Former student, Zach Thomson wrote a letter to the 9 Teacher Who Care program at 9News. Thomson sang the praises of his fourth grade teacher in such detail that the selection committee thought Replogle would be the perfect teacher to kick off the awards program that runs the course of the academic year.
"Mr. R encourages enthusiasm by telling kids their ideas are great. He helped me conquer anything. He takes the time to study with every child. He tries to find their strengths and weaknesses." Upon learning of the award, the humble Replogle praised his fellow teachers at Bromwell.
"A lot of us here at Bromwell think education is a calling. It's not really a choice. You feel called to be a teacher and you pursue it. You have to pursue it." Steven Replogle teaches writing, math, reading and social studies. He masters the job by using humor, magic and fantasy. He quotes Merlin to make a connection with the children and get them talking about their lives, hopes and dreams.
He refers to superheroes as examples of bravery, courage and kindness. There is even a generous stash of comic backs in the back of the classroom hand picked by Replogle for the children to read. Harry Potter posters decorate a wall of his room. Each of the three tables where students sit is named after the Houses at the fictional Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The kids are either a part of Slytherin, Gryffindor or Raven Claw. There is a reason behind this. It is not just to make it fun (although fun is important to Replogle). "You see the kids in Harry Potter movies doing experiments on their own. I try to get these kids to have some independence and some responsibility too."
At the same time, Replogle encourages his kids to work as a team. Replogle has figurines of the Beatles (easily the most successful musical team) sitting on top of a cabinet. Next to the Fab Four, there is a collection of Rockies tickets from the Inaugural Season.
That modest frame promotes a team that was put together at the start of a season and worked together to make a statement, an impression. His technique inspires the kids and makes it fun for them to learn. "Mr. R. is really happy and cheerful. He always makes you smile, " says former student, Erin McCoi. "The kids in his class this year are so lucky to have him."
Another former student, Mac Meeter most enjoyed his time studying Shakespeare with Mr. R. "He was the best teacher I ever had. He is really creative." Replogle puts on a Shakespeare Festival every year with his fourth graders. It may seem like heavy material but he says, year after year, the children embrace it. Replogle most loves reading what his students write.
"I think that kids have endless surprises in store for adults who read their work." Years ago, he put together a book of his students' poems. The children loved seeing their names and their words in print. Replogle then convinced DPS administration to take the poetry project district-wide. All elementary aged children (K-5) are encouraged to submit work. The third book will be published in November.
"It's not just a collection of poems. It is also a showcase for kids art. We also put it together so the poems tell a story. Every chapter is made up of Kindergarteners through fifth graders.. kids from the northwest.. or kids from the southeast.. but all of these poems together show what kids feel and think about. Their artwork is also wonderful."
Replogle loves the fourth grade. "They still have such powerful feelings as 9 year olds and 10 year olds. They kind of feel like the world is still full of magic. Even though they are modern children of the new century, they still believe in magic. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices."
"I have a lot of work to get through with them and there are a lot of pressures on them to test well and behave well. If we can treat it all with an element of humor, it makes it so much more enjoyable. They produce better work." Replogle's personal style is also jovial but also well planned. His outfits are meant to draw the kids attention to him. His ties offer some hint of fantasy. His feet are dressed in either mismatched or way-out-looking socks.
"If I was a kid sitting on the floor, looking at the ankles of a teacher, I would enjoy it. It helps the kids be more attentive." Replogle leaves his home at 5:30am to walk to Bromwell. He is one of the first in the building at 6am. He spends the next couple of hours, preparing for the arrival of his students.
Replogle has made his career in the Denver Public School system. He started teaching at Bromwell Elementary when his daughter started there. She is now in her 20's. Replogle also taught at a few other schools and then, returned to Bromwell 11 years ago to teach fourth grade.
Back to young Zach Thomson, the student who submitted Replogle's name for the 9TWC award. Zach compares Mr. R to Captain America. "He always saves the day with many awesome ideas for kids to try." "Wow!" That was the stunned and humbled reaction of Replogle. "He was a regular guy who wanted to help out. He was guy with a big heart. That's something I aspire to have... a big heart."
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