Retiring After 34 Years

After 34 years of teaching, math teacher Tina Kappler is retiring.


Every child has big dreams for their future. For Tina Kappler, it was becoming a pilot.

“When I was in ninth grade I thought that I could be a pilot, which is crazy because I had never been on an airplane,’ Kappler said. 

The dream was there, but Kappler was not so certain about it. 

“I am so not adventurous so I don’t know why I thought a pilot would be a good thing for a person who grew up on a farm and had never been on an airplane,” Kappler said. 

So, instead of becoming a pilot, Kappler tried something else in college.

“I initially went to college to be a computer programmer. After a semester of being in a room that had no windows and being in classes with all boys, I knew it wasn’t for me.”

After Kappler knew computer programming was not for her, she started thinking about her other options.

“Growing up my high school math teacher was the only math teacher I had in seventh through 12th grade. Ms. Schmidt was her name. I just thought the world of her, she was a great role model for me and so I thought I could be Ms. Schmidt 2.0,” Kappler said. 

Ms. Schmidt’s impact on Kappler is the reason she now teaches high school freshmen. 

“I love freshmen. A lot of high school teachers are like ‘Why do you wanna teach freshmen all day long?’ But you guys are hilarious. Every day is a brand new day,” Kappler said.

Every year, Kappler strives to make connections with her students.

 “That is the best part of my job. Math is great and all but it doesn’t compare to how funny you all are and just the quirkiness I get to see every day. Every day is a new day,” Kappler said. 

According to Kappler, being a mother and a teacher is the best combination to have. 

“There is very little guilt about being a working parent because I was home with my kids on every holiday, every vacation,” Kappler said.

Math is great and all but it doesn’t compare to how funny you all are and just the quirkiness I get to see every day. Every day is a new day

— Tina Kappler

  Now, after 34-years of teaching and making memories, it is time for Kappler to take a step back and reflect. 

“I think I owe it to the students of Lee’s Summit to get a fresh, energetic, young person to bring some new energy into the classroom,” Kappler said.

Wanting to bring a fresh teacher into the classroom is not the only reason she wants to retire.

“I became a new grandma, so just the opportunity to be the kind of grandma I want to be and be involved. I am the only grandma that that baby has and I take that very seriously.” 

Taking care of her grandchild and helping people is something that Kappler wants to do when she gets more free time.

“I know that I don’t have to have any financial worries after this so I’m just gonna go and enjoy my life, be a grandma. I’m not going to worry about my health issues. Then I can go on vacation anytime, I don’t have to just always go on vacation in the summertime. If I wanna go on a fall vacation and watch the lovely changing of the colors in the mountains, I can go do that. Get a little mountain cabin up in the smoky mountains or something, with a hot tub, and just watch the leaves fall, very peaceful.” Kappler said.

In Kappler’s 34 years of teaching, she has learned a lot of things about communicating with her students. 

“Words matter and I think I’ve become more aware that words matter. I’ve tried in the last several years maybe to be kinder, in the words that I choose to use. Because you all are fourteen, fifteen years old, I’m fifty-five. I should be the one who can control the words that I choose to use.” Kappler said.

Even though Kappler has impacted her students greatly, she also thinks that her students have impacted her as a teacher and a person. 

“I think my life is probably even more impacted than you all, but I would hope that I’ve made positive impacts,” Kappler said.