LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Richard Knoeppel

Position: High School Architecture Teacher
School: Advanced Technologies Academy
School District: Clark County School District
City, State: Las Vegas, NV

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Richard Knoeppel was nominated by his principal, Jonathan Synold.

Mr. Knoeppel embodies the concept of a teacher leader, as he has been a catalyst for positive, student-focused change at the school and state levels. Whether it's through his work on the Education Equity Teach Plus Policy Fellowship or being an active member of the Nevada STEM Advisory Council, Mr. Knoeppel has always been a strong advocate for expanding STEM opportunities for all students.

Mr. Knoeppel has been a cornerstone of the Advanced Technologies Academy (A-TECH) faculty since 1995. He developed an award winning architecture program. In fact, he has built the only CTE program in Nevada to win an AdvanceCTE National Program of Excellence award. Due to his strong classroom instruction, over 98% of Mr. Knoeppel’s architecture students have passed the difficult Nevada CTE Architectural Design End-of-Program Assessment for the past three years. In addition, he was the lead teacher in the revamping of the A-TECH Senior Capstone Project. His leadership ensured that the Capstone was rigorous and incorporated cross-curricular learning opportunities, community engagement, presentation and research skills. Mr. Knoeppel ensures that his students possess the skills and concepts to be successful in college and to actively compete in district, state, and national competitions such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). He is an exemplary educator and colleague and is invested in the success of all teachers and students.

Mr. Knoeppel is constantly looking for creative ways to expand his impact while remaining a dedicated teacher. He was in the first cohort of the the Public Education Foundation’s Teacher Leader Academy. Ideas developed in his capstone on Clark County School District’s reorganization were implemented in School Organization Teams (SOT) across CCSD. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Knoeppel’s colleagues voted him as their SOT faculty representative. Later, he was selected by the SOT team to be the chair for the past two years. He has been actively engaged in the SOT and ensures that all meetings are impactful and focused on improving student achievement. Mr. Knoeppel’s leadership and passion for students is recognized by the A-TECH community and he has shown how it is possible to be a leader in and out of the classroom.

Mr. Knoeppel said last year that he has been so blessed in his career that his current goal was to, “pay it forward.” He has definitely lived up to his goal, as he mentors teachers and write grants for CTE programs. Last year alone, he received the Verizon Innovative Learning and Project Management Institute STEM grants. Both of these grants gave A-TECH students the opportunity to gain practical experience with high technology.

Mr. Knoeppel’s first priority, however, is always his students. A powerful moment occurred during A-TECH graduation last June, when Mr. Knoeppel announced the name of one of the seniors to walk across the stage. This student came from a single-parent immigrant family and was the first to graduate high school. Even more than that, she had earned a Questbridge full-ride scholarship to Amherst College. Mr. Knoeppel worked tirelessly to mentor this student over her four years at A-TECH, and he helped her prepare an extensive application.

"I could see in her face her gratitude to Mr. Knoeppel, as he had forever changed the trajectory of herself and her family’s lives," said Synold. "There are many stories like this one over Mr. Knoeppel’s career, as he continues to 'pay it forward' for his students and colleagues. Mr. Knoeppel deserves recognition for his dedication to improving Nevada’s educational system over the past two decades."

Comments (40)

Isaac Carpenter Posted 6 months ago

It seems to be that everyone has at least one teacher that they get to tell in stories about how they changed their lives. I couldn’t be more grateful to have Mr. Knoeppel as mine. No one in my entire life has believed in my future more than Mr. K. No one in my life has offered me so many opportunities to improve myself; whether it be work, education, or even a dumb little article that I may find interesting. He always knew how to care more about me than just my grades. In comparison to other teachers I’ve had, none have put in the effort that he has to ensure that my success in life is his best interest. His peers have a lot to learn from that. So, he teaches them too! Isn’t that strange? A teacher teaching a teacher. I found it so cool that he had this immense talent to show not only us, but his peers how to care about what they do and how be more than just themselves. All he does is teach and care. That means more to those he's impacted than what words can express.

Jeff Hinton Posted 7 months ago

Rich is a teacher’s teacher in the sense that he is not only highly qualified and motivated, but extremely passionate about educating the whole student both intellectually and emotionally. His drive, perseverance, and dedication to excellence can be seen in his day to day teaching as well as his interactions with teachers and staff. Rich has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his students and is a lifechanger in its truest sense.

Ricardo Borunda Posted 7 months ago

Charismatic, affectionate and incredible are words I would use to describe Mr. Knoeppel. His ability to inspire and change his students is what sets him apart from anyone I've met. He has shown, time and time again, his ability to "pay it forward" and has instilled in me to do the same for the rest of my life. From what I have experienced, Mr. Knoeppel is no ordinary teacher, he's more than that. He's a role model, a support system and a friend. I only say that because he has completely changed my life for the better. Being a first-generation college student comes with many challenges and Mr. Knoeppel has been there every step of the way. Most teachers don't know each student’s personal story, let alone care, but Mr. Knoeppel takes the time out of his busy work schedule to sit down with his students and get to know them on a deeper level. Not in a weird way but he does so to help his students be successful and be by their side. For example, he inspired me to break the social norms of my family by not only going to college but also getting a full ride. Cases like mine are not rare and that’s what sets him apart. I can count on Mr. Knoeppel with anything I’m struggling with and that goes beyond what any teacher could ever teach. Even to this day Mr. Knoeppel and I are close and will continue to have a meaningful relationship well into my career because that’s the kind of teacher he is. He’s the mentor that inspires, motivates and transformed his students by doing what he loves to do the most, teach.

