El Dorado educator receives state teaching award

Julie Anderson

El Dorado High School teacher Rob Klem loves his job, and his students enjoy his teaching methods. That combination earned him a Kansas Horizon Award.

Klem received the phone call from the commissioner of education informing of his award Tuesday afternoon at school.

“It’s nice to be recognized by my peers,” he said. “I’m grateful my effort is noticed.”

He was nominated by the school district administrators to apply for the award. The application process included an essay from Klem about his instructional skills, as well as his original essay. It also included an essay from the principal on Klem’s interaction with students, effective communication and a building administrator recommendation, as well as two reference letters about Klem.

McClendon wrote, “Rob Klem has a desire to see students succeed, and has shown outstanding teaching skill in the classroom. His use of technology has placed him in the top echelons of teachers in our building....Students engage in authentic learning experiences in his classroom that translate into real world application.”

Klem is in his second year of teaching at EHS.

“You meet so many different people,” here he said of what he likes about EHS. “There is a general warmth here I like.”

He decided to go into teaching because he thinks “a person’s value in life is determined by their affect on others.

“I’d say I’m a people person. I like to get to know people.”

Klem teaches history and economics.

During his classes he uses a variety of strategies, including technology, music and real-life applications.

“I use additional methods to help vary my lessons, however, I get the best results when I use things that students can relate to and feel connected to,” he wrote in his essay. “As a social studies teacher, I think it is important to relate the culture of the time period being studied to gain a better understanding of that era.”

McClendon went on to talk about Klem’s communication tactics. In addition to e-mail, which is widely used with PowerSchool, the online student management system, he still relies on actual conversations with parents.

“...this separates him from many other teachers,” he wrote. “Rob believes it is important to call a parent who has e-mailed. This takes more time, but is more effective....Effective communication is also done with the student. Rob uses our seminar period to bring in students to discuss their academic situation in his classes. Aside from this, Rob has made it a point to stay late to work with students, keep students to discuss critical situations and give up personal or other professional time to discuss important topics with his students, regardless of whether these topics are of an academic or personal nature for the student.”

The students also appreciate his methods.

After hearing of his award, his class applauded his accomplishment.

“We actually have discussions as opposed to just lectures,” one student said.

“He likes to talk,” another added.

Klem is one of 32 teachers to receive this award state wide.

He will be recognized, along with the other winners, at a special luncheon on Feb. 22 in Topeka.

He also will be invited to join the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN), a network of educators from around the state who have been formally recognized for exemplary performance, meeting in Topeka.

The Kansas Horizon Awards are sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education. The award recognizes exemplary first-year educators.

El Dorado Times