Steamboat Springs An emergency assembly at Hayden High School this week resulted in a big surprise for one of its teachers.
Vocational education teacher Kevin Kleckler said he was expecting some sort of major announcement when he took his students to the gymnasium. He became the focus of the assembly when it was announced everyone was there to recognize Kleckler through Peabody Energy’s Leaders in Education program.
“I’m humbled to be recognized for something I’m so passionate about,” Kleckler said Friday. “It was very nice.”
Among those gathered were students, teachers and Peabody representatives as well as Kleckler’s wife, three children, parents, sister, best friends and pastor.
“I didn’t even know they were there,” Kleckler said. “They just snuck in.”
Kleckler was the second Routt County teacher to be given the recognition by Peabody, which owns Twentymile Mine southeast of Hayden. Hayden kindergarten teacher Laura Voorhees was recognized last month.
Peabody plans to honor those who work in education throughout the year in Routt, Moffat and Eagle counties, where Peabody has mining operations or offices. The educational leaders are chosen by a committee of top educators and business leaders.
“Our students knew that Kevin (Kleckler) was deserving, and we were really pleased to see him receive this award,” Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes said.
Kleckler’s most recognized accomplishment has been his leadership in growing the school district’s vocational education program that offers welding and automotive classes. Kleckler was instrumental in securing $1.6 million to build the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center that opened in November 2008. Luppes said students have been leaving high school with college credit certifications that have jump-started their careers.
Kleckler also has served as the football and track and field coach as well as the athletic director.
With the recognition comes a $1,000 award. Kleckler said he would like to buy something for his home that forever would remind him about the award.
“Maybe I’ll buy a desk,” Kleckler said.
He said he also would consider putting the money into a savings account to help pay for medical bills for his 3-year-old son, Lewis, who has Down syndrome.
According to Peabody, the Leaders in Education program is continuing to accept nominations and is open to educational professionals of public, private and independent schools. Nominations can be made at www.peabodyenergyleadersineducation.org.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com