Steven Waker Posted 7 months ago

As a student who goes to Advanced Technologies Academy, one of the best high schools in the United States, I like to think that I know generally what is going on, how to get there, and why it happens. However, also as an ATECH student I know that the potential for knowledge is endless, and that realistically, I’m barely scratching the surface. This is supposed to be where teachers come in. Teachers are supposed to do more than teach facts and algorithms. Teachers are supposed to teach how to build relationships, lead as a positive role models, and prepare us for the future. This is what makes Mr. Knoeppel stand out, and truly impact those who he teaches. Mr. Knoeppel has found the way to be the lifechangers that we want teachers to be, in a way that impacts and develops the students he teaches on a daily basis. The first way that Mr. Knoeppel is a major life changer for more than just me is the way that Mr. Knoeppel develops relationships. We live in a society where schools are seemingly becoming more dangerous and where teachers aren’t the ones we should be trusting our kids with. Because of this, many teachers shy away at the idea of developing any relationship with their students other than a strict “teacher-student” or “authority-subject” bond. However, this doesn’t actually help students. One of the things Mr. Knoeppel does so well is to treat us as equals as though we can be trusted and responsible for our actions as most adults would be. This small change is enough to actually drastically affect a person's mentality and how they act. Personally I have been told to “mature” or “grow-up” but people don’t tell you how. This change is what allowed me to develop personally, I was more likely to act as a grown up when I was being treated like one, and that made all the difference. To add on further, not every change is as minor as the one aforementioned. Another example that is huge and absolutely life changing is Mr. Knoeppel develops relationships to better guide his students through more than just high school. Mr. Knoeppel dedicates a lot of time into delving into our thought processes and ideas to try and best figure out our future. Our future is not limited into what he wants either, but rather, what is best for that particular person. In a sense, Mr. Knoeppel does 2 jobs in one, all for a single teacher's salary, teacher as well as counselor. While I could continue to go on and on about the life changing relationships Mr. Knoeppel builds, another key part of what makes Mr. Knoeppel a life changer is his ability to be a positive role model at all times. Everyone slips up sometimes, whether it be language, patience, or general values, everyone can sometimes nullify their normal, upstanding selves and delve into a bad role model. However, while I may have said everyone slips up sometimes, Mr. Knoeppel is the exception to this rule. It is obvious based on someone's mood whether or not they are having a good day, and as a rule bad moods usually result in a bad attitude and a deviation from one’s normal self. To clarify, if I am in a bad mood, I am less likely to behave how I normally do, and I may act more rudely and impatiently. This doesn’t seem to be the case for Mr. Knoeppel. Regardless of his mood, Mr. Knoeppel always treats us with respect, enthusiasm and honesty. He is constantly a positive role model and everyday he pushes us to become the best versions of ourselves, while teaching us the right behaviors and mentality, as well as practicing what he “preaches.” Long story short Mr. Knoeppel is the definition of a constant role model, The final thing that makes Mr. Knoeppel a life changer, and more importantly deserving of the Lifechanger of the Year Award, is his ability to prepare all of his students for the future uniquely. One common flaw most teachers have is the idea that every student can be taught the same way, at the same pace, using the same methods. Part of this has to do with the relationships Mr. Knoeppel develops. By getting to know all of his students Mr. Knoeppel better tailors his lessons, assignments, and time frame to fit his students. Not only this, but Mr. Knoeppel can tell the dedication and true passions of his students after only a few months. For example, a good friend of mine wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do in his future. Mr. Knoeppel has been able to, in just a few short months, peg my friend based on the type of work he does, and has been able to suggest areas of possible interest, but also where his current skills can be utilized. I can’t think of any other teacher that does this and goes out of their way to make sure we can reach our potential and not waste our skills. What Mr. Knoeppel does is so unique and beneficial, it’s absolutely life changing. Furthermore, Mr. Knoeppel makes sure that we have all of the resources we need to in order to complete present projects, whether it is a project for his class or not. While it may sound corny Gandhi’s quote, “The future depends on what we do in the present,” seems to be the belief of Mr. Knoeppel. Mr. Knoeppel is constantly making sure what we do in the present is the best it can be, not only so we can improve in the future, but also to make sure we can showcase what we have done. This allows his students to have an advantage and get into colleges that we normally could not and be prepared for the future. There is plenty more on why Mr. Knoeppel deserves Life Changer of the Year, however, I think the information provided clearly showcases Mr. Knoeppels impact on not just myself, but all of his students. Mr. Knoeppel may not be perfect, however finding someone who does everything that he does, with the energy and passion is the equivalent of finding a politician that is not corrupt. Finding someone as special and extraordinary as Mr. Knoeppel is something that happens once in a lifetime. Undoubtedly, there are some other qualified candidates for this award, but none can truly compare to Mr. Knoeppel. In conclusion, Mr. Knoeppel is truly a life changer.

