Debra D. Peppers

High School English, Speech, Debate, Theater
St. Louis, Missouri
Years in current position: 25
Total years as a classroom teacher: 25

One of Peppers’ original plays, “Choices,” dealing with teen issues
such as peer pressure, eating disorders, drugs, teen pregnancy, and
suicide was purchased by Southwestern Bell Telephone and made into a
nationally distributed documentary, which eventually won an Emmy Award.

Peppers considers her drama and speech classes a “dress rehearsal”
for real life experiences. Her classes create, direct, and produce
original public service announcements on literacy, child abuse,
alcoholism, and school dropouts.

She designed a “zero hour” (before school) credit class in technical
theater that stemmed from a district mini-grant and now has a two-year
waiting list.

Each class is allowed to select its own six-week project. Students
originate ideas such as developing workshops to include the middle
school, ecology play for elementary schools, library instructional
videos, lunch time cafeteria performances, and co-projects with other
schools. She wrote a play called “Act Your Age” and cast 25 students
with 25 senior citizens from the area.

Fifteen years ago, Peppers chaired the Teachers for Lindbergh
campaign to pass a bond issue to build a new multi-million auditorium
and has served as the auditorium manager ever since. She believes
teachers must never forget that public schools are for the public and
everyone must take ownership.

“Had she not been able to see beyond my teenage glasses, braces,
inferiority complex and emotional instability, my life would be very
different today. . .She did for me what she has done for many others who
have tumultuous teen years; she encouraged, listened, and always
understood.” 
— Linda Underwood, former student, now a teacher in Botswana, Africa

“Debra has served on practically every committee, volunteered for
every workshop, spoken at every school in the state, hugged every kid in
the school, and touched everyone that came in contact with her.
Teachers with children at the high school often do everything they can
to get their children in one of Debra’s classes.”
—  Jack Schwab, teacher at Lindbergh High School

Education

1973

University of Alabama, B.A. English/speech communication

1986

Webster University, Master of Arts

1992

Drake University, Extension/Discipline training

1991

Washington University, Action Research

1990

University of Missouri, at-risk training

Teaching Experience

1999 – present

KJSL Radio

1974-99

(9-12) English/speech/drama, Lindbergh School District

1985-92

20+area schools student/teacher race relations

1987-94

50+ area schools, 7-12 teen issues workshops

1990-98

Webster University, graduate instructor in MAT program

1988-98

(7-12) peer mediation/conflict resolution trainer

1989 – present

National Consultant for Lee Canter/Assertive Discipline

Special Recognition

2002

Story published in “Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul”

2001

National Federation of Press Women Inductee

2001

Keynote speaker at the Crystal Cathedral International Women’s Conference

2000

Outstanding Alumni Award, Webster University

2000

Resolution of Honor by State of Missouri House of Representatives

1999

Chicken Soup for Teachers

1995

Missouri State Technology Award

1994

St. Louis Hometown Hero Award

1991

World of Difference Award, B’nai B’rith

1990

Recipient of the Robert Elsea Award: Outstanding Educator in St. Louis Count

1990

Missouri State Teacher of the Year finalist

1989

Kiwanis Golden Rule Award

1989

Emerson Electric Excellence in Education Award