Brown County Intermediate School science teacher Jeff Lepore attended Catholic school as a child. When his mom picked him up, she would always ask him how his day went.
“I would answer her based on if I cried that day. If I cried, I would say it’s a bad day,” he said.
With that in mind, Lepore set a goal when he became a teacher: “I thought, ‘I don’t want kids to leave my room and tell their mom I had a bad day,’” he said.
At the end of this school year, Lepore will leave Brown County Intermediate School and head into retirement.
Superintendent Laura Hammack said when she taught sixth grade at Nashville Elementary School, she would often hear the seventh-graders talking about the best sixth-grade teacher.
It wasn’t her; it was Lepore.
“Honestly, on behalf of all of the lives you’ve touched — not just the boys and girls, but you have touched this community and adults in this room — we love you,” Hammack said during his retirement reception May 17. “Come back and see us.”
In junior and high school, Lepore worked as a baby-sitter and discovered he liked working with children. Becoming a teacher sounded like a fun idea, he said.
He decided to teach science because he enjoyed building rockets, planes, cars, electric games and “just about anything science-related,” he said.
“To share what you love in the classroom made teaching an obvious choice for my career,” he said.
At the beginning, Lepore taught all subjects, including art and music.
“I realized early on that I was spending more time teaching science than the other subjects and many of the other teachers were spending less time teaching science. So, I proposed that I teach all the science and they agreed. The rest is history,” he said.
“I’m am totally looking forward to retirement, but teaching will always be a part of me.”
Q: How long have you been a teacher, and where?
A: I’ve taught in Brown County for 38 years. I taught a year in Marion, Indiana. I have always taught sixth grade but student-taught second grade.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about retirement?
A: After 39 years, I’m looking forward to just about anything — golf, traveling, Florida and anything without a commitment.
Q: What will you remember most about teaching?
A: I will miss the most kids smiling and the looks on their faces when they get a difficult science concept and are thrilled. I have so many favorite memories, but one stands out the most. Once after a two-week illness, I returned to school. My students made me feel so needed. I cried a bunch that day. … Those smiles meant they were as happy as I was to be back teaching. I remember telling that class I missed seeing their smiles. Smiles reflect feelings.
Q: How would you describe your time at Brown County Schools?
A: My time at Brown County Schools has been amazing. I’ve met so many wonderful kids that are now adults. I always appreciate it when adults come up to me and say, “Remember me?” I may not remember names, but faces I don’t forget. I love BCS. It’s a great place to learn and grow.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a new teacher?
A: Kids are amazing. Respect them as individuals. Get to know them. Every one is different.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Just to thank the wonderful administration and teachers throughout the years who supported me in teaching science. And thanks always to the wonderful families I was able to know. Brown County is a special place. I will always remember the many friendships and memories I have.