Leonardo Gonzalez Posted 7 months ago

I’ve only had Mr. Knoeppel for less than half a year, and through this he has already become my favorite and most impactful teacher in my entire 16 years of schooling. It is truly a unique feeling to never want to miss a day of school for just one class. At the beginning of the year, during an interview, I was conducting, Knoeppel responded to a question I asked that has stuck with me throughout the entire time of me knowing him. The question was, “What is your goal as a teacher?” which he responded with, “I’ve already achieved it. I’ve been working at Atech for 24 years and what makes me feel like I did my job right, is working with and seeing my former students in the workforce.” Mr. Knoeppel is the only teacher I’ve ever had that truly will do anything to help his students with their problems; The only teacher who actually gets to know the students he teaches. Throughout these 6 months of having him, he has perfected our drawing abilities in AutoCAD, and taught us how to use photoshop. But not only do I see Mr. Knoeppel twice a day for architecture, Mr. Knoeppel has been running a club where a handful of his students stay after school to work on a car that we somewhat started from scratch. In this club Mr. Knoeppel has taught valuable skills like, 3D modeling, 3D Printing, Lasercuting, Potting, and Soldering. I have 3D printed headlights, rearendlights, and I have soldered the LED lights that go into them. I had never even touched a solder or a 3D printer before being his student and although we still have a lot of work to do on the car, we are learning valuable skills that I probably would have never learned in any other class. Mr. Knoeppel has sincerely impacted my life and im lucky enough to have had him as a teacher this year. Being in his room doesn’t even feel like a classroom. He makes it feel like an office space. It’s a place where you could walk up from your seat and get ideas from other students, A place where you are treated with respect, and a young adult, and place where everyone feels safe to ask questions. Mr. Knoeppel would do something over “a million times” if he has too. He’d rather us ask and than not knowing and being confused there after. I’ve had to many classes where that's not the case. I believe that Mr. knoeppel truly deserves this award, He shows us everyday that he cares for his students, and would do anything in his power to make us successful.

Isaiah Bueno Posted 7 months ago

Mr. Knoeppel is not just a teacher, but a mentor to all his students. Having Mr. Knoeppel as a teacher is a blessing because he will do anything to help a student. I am currently a striving freshman in college, all thanks to Mr. K. I am the first person in my family to go to college, which meant I didn't have anyone to guide me and Mr. K helped me as well as all my peers. He cares about everyone in his class and will go the extra mile to see his students prosper and become successful. If it wasn't for Mr. K I don't think I would've been the student I am today. He taught me so many life skills such as work ethic, time management, and creating connections with people. Those life skills are not things you learn and practice all the time, but Mr. Knoeppel showed me the importance of those skills. He is a teacher you can always count on no matter what. He will never let you down and lives by his word. I will forever be grateful to have Mr. Knoeppel as a teacher and mentor.

Antonio Trejo Posted 7 months ago

I have never met anyone more qualified to be called a "mentor". Mr. Knoeppel goes beyond just teaching his students and instead prefers to build a connection with them. By making this connection, he is able to better understand them and help them in whatever way we can. I had the honor of being one of Mr. Knoeppel's students. During my time under his instruction, he guided me to be the best i can be and develop the skills required to pursue architecture in my higher education and in my (eventual) career. This experience is not mine alone, as Mr. K is responsible for introducing many into the architectural field. One would be hard pressed to find someone in the Las Vegas architecture community that does not know Mr. Knoeppel or has never been his student. I have been blessed in meeting Mr. Knoeppel, like many before me have, and many after me will.

Daniel Carlos Magana Posted 7 months ago

Mr Knoeppel is by far one of the most exceptional teachers I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and being taught under. He has managed to not only act as a supportive figure to me but to all students who have looked up to him. He did all of that while being the teacher of the architecture class at A-TECH. This is a very significant aspect of Knoeppel's character because it always seems like his time at the school is always revolving around the students in the classroom. In my first year in his class, I did not have the best of attitudes, I always felt bored up until we got into designing and learning more about architecture and I started having fun. His words of advice pushed me further in my architectural work. His support from the first year in architecture changed me into working harder in his class the 2nd year where I managed to see how much of my life could be changed by Mr K. He saw through my projects and motivated me endlessly to make the best work I possibly can, it allowed me to win an award and further myself into a professional career which he helped me find and work for. He without a doubt changed my life for the better by fixing my personality and making sure I do great in the future with my endeavours in architecture. I am forever grateful for all the work Mr K has poured into the students he has and I. I have only told my story and experience with Mr K but he has managed to do this act of changing people's lives many times over during his long career as a teacher.

Paola Garcia Posted 8 months ago

When asked about the people who have positively impacted my life, my list isn't long but one of the people it includes is Mr. Knoeppel. At A-Tech, academics are everything and it is rare for students to develop a strong connection with a teacher. Mr. K somehow found a way to do that while also being an amazing instructor. I am very fortunate to have been in his class for almost two years now and I can genuinely say that I feel like Mr. K cares for me as well as all of his students and wants the absolute best for us. Not only does he want us to reach great things, he also is willing to help people reach that to the best of his abilities. He has helped people in unimaginable ways and although I was very closed off at first, I slowly started opening up and letting him help me. Mr. K sees the potential in people that sometimes even those people don't see. He's written hours of recommendation letters to help kids get into college who without his guidance and help might have not been able to go otherwise. Mr. Knoeppel gave me the reassurance and confidence I lacked. I often compare my abilities to others' and its hard to not feel like I lack something when I see the incredible work his other students do but Mr. k makes sure i know I'm on the right track and I know I can come to him with any problem I have for advice or help. Mr. Knoeppel has been the most supportive teacher I have ever had. He is constantly looking for opportunities to better our education. I cannot express in words in words how thankful I am to Mr. Knoeppel because sometimes all a student needs is some support and he never failed to give me that. I always knew and continue to know that no matter what is going on I can come to his class and feel like I have a purpose.

