The Perham Education Association announced its 2021-22 Teacher of the Year during a surprise gathering at the Perham Media Center in December. Karen Zepper was named the Teacher of the Year.
Zepper has served the district for 24 years as a Special Education Instructor. Perham High School Principal Ehren Zimmerman said it is without a doubt that she puts those she serves at the forefront of her work and is a champion for each of these students.
“Zepper has provided a great deal of knowledge and leadership among our Child Study Team at PHS which helps set the direction for the education that will be provided to students at PHS,” Zimmerman said.
Zepper said she was surprised and honored that she was selected for the award. She said Perham has a lot of excellent teachers who are amazing with students.
Perham Education Association’s Ryan Hendrickson said Zepper has always put her students first, been a great advocate for them and is always encouraging them to be the best they can be.
“Many times she will be found helping her students after hours or on weekends and continues to do what is best for her students,” Hendrickson said. “As always, Zepper displays a tremendous work ethic and a level of professionalism that is noticeable to all. Zepper always goes above and beyond for her students and she’s very dedicated to helping them succeed.”
Zepper said one of her favorite things about teaching is the interaction with students and watching them grow from ninth grade to graduation and then seeing them be successful in the community.
“The best feeling is when they realize they can be independent,” Zepper said. “Building connections with students personally and professionally is one of my priorities. I like helping students with their needs but most importantly teach them to become independent in academics and life.”
Zepper went from pursuing a degree in the medical field to elementary/gifted education. She received her four-year degree but went back for a fifth year program and eventually started her teaching career at Sebeka as an elementary special education teacher. She moved from Sebeka to Annandale and continued at the elementary level. She wanted to return to the Perham area and accepted a position at the Leaf Area Learning Center as Director and special education teacher. She has since been at the Perham High School for the past 24 years.
Zimmerman said Zepper is an outstanding team member and very close to her colleagues at Perham High School.
“Her dedication and commitment to education over the years has helped set the culture at PHS,” Zimmerman said. “The work of an educator seldom gets put to rest and Karen Zepper is a true testament to putting in the time it takes well after the hours to support those she works with.”
Zepper said being a teacher is a way to make positive connections with tomorrow’s adults.
“It is a great feeling to have past students reach out and connect with you years after they have graduated and express how much they appreciate the support you provided,” Zepper said.