, elephant toothpaste, quick sand, rockets, and a biohazard cooperative challenge. These opportunities not only build critical STEM skills, but promote a positive culture and climate within the school community. This year we were able to see a group of young girls in elementary school dominate the Pinewood Derby track, reenergizing disengaged youth and fostering resiliency.
A number of students were interviewed to provide feedback on what they like about Mr. Warren and many students advocated for nominating him for Teacher of the Year. Students described him as being, “adventurous, hilarious, outgoing, and encouraging.” One particular student penned an essay sharing this powerful message, “He is always teaching me how to fight my battles without disrespect. He believes I can be so much more than what I am. If I didn’t have Mr. Warren as a teacher .I don’t know how I would be acting. The best thing I love about him is his honesty, he’s always straight forward.”
Mr. Warren is one of those teachers you come across once in a great while. He is popular with students, families, and colleagues. He develops his programming based on the needs and interests of his students with laser focus. For example, his Everyday Law class was established originally as an educational enhancement when time allowed. However, the response he received from his students led him to develop a full program where meaningful discussions ensued, post graduate skills were developed, and the rights of the students were understood. It is imperative to educate students on the most current laws so that they can make educated decisions. What started as organic conversations flourished into something far greater in the eyes of hundreds of his students.
In addition, all of Mr. Warren’s programs are innovative based on current and future needs. His ability to establish executive functioning within the classroom that translates to the students’ lives is unparalleled. His mutual respect, organizational skills, consistency and expectations of the students promote self-regulation and employability skills. Even though Mr. Warren is tasked with the school’s toughest students; he exceeds expectations each time. Rightfully so he prides himself in his ability to relate and get through to students. His pride is displayed in his classroom with a living museum of previous students and their success stories. Students he taught almost 30 years ago reached out to him to express their gratitude and to update him on their successes; a true testament of his impact.
Aside from being a teacher at Benway School Mr. Warren has also been a private coach for many years. His coaching style is inclusive of all persons with varying abilities. As a Track and Field Coach, he has worked with a number of children and adults with disabilities including Autism in the areas of strength and conditioning. As with his teaching style, he meets the individual at their functioning level and empowers them by strategically building each component of their needs.
Additionally, Mr. Warren was selected by the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Leadership Chair to join the team for his influence on the student population at large. He is known by his peers for building character and a growth mindset. Fellow educators who visit his classroom look in amazement as his students are focused on tasks that they themselves were not able to achieve with the same students. He has brought attention and awareness to diversification by presenting a number of professional development opportunities in the past 10 years related to assistive technology, behavior management, and classroom management. His assistive technology focused on evaluating and documenting student growth, incorporating countless apps for accommodating students with disabilities, and creating adaptations.
Mr. Warren’s reach extends far beyond the classroom as his classes align closely with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG), a world-wide initiative. According to UNESCO, “The engineering sector as a whole should embrace the ‘leave no one behind’ ethos of the SDGs and ensure that technological solutions address current inequalities.” Recognizing that the hands-on approach is influential with students who have ADD/ADHD, Mr. Warren promotes positive post graduate outcomes by allowing the students to use these strengths. This, coupled with a strong foundation in executive functioning to empower his students and break the negative cycle of poverty, abuse, and low self-esteem is a recipe for educational success!