Esthefany Mendoza Daniel Posted 8 months ago

I don't think I’ve ever seen a teacher so invested in the success of their students and classroom learning abilities. In the short-long time that I have known Mr. Knoeppel, I can say he is by far the most important teacher to me and one of the best in A-tech. Mr. Knoeppel is self-less, extraordinary, hard working and most of all caring to everyone and everything he knows. He is the type of person who understands your situation but also push you passed your limit to success. The type where he is available to anyone anytime (school, advisory, email etc.), even when he’s super busy, he’ll find time for his student. He’ll also encourage creativity and fun into work space, giving different views and presentations on different assignments. In my view, he's really one of the only authorities I trust into talking more past than school life (Yes i am that student who is EXTREMELY shy.) You can tell him your problems and he automatically have advice or help on his end. Recently, in these past two-years and a half I had a difficult situation I was living on, so stressful that it did affect me academically and I didn't really trust anyone to tell, in fear of other things. However i decided to tell Mr. Knoeppel because of other former students saying he is really understanding, and told him.He helped me out a lot on this situation and gave me the best guidance into handling the situation. It feels nice to know that their are teachers willing to help you in situations that aren't related to school. It feels like there is a bigger support, and he’s been one of my support and I am forever grateful. So yes I can confidently say he is extraordinary and remarkable. As I’d like to say, you can write an entire book on all the best things he has done, and even more!

Alejandro Medina Posted 8 months ago

“There goes my hero, Watch him as he goes, There goes my hero, He's ordinary.” Just an ordinary person, no cape, nor superpower, Richard Knoeppel, has the power to inspire and change people. Richard Knoeppeldoe not only teach but he gets to connect with students one by one to lead them to success, he is even willing to stay after school and spend his personal time to work on student’s needs. For me, Richard Knoeppel has not only been a teacher but he has also been a parent figure. Helping me accomplish what a year ago I thought was impossible to do, he gave me the tools and push forward to attempt a mind-boggling idea. Did it pay off for the current event, no but it did pay off in the long run, not only can I do what I only imagined, but now it has become a second nature, yet with how far I have come, Richard Knoeppel keeps on giving to improve and help me improve my skills for future use. In the words of Foo Fighters “There goes my hero.”

Rochelle Flores Posted 8 months ago

In the two years I have been seated in Mr.K’s classroom, I say with the utmost confidence that no teacher is as capable, caring, and willing to help their students than him. I see him every school day this year and see the dedication and hard work he puts into his classroom and students. He inspired us to take charge of our future and to me he is a teacher that I have been able to confide in and ask questions about school, college, or life in general. He strives to give us, his students, the best opportunities to succeed and is understanding of the fact that all of us are different in our abilities. He encourages us and is the support system that many students lack. He puts in the extra effort and time in everything he does and deserves to be recognized for the lasting impact he has on all of his students. I know that whether it be 10, 20, or 50 years I will remember Mr. Knoeppel as a teacher who I could rely on. He will forever be my favorite teacher in the world and the teacher who has inevitably shaped by future goals and perspective on life.

Gabby Morales Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Knoeppel has been an example to many teachers on how one should teach and interact with students. The impact he has on not just myself, but several other students is inspirational. He truly tries his best to create an environment where students can grow and feel supported which helps facilitate our learning to another level. He takes the time to talk to his students and help lead them through any struggles they are having while simultaneously assisting them towards their goals. I have learned many things from him about how I can be successful and not a day goes by where I don't feel like he is someone I can go to. A-TECH would be a very different school if it were not for him and the way he has shaped the environment and students. His reach goes past the kids in his classes, those who have never taken a course with him also feel the same energy because the man has such a kind-hearted and compassionate soul. At the end of the day, my life and many others' would not be the same if Mr. Knoeppel was not involved in it. There are very few people who deserve this award the way that he does.

David William Sanchez Posted 8 months ago

As a highschool senior, I've had multiple experiences with many teachers, and many of those teachers have done a fairly good job pushing me in the right direction. However I have never had such an amazing and positive experience in the classroom like the one I have had in Mr. Knoepple's class. The classroom environment he has worked so hard to cultivate has clearly been effective, just looking at myself and the peers I am surrounded by, we have all transformed into much more superior students under Mr. Knoepple's guidance. Many teachers teach very well, and Mr. Knoeppel is among the best of them, however where I think he is the strongest is not just teaching, but making the students want to learn, and he does this by making us feel important. I have never had a teacher that cares as much about me and my peers education and future as much as he has. In just the two years I have been in his classroom, he has managed to change my perspective on what exactly being a teacher means, I truly feel much more ready for college and for life, as well as feeling trained in the best way to think out and use my creativity in the best way possible because of his teachings. Mr. Knoeppel also shines in his efforts to better our school, It is clear he does care about our school, he is always willing to help everyone in any way he can, whether it be the students or faculty. Whenever he accomplishes something his first thought is how he can use his newfound accomplishment to better our classroom. I can truly say Mr. knoeppel is the best teacher I have ever had and my life is truly better because of the experiences I have had while attending his classroom.

