“People” magazine recognizes Calera teacher

Published 1:04 pm Monday, October 8, 2012


CALERA – “People” magazine recently honored five teachers across the nation in its first Teacher of the Year competition, and a Calera High School teacher made the cut.

Calera High pre-engineering teacher Brian Copes is currently seeing New York City’s sights before attending an award ceremony Oct. 10.

Brian Copes.

“I’m honored, overwhelmed and just in awe, I guess,” Copes said during a phone interview while exploring Times Square Oct. 8.

Copes was nominated for the award by Magnolialand Entertainment last spring. Magnolialand Entertainment is the Alabama-based film company creating the documentary, “Children Changing the World,” which is based on Copes and 10 students’ trip to Honduras to deliver basic utility vehicles and fit amputees with prosthetic legs the students made from Toyota Corolla parts.

Three weeks ago, Copes was contacted by “People” magazine to let him know he made “the short list,” Copes said.

Copes said photographers from “People” magazine visited Calera High for a photo spread last week.

“The kids were trying to figure out what was going on,” Copes said, laughing. “We’ve just been quiet, and enjoying the moment.”

Four other teachers were selected for the honor, including Arwen Imai Matthews, an introductory physics and chemistry teacher in Houston, Texas; Elizabeth Curran, a special education teacher in Newport, N.H.; Jennifer Bohn, a leadership development teacher in Orlando, Fla.; and Robert Vega, a band director in Chicago.

Copes and his wife flew to New York City a day early to “enjoy the magic of New York City,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be more surreal when we get to the awards banquet. Right now is just anticipation, excitement, I don’t know,” Copes said. “I think when we see the whole ordeal, it’s going to be ‘Oh my goodness.’”

The “People” magazine featuring the Teacher of the Year competition will be available later this week.