Brian Copes moving to Thompson High

The Alabaster Board of Education voted during its June 9 meeting to hire current Calera High School engineering teacher Brian Copes. (File)

The Alabaster Board of Education voted during its June 9 meeting to hire current Calera High School engineering teacher Brian Copes. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

A current Calera High School teacher who was recognized by “People” magazine as one of the top five teachers in the country in 2012 will help build the engineering program at the new Thompson High School after the Alabaster Board of Education voted to hire him on June 9.

The School Board voted during the meeting to hire Brian Copes as an engineering teacher at the current THS beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

“This is going to be a difference-maker for the students of Thompson High School and Alabaster City Schools. We are very fortunate,” Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said during an interview after the meeting. “Great things will start to happen when you get great people in place.”

At Calera, Copes and his students have worked on several projects impacting those in need across the globe. In 2012, Copes and his students traveled to Honduras and donated basic utility vehicles and prosthetic limbs – all of which were designed and built by the students – to impoverished Hondurans.

Copes, who previously taught at Chelsea Middle School, also has led students to victories in college-level engineering competitions. His students recently designed a wheelchair for THS and Project Search student Mikee Harve designed to help him reach office supplies on tall shelves.

In April, Copes announced his students were working to design a hydroelectric power plant to provide a cost-efficient, reliable source of energy in Honduras. Copes was named the 2014 Best Environmental Educator by the Environmental Education Association of Alabama in February.

ACS Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Cena Davis said Copes will work to establish the school system’s engineering academy, which will begin at THS with the 2014-2015 school year.

As Alabaster designs its new high school – which will be built on 300 acres the school system is purchasing off Thompson Road – Copes will work with architects to design the building’s engineering department, Davis said.

“He is going to build the program from the ground up,” Davis said.