Andrew Chang Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Knoeppel is one of the best teachers I have had the privilege to learn under. His consistent commitment to the classroom as well as his constant reminders that he's there for us students is very comforting and inspiring, especially in regards to his class subjects. Even outside of class or even outside of his own area of concentration, Mr. Knoeppel is willing to help students maximize their potential and facilitate their growth in general. Mr. Knoeppel has dedicated much of his life to the students that he teaches, which shows in numerous ways, from the simple joy of going to class to the state to national awards that the students receive from participation in contests such as NAWIC and AIA. Mr. Knoeppel tries his best to see the brightness in everyone, and pushes those who are already bright to go even further. Often, we students are blind to that potential unless we are guided in a way that Mr. Knoeppel has been able to do, and it is rare for a teacher such as him to even exist. Often, Mr. Knoeppel will share with us anecdotes from his own life, which can dispense a sense of knowledge, empathy, and wisdom that can connect to students that would not otherwise open up. Mr. Knoeppel's way of teaching is both rigid in the sense that he wants us to do the best that we can possibly do, and laid back in a way that we don't feel as though we're held at gunpoint to do so. Mr. Knoeppel's way of teaching is almost therapeutic in that way, as he knowingly allows us to goof off sometimes, in the mutual expectation that we will put our work in at some other time. Mr. Knoeppel respects that we students are all hailing from vastly different origin points in terms of culture, values, and anything in between, and does his best to be able to converge that diversity into his classroom structure and teaching style. He values us, and it shows in a way that is not always best represented through text, but he facilitates student growth in a confusing and often difficult time in our lives, and for that I, and I'm sure many others, are grateful.

Jay-Jay Pulig Posted 8 months ago

When we think of teachers, we think of them as people who simply have the goal to educate people to help them advance and prepare for the stages in life. What we don't think about are the circumstances and emotions that those people that the teacher teaches feel. That is what sperate Mr. Knoeppel from all the other teachers I've had. He not only cares about your success, but he cares about what is going on in your life and wants to improve the other aspects of your life that aren't related to teaching. There are people who go through a numerous amount of things in their walk of life and need someone to be there for them to support them. They just need one person and everything would be better for them. Mr. Knoeppel is a person that can make all the difference in the world in someone's life. He not only has the ability to teach but has this aura around him that draws me, a positive one, that when I'm near, I always want to do my very best as he will be the guide to get you where you want to go. Potential is only as great as the person sees it as, and Mr. Knoeppel is the light that helps that person see their own potential even when that person doesn't see it themselves. He has helped me see something in myself that no other has helped me see in my career and in my own character. It is something that will carry on with me as I go through the stages of life, and I hope everyone who had, has, or will have him will cherish.

Jacori Schoolfield Posted 8 months ago

I’ve had the pleasure to be in Mr. Knoeppel’s Architecture Drafting and Design class for two years now and I can confidently state that he has been the most phenomenal teacher I’ve ever had. Within my two years of being in Mr. Knoeppel’s class I have been a first hand witness to the outstanding work he has done for not only the classroom, but Advanced Technologies Academy as a whole. Being apart of Clark County School District since the start of my academic career I’ve rarely come across teachers that truly invest in each and everyone of their students. I’m happy to one of these rarities is Mr. Knoeppel. Within my first year of being a student in his class, I could immediately tell that he saw me as a young black male with aspirations for my future. Unlike any other teacher I’ve had, I knew Mr. Knoeppel sees the potential that I have to offer to the world. With those observations, Mr. Knoeppel has pushed me through these past two years to reach further beyond the stars and to never settle. Mr. Knoeppel’s overwhelming determination, compassion, and understanding has allowed me to see a successful future for myself even after college. Mr. Knoeppel and I have had in depth conversations about what my future outside of high school can look like and I know with outstanding support and knowledge I can accomplish anything I set my mind to do. Without Mr. Knoeppel, I don’t see myself today being as focused and driven as I am currently. In fact, I doubt that I would even still have the aspiration to have a career in Architecture after high school. The knowledge and true belief he has embedded in me is not mutually exclusive to just me; the same things he’s done for me I’ve seen him do for every student that comes into his class. What makes him such a life changer is that his sentiments aren’t just exclusive to some, but honestly applied to all of his students. I have no doubt that he sees the potential in all of us, even when we can’t see it in ourselves. I know that even beyond high school I can always rely on Mr. Knoeppel for unconditional support. I can’t wait to pursue my career with the support that he has for me. With that, I thank Mr. Knoeppelnot only for everything he does for me, but for everyone around him.

Spencer Posted 8 months ago

If I could summarize my experiences with Mr Knoeppel as a teacher in one word, it would be “supportive”. He truly wants to ensure that every student of his succeeds and performs to the best of their ability. A mentor just as much as a teacher, Mr Knoeppel makes sure to get to know students on a personal level in order to help them achieve their goals. For instance, he’s made sure to stay updated on my exploits with my extracurricular activities and discuss them with me. Mr Knoeppel has provided countless opportunities for students passionate about architecture and other STEM fields to partake in hands on experiments, which I’ve seen my peers appreciate tremendously. Even if a student ultimately decides that architecture is not for them, as I have, he still supports them, giving them advice in the college application process and pointing them to scholarships. I’ve seen countless lives touched by Mr Knoeppel’s guidance throughout my time at A-Tech, and he absolutely deserves the praise and recognition he has finally been recieving.

