LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Keil Hileman

Position: Social Studies Teacher
School: Monticello Trails Middle School
School District: Unified School District 232
City, State: Shawnee, KS

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Keil Hileman was nominated by the 2019 Museum Rebuild Team, which consists of six of his current and former students. They voluntarily gave up the majority of their summer to rebuild and expand the museum that has become the center of of their community. They represent three different schools where he teaches every single day: Monticello Trails Middle School, Mill Valley High School, and De Soto High School.

If there has been one gift to our society, it would have to be teachers. They take young lives and mold them into the future.  Mr. Hileman, a middle school and high school history and archeology teacher, has touched the lives of so many students. For the past 27 years, Mr. Hileman has taken a subject he cares deeply about and used it to change students' minds so that they, too, become passionate lifelong learners. He isn't a typical teacher and doesn’t have what you would call “normal” teaching methods. He believes education is a privilege, and it should be a fun, new, and exciting experience every day.

To enhance his students' learning, Mr. Hileman has created a continually evolving classroom, which he has named the classroom museum. He tells his students every day it's "their" classroom museum. It has become a community museum because it connects countless family members, grandparents, students, and local businesses. Donations come from all over the community and nation. Mr. Hileman is changing lives with every person his museum program touches.

He is the kind of teacher every student should have because he makes learning fun. His students look forward to school every day. His class is much more than textbooks and worksheets and tests, and it has lots of hands-on activities. For example, his students carried out an archeological dig in the dig tables, where they dug out both real and fake ancient artifacts. Mr. Hileman created four unique simulated archeological digs for each grade he teaches. He created a world treasure dig for sixth grade, a Native American dig for seventh grade, a civil war battlefield dig for eighth grade, and a prehistoric dinosaur dig for high school archeology. Some of his artifacts were real, and some were replicas.

"We discussed the artifacts we found and how they impacted history," said the Rebuild Team. "We learned much more this way instead of only seeing pictures in a textbook because we got to actually touch the artifacts. You would be surprised how touching a real pair of slave shackles changes you as a person and makes you see history in a different way."

Another of Mr. Hileman's wonderful qualities is that he is neutral when teaching his students about history. He doesn’t give students his opinion, but he gives them a chance to think for themselves and develop their own opinions. He guides them to become lifelong learners. For example, in his World Leaders class, his students studied a different world leader every day. He would present a biography about each leader, and the students were asked to form opinions about the leader. For their final project, each student wrote a paper explaining what qualities they think make a good or bad leader. Mr. Hileman encouraged his students to think for themselves and to not be biased or influenced by the opinions of others. He was helping students become independent thinkers.

From the moment you enter his classroom, you know you will learn a lot. There are shelves all over the room stocked with real artifacts, replicas, and student projects. Everything in the room gets the students interested, and you could literally spend hours looking at all of the items on display. There are even posters on the ceiling! His classroom museum has over 80,000 teaching artifacts. He has found a way to turn his classroom into a place that makes people excited to learn. He uses his enthusiasm to inspire students to listen, learn, and grow every day. Mr. Hileman helps students realize how much fun learning can be.

Most importantly, Mr. Hileman wants to teach students about life. He wants to show them why values are important as they grow up and go on to make important decisions that will affect their lives. He connects with his students on a different level because he cares about them deeply. Mr. Hileman creates a personal relationship with each of his students. He never sees them as merely students, but as people. People who are important. People who will make important decisions in their lives that will affect others. People who are the future.

Mr. Hileman presents the past in such a manner that students in his classes feel as if they are a part of it. He'll do whatever it takes to make this happen. He not only has a large classroom full of artifacts and student-created projects, but a mind filled with dreams and energy. Mr. Hileman even makes you want to go out and learn other things for yourself. Once he gets you excited about becoming a lifelong learner, all your other classes seem more exciting, too.

"Mr. Hileman is the single most life-changing teacher anyone on our team has ever had," said the Rebuild Team. "For many of us, coming to Mr. Hileman’s class every day was the best part of our day. We were always excited to see what we were going to learn about that day. Every class was a new adventure in video clips, artifacts, simulated digs, and stories."

Teachers across the school check out Mr. Hileman's artifacts to use as teaching tools in their classes, and some teachers even call his classroom the "artifact resource center." The school plays use his artifacts as props. The art classes use artifacts to draw and sculpt for student projects. Mr. Hileman even changes his class schedules during the day so he can do presentations to the entire eighth grade regarding the history of slavery and the World War II holocaust. The museum influences almost every aspect of his school. When the principal interviews job candidates, the first room she always takes them to is the classroom museum. When the Kansas Teacher of the Year team visits the area, they ask to tour the classroom museum

"To be blunt, we cannot possibly imagine our schools without him and our classroom museum," said the Rebuild Team. "For many of us in this group, he was the single good thing in middle school. For some of us, he was the only reason we graduated high school."

