Teacher of the Year: Ms. Kepke


Ms. Lauren Kepke, 2005 Enloe alumni, was recently awarded the Enloe High School Teacher of the Year Award—and is currently a semi-finalist for the county—for her outstanding work with students in and outside the classroom. Ms. Kepke has been teaching at Enloe for 5 years, first in Special Education, in which she got her degree at Elon University, and now in her current position as one of Enloe’s ESL teachers. ESL is a program meant for non-native English-speaking students; the class is composed of students from Asia, Africa, and Middle Eastern countries. 

Ms. Kepke describes herself as one of the lucky ones since she knew she wanted to teach right out of high school. In her free time, she likes to travel, cook, exercise, and read. “I’m not a big TV person, so I love the outdoors,” she says. 

After college, Ms. Kepke taught abroad in Guatemala, where she soon found a passion for teaching English as a foreign language. When entering the field, Ms. Kepke saw an opening at Enloe High School and appreciated that students didn’t need to be like everyone else to succeed. “I felt that Enloe was a progressive and open community which drew me towards working here,” she says. Throughout her work with both Special Education and ESL students, she believes that the most rewarding part of her job is “the progress that the students make and their enthusiasm.” 

Language is freedom.

— Mohammad Belal Jaji, Enloe Junior and ESL Student

Teachers not only teach, but in a class specifically like ESL, students are learning skills that can be used in and outside of the classroom. “These kids want to learn English, and I’m teaching them something that they will use every day,” she says. Advocating for students is something Ms. Kepke values in teaching: “One part of my job is to advocate and to teach students how to advocate for themselves.”  

Mohammad Belal Jaji, a junior and ESL student at Enloe who is originally from Afghanistan, says that ESL gives him the opportunity to truly express himself and his interests: “Covid-19 became a barrier in my learning English, and it was hard to communicate with my teachers.” From learning the English language itself to adapting to the English keyboard, Mohammad had a uniquely difficult experience during online classes. Covid-19 became a learning barrier for many ESL students, but Mohammad says “Ms. Kepke gives [these students] the opportunity to learn and makes it fun!” Mohammad says that ESL has given him the freedom to express himself in all aspects that Enloe has to offer. 

Ms. Kepke’s dedication and her smile both leave a lasting impact on her students. During her time at Enloe, she says she will continue to “care about [her students] regardless of how much English they learn, and [she] will be their advocate.”

“I want them to see how much I value them and their worth.”