Bryan Posted 8 months ago

Looking back at all the teachers I have met throughout my high school career, Mr. Knoeppel is the only teacher that I can name who actually cares about their students. He notably makes an effort to talk to every single student and personally get to know them in order to know what would be best for them. He continues to improve his classroom in order to create the best learning experience possible. If he sees that a student wants to reach a goal and shows interest, even outside of his own classroom, he makes sure he helps out as much as he can. I’ve seen him help students with obtaining scholarships and going through the entire process with them. He was a major help to my brother who graduated last year, he supported him throughout the entirety of his Questbridge application where he became a finalist. Knowing my brother’s immigrant status, Mr. Knoeppel helped him find and apply to whichever scholarships he could since scholarships can be limited to those without citizenship. He was not only helping him but my entire family since they wouldn’t have to worry about paying money for college since he received enough money from scholarships to pay off his tuition. Mr. Knoeppel doesn’t care if his students want their career path to be in Architecture, he just wants to see them succeed.

Jenzel Sayas Posted 8 months ago

Being in Mr. Knoeppel class doesn’t only teach the fundamentals of architecture, but he also influences and guides us to the path of success. I’ve had a passion to take on architecture since I was in elementary school. Although I knew very little at the time, I knew exactly what career I want to achieve. Once I got into A-TECH, I never felt more motivated and optimistic about a singular subject. Although I had some rough patches in the first two years that made me rethink my career and if the subject I'm taking is really worth my time and effort, the person that made me feel like the kid I was in elementary school, was Mr. Knoeppel. Especially this year, my senior year, he gave me the acknowledgment and recognition that I needed to boost me throughout the year. Hearing that my building designs are unique and challenging from Mr. Knoeppel is like hearing it from my parents. I'm arguably even more passionate than the kid I was before. Not only did he rekindled my fire to architecture, he still had the time to sit down and talk about my future in college. Almost every day, he would talk to us about the scholarships, opportunities, and the truth about colleges. I'm in substantial gratitude to him. Thank you, Mr. Knoeppel.

Anthony Barajas Posted 8 months ago

I have been in school for 12 for twelve years and I’ve had my experiences with many teachers and throughout everything I can easily say with no hesitation that Mr. Knoeppel has been one of my best teachers. Despite leading the best architecture program in the state, he is a great person to talk to and can help direct you in the right path for your future; even if it doesn't have anything to do with architecture. He shows interest in our lives and is very understandable to our situations. Unlike some teachers, he teaches us to our ability and adapts to our skill sets. He has created many opportunities for us to be successful like, helping us get an internship/job, helping us receive scholarships, or even sitting down with us for however long it might take to write a paper.The way that he motivates and believes in us to do great things is what sets him apart from others and I can’t be more grateful for it.

Ashlei Pascascio Posted 8 months ago

I usually don't participate in things like this because every teacher I've had has been just that; a teacher who's just doing their job as an educator for the future America. Though I already believe teachers are greatly underpaid, I feel this way even more so towards Mr. Knoeppel because he has been one of the only teachers who has been more than just an educator. He shows students that he actually prioritizes their success, happiness, and interests more than just what he's teaching. For me personally he also showed that he tries to understand everybody's specific situation when it comes to background, personal life, etc and this helps many students t confide in him when they might not have anyone else. Mr. Knoeppel has just been a huge motivator in my life in the rare times that I'm not self motivated to do more than just average. He really changed my outlook on teachers and really just adults in general.

William Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Knoeppel goes above and beyond what most people think of when they think of the word “teacher.” He has been an amazing mentor for me and my peers. When I first came to A-TECH, I was clueless without any sort of plan for my future. I was enrolled in the Architecture program, but I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do. Then, when I walked into Mr. Knoeppel’s class, everything changed for me. Through his guidance and support, I quickly came to realize that architecture is what I want to do in my future. I feel that many students experience this moment inside Mr. Knoeppel’s classroom, whether or not they choose to study architecture, and no matter what Mr. Knoeppel extends every ounce of effort he has into educating us and coaching us down whatever path we want to follow. I think part of the reason his lessons are always so powerful is that Mr. Knoeppel strongly believes that nothing is ever perfect, an idea he always reflects in his classes. He will always find some way to make the work we produce better or even make the classroom environment and his teaching methods more meaningful for us students so we always gain new insight on the project at hand. Along with this, Mr. Knoeppel provides real-life connections along with his teachings. Whether he teaches us how to build models of our buildings or he guides us through community-based STEM projects such as constructing an electric car or creating a solar-powered charging station for the school, Mr. Knoeppel always provides learning experiences out of the software we use. Now, as a senior facing a whole new realm called “college,” Mr. Knoeppel continues to coach us through the process - something few teachers ever do. All of these factors combined make Mr. Knoeppel one of the greatest teachers and mentors any student could have.

Rebeca Barboza Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Knoeppel is someone who is admired by many and quite frankly, it isn't a surprise. Being able to work with him and be mentored by him is a great honor as I know that he always puts forth the best effort for his students and his school. When he isn’t teaching or working on a project, he is giving us advice for our futures, telling us stories about his kids, or simply just making us laugh. He has created such a great learning environment where everyone feels comfortable to ask him anything that may be on our minds. Each individual student has a bond with Mr. Knoeppel, whether it be about our schoolwork, things we do outside of school, or just our ordinary life struggles, he talks to us about it. This is something I have always admired about him because no matter what he is working on, or how important something else may seem, there is nothing more important than his students. Have you ever heard of a teacher taking time out of his busy holiday season to write a recommendation letter when they’re asked for it a day before the due date? That is Mr. Knoeppel. He always makes time for his students because he wants the best for them and wants them to succeed, which in my opinion, shows great character that is so admirable. There is no one on this planet that I know that would do more than what Mr. Knoeppel does for his students. Having the accessibility to someone who genuinely cares about you, your passions, and your struggles has truly been life changing and I honestly so grateful that I have had the honor to have Mr. Knoeppel as a teacher.

