Ronald W. Poplau

Sociology / Community Service
Shawnee Mission, Kansas
Total years as a classroom teacher: 36

The basis for Ronald W. Poplau’s decision to choose teaching as a
career was a one-year experience teaching in Brazil, where his numerous
activities for social reform and anti-communism merited a personal
telegram of appreciation from Brazil’s president, Casetlo Branco.

He is inspired by his father, who immigrated from Germany at the turn
of the century. Because of prejudice and fear, he and his siblings
never attended school, which resulted in his illiteracy until his death.
His father relied on family to write letters, read road signs, and make
out his bills. As a teacher, Ron was the fulfillment of his father’s
dreams to free others from illiteracy.

His school through its Cougars Community Commitment program was named
Shawnee Citizen of the Year because of its involvement in all aspects
of the community. They visit retirement homes, tutor in elementary
schools, sponsor dinner- dances once a month for the elderly, provide
gifts for young offenders at Christmas, cook and serve thanksgiving
dinner for people with AIDS, raise funds to help pay utility bills, and
have saved an elderly couple’s home from bank foreclosure. His classroom
motto: The doer of good becomes good!

“What Ron has done by the creation of this program is to leave a
legacy of community care and involvement for generations to come. . . I
can only believe that this will be a better world because of the lives
that have been touched and by those that will carry on the torch of
caring and community involvement. . .he is our shining light.”  
— Beth A. Jantsch, colleague

“Finding a need and creating a solution to meet that need becomes as
common place as breathing in and out for the students participating in
Mr. Poplau’s classes.” 
— Evelyn Ewing, volunteer director, Lakeview Village

Education

1957

St. Lawrence College, Associate of Arts

1959

St. Paul Seminary, Bachelor of Arts

1968

Emporia State University, Master of Arts

Teaching Experience

1969-present

(11-12) social science, Shawnee Mission USD 512

1976-present

Director of Continuing Education, Ottawa University

1965-69

(10-12) social science, Ward High School, Kansas City, Kansas

1964-65

(10-12) social science, Brazil, South America

1962-64

(10-12) social science, St. Paul, Minnesota

Special Recognition

2006
Finalist – National Teacher of the Year
2006
Kansas Teacher of the Year

1997

Wooster College Excellence in Teaching

1997

U.S. Army Outstanding Citizen

1997

D.W. Newcomers: Caregiving

1997

Greg Parker Faculty Award

1995

Sertoma Top Award

1995

USD 512 Employee of the Year

1994

Shawnee Citizen of the Year

1994

Kansas City Star Honor

1993

Kiwanis John Trembly Award

1993

Penneys Golden Rule Award

1990

USD 512 Employee of the Year

1976

Special Armed Service Award

1973

Outstanding Educators of America Award

1972

Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator

1966

Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator

1966

Outstanding Young Men in America