Blue Ribbon Award

St. Clair High School teacher Robert Prichard stands with 2010 graduate Kate Ippensen, who recently won a Blue Ribbon Teacher Award. Ippensen teaches English language arts in Nashville, Tenn.

A 2010 St. Clair High graduate recently earned an award for teaching.

The principal at LEAD Southeast school, where she teaches English language arts nominated Kate Ippensen for the Blue Ribbon Teacher award. Documents and data of her work had to be collected and entered.

She mentioned that LEAD Southeast school has students from 16 countries who speak other primary languages other than English.

“The Blue Ribbon Teacher award is given to the top 50 teachers (top percent) in Nashville’s Public Schools serving Davidson County,” Ippensen said.

Ippensen did not plan on becoming a teacher. She studied world literature with a minor in criminal justice at Truman State University. She graduated in 2013.

“I had every intention of going into law, but took a year off after graduating Truman to decide which kind of law I wanted to pursue and where,” Ippensen said.

During her year off, Ippensen said she was a substitute teacher for the Kirksville School District, and for the St. Clair School District.

“I fell in love with teaching and applied to ‘Teach for America’ to obtain my teacher certification,” she said.

Ippensen was accepted and placed in the Mississippi Delta, where she taught seventh-grade English language arts and coached track.

She was then offered a job to teach at LEAD Southeast school in Nashville, Tenn. Ippensen said she has been there for past three years as an ELA teacher.

In addition to teaching, she said she has been in leadership positions such as content leader and grade level chair.

“I am one class away from finishing my master’s at Belmont University in English,” Ippensen said.

In addition to the Blue Ribbon Teacher award, Ippensen was invited to have dinner with the mayor of Nashville, received $1,000 and received $1,000 from her district.

Ippensen said one reason why she earned the award was due to her students’ scores. She added that they scored in the highest score attainable in growth and performance on state tests.

“Another factor is that my curriculum is diverse and it aims to reflect the diversity displayed in my school, as well as being scaffolded to reach every student I teach,” Ippensen said.

Additionally, she said her success comes from her “amazing coaching” she received from her mentors including St. Clair High School history teacher Robert Prichard, and from the support from her friends and family.

“I have been blessed to keep in touch with her and from time to time, and be a bit of a mentor to her since graduation,” Prichard said.