Emily Harpenau, a special education teacher at Apollo High School, was one of three finalists for the statewide Kentucky Special Education Teacher of the Year Award sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children.
Harpenau was recognized during the CEC annual conference on Nov. 20. State leaders in the area of special education commended Harpenau for her outstanding work on behalf of students and for creating a positive, challenging learning environment in her classroom.
She was touched and humbled by the recognition, giving credit to Apollo High School and the DCPS district’s commitment to supporting educators. “I was truly flattered at the nomination alone, and then when I discovered I was one of three finalists, I was moved to tears,” Harpenau said. “This recognition has recharged my passion for teaching. I am truly honored to work at a solid school within a fabulous district that encourages self-growth and development for students and teachers.”
Harpenau is also the coordinator of the district’s Saturday School Program. Robin Bush, DCPS director of special education, said, “Ms. Harpenau offers supportive, yet firm and constructive guidance for students.”
AHS principal Rick Lasley said Harpenau is a positive influence on her colleagues as well as students, noting her commitment to relationships and communication. “Ms. Harpenau brings energy and creativity to every classroom she is working in,” Lasley said. “Her smile and personality are contagious – the students as well as other staff members respond to her magnetism. She is very dedicated to student success!”
Assistant principal Kyle Brown commended Harpenau’s dedication to exploring innovative teaching strategies. “Ms. Harpenau offers something different every day,” Brown said. “She absolutely differentiates options for kids and their learning styles. She is organized and works to develop positive relationships with parents and students while also mastering content knowledge.”
Mason Head, who also teaches special education at Apollo High School, said Harpenau is an inspirational colleague. “One of her strong points is strategy and interventions,” Head said. “She makes the lesson approachable for each child. Ms. Harpenau is always available and willing to help other teachers; she is the ‘go to’ person for our staff.”