Kleopfer expanding his horizons


The award for most people crammed into Principal Fager’s office goes to … the IHS band’s wind ensemble. More importantly, though, the Horizon Award, an honor given out annually to only 32 new teachers in the state of Kansas, goes to … Matt Kleopfer.
On Jan. 9, state Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker made the surprise announcement over the phone in a crowded principal’s office. The Kansas Cable Communications Horizon Award, which is based on a teacher’s achievement during his or her first year of teaching, makes Kleopfer part of the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN).
Kleopfer was to be recognized with the rest of the Horizon Award recipients and a number of honoraries at a special lunch during the KEEN conference this week.
Kleopfer was selected for excellence, achievement and focus on helping students to reach their potential, both in and out of class.
“Mr. K is so passionate about what he does and helping us succeed that he won’t even go home to see his daughters,” says Braden Plumlee, a freshman saxophone player and band veteran. “He will sleep in his office or in his car so he can get up early and get back to work, helping us get better.”

During the school day, Kleopfer shares his passion for music with middle school students, then turns around and does the same at the high school. He leads several separate ensembles at any given point throughout the year.
“These new educators have taken on the challenge of helping all of our students learn to their fullest potential,” DeBacker remarked in announcing the Horizon awards. “… I am heartened by … their commitment to making a difference in the lives of their students.”