Anna Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Knoeppel is not known for sitting at his desk all day and leaving his student to do busy work. Having him for almost half my day this year has exposed me to everything he does for his students. Rather than sitting at his desk, he is around the classroom with various tools and equipment attempting to revamp his classroom. He wants to make his classroom functional and fun for his students to be able to learn and interact in. Everything he does is for his students. Mr Knoeppel truly gets to know his students on a level many teachers wouldn’t. He supports his students as a parent would their child. He pushes us to do our best and supports us in whatever we choose to do, even if it isn't architecture. I know I can go to him with any questions or problems and he will do his best to guide me in the right direction or offer alternative perspectives. He is a one of a kind teacher and I’m glad to say I am one of his students.

Alexa Posted 8 months ago

I’ve been one of the few students who have been lucky enough to have Mr. Knoeppel as my teacher. As a senior at A-TECH, Mr. Knoeppel has done nothing but support me in whatever decisions we make for myr future, whether that meant going into the architecture field or dropping it completely to go into other fields. He’s one of the few teachers who genuinely cares about his students and wants the best for them. Mr. Knoeppel has empowered me to do things I never thought I’d be able to do. From supporting my goals, to helping me with my drawings, he’s someone I know I can count on. Mr. Knoeppel truly made an impact on my life, as well as others, and I couldn’t be more thankful to him for that.

David Johannessohn Posted 9 months ago

I taught the fundamental drafting program at A-TECK for sixteen years with Mr. Knoeppel. He works tirelessly, striving to make the school a better place for all. When someone really needs help they come to him. It was a real pleasure to work with him and the students, and I am so glad he is recognized for his excellence.

Logan Ziegler Posted 12 months ago

Mr. Knoeppel is an educator who is fully invested in the lives and success of his students. I was lucky enough to have been a student of Mr. K’s in 2008-2010. I remember the warmth he extended to all students in the form of welcome and his sense of humor. He was fun, and so was his class. This allowed him to engage with his students on a different level. Some of my fondest high school memories are in Mr. K’s classroom with friends. All the fun took nothing from Mr. K’s world-class instruction and student mentorship. It’s arguably the secret-sauce. Mr. K never forced anyone in a prescribed direction, instead he helped students find their interests and provided the tools and support to develop them, much like the process of finding the right design response in architecture. You could liken his teaching-style to much of the emerging business philosophy that advocates for worker autonomy and empowerment. Mr. K is innovator applying this to education years before this was a mainstream idea. As for myself, Mr. Knoeppel provided tremendous support to help me achieve my goals. He made himself and his classroom available before and after hours to work on my projects, leading me to win multiple design awards in high school. His influence helped provide me with an early trajectory in architecture. From being more-than prepared for college, to leading design at a top-local firm today, I owe a great deal of my personal success to the impact of Richard Knoeppel. I can’t imagine someone more deserving of this award.

Sarah Posted over a year ago

Even though it's been a few years since I've taken Mr. Knoeppel's class, he is still hands-down the best teacher I've had. He takes his time to get to know us, our backgrounds, and what we want to achieve and he does everything possible to help us get there. He doesn't hesitate to help us with anything we need, even if it falls outside the conventional duties of a teacher. For me, Mr. K is not just a teacher, but a great mentor who's been incredibly supportive and inspiring since day 1. Mr. Knoeppel loves his students and it shows in everything he does for us inside and outside of the classroom. I'm not the only one who's said that he's the best teacher I've ever had and he has changed my life for the better as a wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend through the years.

Marlene Lopez Posted over a year ago

There are few people, let alone instructors, that come into your life as an adolescent and see beyond your performance in the classroom. Mr. Knoeppel is one of those people. It is easy to say that a teacher does what's best for their students, but to put those words into action is exactly what he accomplishes. Each day, he wears multiple hats for the things he contributes to his school and community. Whether he is playing the role of a father figure, mentor, teacher, friend, or colleague, he demonstrates his motivation for "the greater good." I have seen him go from building custom furniture for his students to have the best educational experience, to advising students, to scouring for job opportunities for his alumni. His compassion for his students and career goes above and beyond. Among all the things Mr. Knoeppel has taught me in the last few years I have known him, one saying has stuck with me the most: Pay it forward. These are words he lives by, being a life-changer every day he can, in every way he can. His impact on me during high school has shaped who I have become and how I see myself in the future. As an incoming undergraduate student, I know I have a lot ahead of me, but I also know I always have his full support and keeping in touch with his alumni is something he doesn't fall short of.

