Steamboat Springs When Soroco Middle School Principle Jenifer Hufman called a teachers meeting shortly after the school year began, history teacher Dan Kohler had no idea it was about him.
Kohler recalls a serious look on Hufman’s face, almost never a good sign at a teacher’s meeting, he said.
It was all for show, it turns out, and Kohler was told he had won the CenturyLink Leadership in Education award, which he accepted before the opening pitch at a Colorado Rockies game earlier this month.
“It was pretty awesome,” Kohler said. “I was kind of blown away by it.”
It all started when Kate Krautkramer, a fellow Soroco Middle School teacher and diehard Rockies fan, heard through the 850 KOA radio station that nominations were being accepted for the award.
Krautkramer consulted her two children, who had gone through Kohler’s middle school history courses. Her two boys praised their teacher and accompanied Kohler onto the field to accept the award along with his wife.
“A lot of families came down from my students,” Kohler said. “It was very surreal. The impression I got from being on the field is that everything was perfect.”
CenturyLink honors teachers in categories including inspiration, leadership and involvement. In her nomination letter, Krautkramer lauded Kohler’s ability to connect with students on multiple platforms, inside and outside of the classroom.
The 33-year-old Kohler is in his seventh year teaching history. He said that during his grade-school years, he always loved learning history but rarely had a teacher with whom he could communicate and connect, which is what drove him to choose teaching as a career.
Krautkramer described Kohler as a natural teacher because of his enthusiasm. It’s as much what Kohler does outside his history classes as what he does in them, she said, that made him fit to be honored.
“He’s just this very normal guy who also coaches football and plays banjo and tries to meet kids for who they are, as well,” Krautkramer said. “He’s completely humble. He would never draw attention to himself.”
Kohler teaches seventh grade world history, eighth grade American history and computers courses for all grade levels. To avoid leading drab history courses, Kohler said he invests a lot of energy into projects designed to elevate student interest in the subject. National History Day, Kohler said, is a student favorite.
Soroco Middle School also provides Kohler with the perfect small-school setting to generate interest among students in small class sizes, he said, and it also gives him the freedom to incorporate the side projects he loves so much.
“It’s small, and I really get to connect with all of the kids,” Kohler said. “There’s not one kid in that school that I haven’t at least attempted to make a connection with. It's a real personal connection with the student body and with the parents, too.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll
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