Elementary Science Teacher Award Spotlight: Kirk Coppes

School: Ashford ES

Years Teaching: 12 years

One of the things that makes Mr. Coppes class experience so unique is the way that his classroom is decorated. To start, he has an 8-foot portrait of Einstein’s head surrounding his door, and then he has paintings of superheroes scientists (Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man) around the classroom. Nevertheless, the best part of it all is that HE painted all the artwork in his classroom!

He mentions that he gets most of his inspiration from early 90’s punk rock, so his students get to sing and dance around about science every day. However, the biggest thing that makes his class special is the fact that his students are having fun while learning. 

He says, “We don’t just watch science, we do science.” Although they like to dance around and be silly, their main objective will always be to learn science concepts and do well on tests. During class, they work together to build circuits, examine real skulls, and blow stuff up. In other words, they do everything that makes science cool!

 Fun Fact: Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Coppes worked in construction and in the service industry but did not find that very fulfilling. He knew he wanted to do something that helped people, but at the same time, he wanted a job where he could be creative and think outside the box. Therefore, teaching was the answer!  As soon as he started, he felt alive again and knew he would become an energetic, crazy science teacher!

Mr. Coppes feels blessed and thankful to be nominated for this award. He mentions that his teaching journey has not been easy. He was a single dad for a while and sometimes had to work a few side jobs to be able to buy supplies for his classroom because the schools he was teaching at had small budgets. He hopes that all of his hard work will inspire his students to one day become our future doctors, engineers, geologists and leaders.

Some recommendations that Mr. Coppes has for teachers so their students can to continue to be interested in STEM is to “Get out of your classroom and don’t keep all the science coolness to yourself.”  He encourages teachers to go on nature walks and to bring animals so they students can learn more about their surroundings.

He also suggests being friendly and getting other students involved, even to the ones that are not in your class because you can leave a lasting impression on how they view science for the rest of their life. Lastly, Mr. Coppes advices to convey to your students that science is the easiest field to make their life better. Dispel the myth that the only way out of poverty is through fame.  To be an engineer, all you need is a good mind and a strong work ethic. Reading and math are important, but when you add science a student’s life can become amazing!

Mr. Coppes is one of the six Houston Independent School District (HISD) teacher finalists of the 2020 alliantgroup HISD Elementary Science Teacher Award! This award was created to reward local teachers who, through innovative lesson plans that emphasize both the importance and fun aspects of science, are increasing student achievement and engagement.

Five of the finalists will receive a cash prize of $1,300 and $500 for their classroom and the grand prize winner will receive a cash prize of $3,500 and $500 to put toward improving their classroom! Good luck!