Jared P Posted over a year ago

Mr. Knoeppel bounds didn't stop at the classroom. He didn't teach me as some student who entered his classroom for 2 hours a day, and then disappeared for the next 24 hours. No, he saw me as an individual, with problems, family, other classes, goals, aspirations, and most importantly potential. Prior to entering Mr. Knoeppel's class I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life. I was on a vague life path my parents had set out before me, but Mr. Knoeppel gave me an option, an opportunity for a different life, using the 2 hours we had every day. He didn't tell me what to do, or force me into anything, but rather gave me an opportunity to excel. His push led me to many accolades, and eventually being accepted into the college of my choice. Having this chance I didn't have before led me to realize much of myself and what I was capable of. Mr. Knoeppel truly changed my life, and the lives of many. All my friends in his class now have an opportunity to be great architects, and whether they took it or not was off no consequence to Mr. Knoeppel, he merely provides his students with options, and supports them in any and all of their endeavors, the marks of a truly amazing teacher. The impact he has had on my life is truly unquantifiable and words cannot express how grateful I am for having such a great friend as Mr. Knoeppel.

Nasko Balaktchiev Posted over a year ago

Mr. Knoeppel is the most inspirational, informative, and caring instructor I have ever had in secondary or higher education. He pushes students to excel in their skills, and motivates them to work harder and achieve (in more areas than just architecture). He cares deeply about the success and learning outcome of each and every student. After highschool, I got a Bachelor's and Master's degree in architecture and became a licensed architect at the age of 25. A big part of my success was Mr. Knoeppel's architectural design class in high school. Mr. Knoeppel had such a huge impact on me, I don't think I would have achieved nearly as much as I have today if it wasn't for his class. Mr. Knoeppel understood my skill set well, and he helped me find my first architecture job during high school that was closely related to my skills. Even as early as high school, my career in architecture was accelerated thanks to Mr. Knoeppel. We've kept in communication throughout the years, and I can say that Mr. Knoeppel is more than just my high school architectural design teacher, he is a mentor and a life-long friend. Mr. Knoeppel is extremely deserving of the Life Changer of the Year award, as I know he has changed more lives than just mine.

Paloma Guerrero Posted over a year ago

It is really hard for me to imagine that I would be where I am in my higher education, having just finished my law degree, without Mr. Knoeppel. Mr. Knoeppel is one of those teachers who you never forget because they leave a lasting impact with you. For me, he was instrumental in something super simple but that has taken me very far: believing in myself. As a first generation student I had never had someone tell me I was on the right path (I barely knew what path I was even on) and Mr. Knoeppel made sure I was not settling in my career aspirations and pushed me to reach higher. He is a teacher that knows how far words of encouragement can take students. He is a teacher who knows how to inspire leaders and make students see what they are capable of doing. He is a teacher who I have seen repeatedly open up other students' minds on what they can accomplish. I believe in myself because he believed in me.

Antonio Posted over a year ago

Mr. Knoeppel is more than a teacher, he’s been a mentor and a friend. A person I can go to when I need advice and a person I can always count on. He helped me achieve my goal of getting into Cal Poly Pomona’s Architecture program, and due to his teachings I am a step ahead of a lot my peers. Throughout the years of my life, he’s undoubtedly been the most impactful teacher I’ve had. Thanks for everything Mr. K!

M. Shane Posted over a year ago

Richard and I have worked together on making connections between his architecture program and my Advanced Placement Environmental Science program. His constant support has helped students in both programs make real world connections.

Geoffrey Li Posted over a year ago

Life in high school at A-TECH during the first two years was very uneventful. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the future and I was just going to school because I had to. However, once I became Mr. Knoeppel Architecture student in junior year, I was able to become more active in preparing for the future. For the next two years, Mr. Knoeppel became arguably the biggest influence in my life regarding my future. Without his counseling, encouragement, and instruction, I would never have been able to become a QuestBridge Scholar and attend USC and become part of its prestigious Architecture program. I would not have realized my dreams and strive to achieve beyond my current reach. I am lucky and thankful to have him in my life as a mentor and a friend. He is more than worthy of all the awards and distinctions he has received, and I can think of no other person more deserving of being life changer of the year as he has definitely changed mine.

Beatrice Martinez Posted over a year ago

Amazing isn’t even enough to describe Mr. Knoeppel. He has helped me grow into the person I am today. This is my fourth year in college and all I can say is that he still helps me with anything I need. Whether its for school or just advice. I always enjoy telling new people I meet about my amazing teacher in High school because I wouldn’t be where I am without him. Currently I am following two passions: interior architecture and teaching.

Jeanine Roser Posted over a year ago

I have been fortunate to know Richard for the past five years and work with him closely on leadership initiatives throughout CCSD as well as state legislation. The quote in the article that Richard's goal was to "pay it forward" is what he has done for me as a mentor. Richard has kept my optimism in the teaching profession and what the future of education holds. He has encouraged me to strive for leaderships opportunities I never thought I would, and has pushed me to be an engaged teacher not only in my classroom but also throughout our district and state. Richard is also an incredible teacher. He transforms his classroom and makes sure every student succeeds by differentiating instruction and providing opportunities for students based on their interests. It is a true testament to his teaching as alumni students come back to his classroom to speak and mentor his current students.

Trevor Wiggle Posted over a year ago

Couldn’t thank Knoepell enough for the opportunities I’ve been blessed with. Because of his dedication and open mindedness towards the program, I’ve unlocked a talent within myself that I owe entirely towards him and the architecture initiative. Thanks K-pop!!

Jason Posted over a year ago

Mr. Knoeppel has been fundamental to hundreds of students getting their foot in the door in the field of architecture. His dedication throughout the decades has made the name Knoeppel instantly recognizable as one of great care, leadership, and integrity not just in the design profession but more importantly as an educator. Words cannot describe the impact he has had on my life both as an educator and someone who cares about architecture. Mr. Knoeppel is a true mentor in every sense of the word.