Mr. Hileman forms powerful relationships with everyone in his classes. During the fifth-grade tour, he tells students that he is always there for them, even if they are not taking his classes. From day one, he tells students he will do anything to help them if they seek him out. He helps students with homework, projects and educational challenges. In high school, he lets students stay after class to talk when they are going through rough times. He will meet students for lunch or dinner on the weekends if they need more time to talk or seek his guidance. Former students often come back to have lunch and reconnect with him at his school. In fact, two members of the Rebuild Team have been doing this multiple times a year for the past five years since their departure from high school. It is cool to see former students walking with him from the office to the museum.

Mr. Hileman connects his schools to the world. He makes learning relevant to students for the rest of our lives. He has brought in military veteranss to speak with students about war. Mr. Hileman tracked down and invited a World War II Holocaust survivor and a Sudan Holocaust survivor. Several community groups have come in to tour the museum, work on artifacts, and donate to the museum. One of them is the Red Hat Ladies, a group of thirty 70-year old women dressed in red hats. He also gives up his lunch time to give presentations to the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution community groups.

With all of the presentations and community connections, Mr. Hileman has taught everyone what it means to become a community. Through Mr. Hileman's efforts, his school has truly become a community learning center.

There is no doubt that Mr. Hileman is an amazing leader because of what he has created in the Classroom Museum. He invented the dig tables used for simulated archeology digs. He also created and designed every class he teaches. Mr. Hileman created curriculum and assessments for 6th Grade Museum Connections: World History I, 7th Grade Museum Connections: World History II, 8th Grade Museum Connections: American History, 8th Grade Leadership Course, and Archeology I & II. He collected the thousands of artifacts his students dig up and study. He is a community leader who donates his time to local churches, as well as Boy Scouts and Girl Scounts projects. Several members of the Rebuild Team went to elementary schools where Mr. Hileman conducted annual presentations of his artifacts. He gave up his own time off and sick days to do this. He also created four elementary school museums to help students learn about Native Americans, Pioneers and the Wild West. At Mize Elementary School, he built two large display cases to display their museum artifacts. He also purchased a display case for a sixth grade teacher at Lexington Trails Middle School to display different artifacts and student models for each of the teaching units. When the Rebuild Team reorganized and rebuilt the entire museum this past summer, the new layout allowed Mr. Hileman to donate one of the “dig tables” he invented to Lexington Trails Middle School so the sixth graders could do simulated archeology digs as well. He is always helping, supporting, and giving himself to others.

Mr. Hileman has created a new type of assessment for all of his classes. Each student creates a notebook with pictures, articles, timelines and notes regarding the topics he teaches them about. Then, they choose a topic close to their hearts and build a physical project around it. They have to write a research paper about their creations and use technology to present their final projects to the rest of the class. The students get to be teachers and experts for a brief time at the end of each quarter.

"He tells us this is the best way for us to learn, grow and remember what we have studied," said the Rebuild Team. "We just know it is so much fun to make things and exciting to learn from our classmates."

Mr. Hileman has written articles, book chapters, blogs and free teacher handouts to help share what he knows about teaching with artifacts. One of his colleagues took a college class from him, and he also teaches summer enrichment courses at Johnson County Community College. Sometimes, he leaves to give big speeches at schools, colleges and community groups. He tells his students that he has a responsibility to share what has learned about teaching with artifacts and motivating children to learn, but they still miss him when he is gone.

Mr. Hileman allows Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to do simulated digs after school and on the weekends. He even brought in several church youth groups. He can be found at band concerts, volleyball games, and many other student events.

Mr. Hileman is a leader because he does not hesitate to do what is best for his students, school and community. He sees a need or plan for the better and makes it happen. He has the ability to inspire everyone around him to do what is best for all students. Mr. Hileman will simply do whatever it takes to reach and teach his students.

Mr. Hileman has a large collection of dolls. One time, he read about how negative Barbie dolls were for young girls' self-image, so he wrote a grant to buy Dolls of the World. Then, he reached out to community groups to find more dolls from different countries. Each doll teaches students about culture, clothing, religion and ethnicity. Who knew dolls could teach?

Mr. Hileman is dedicated to helping all teachers and students. He organizes a special visit for Mid-America Nazarene student teachers to tour the museum before school. The student teachers stay and observe him teach first hour 8th grade museum connections. He's also part a similar initiative for The University of Kansas, where he spends a day presenting to future teachers.

Veterans Day holds a particularly special place in his heart. He presents artifacts at many different schools each year around Veterans Day. He tells his students that "Freedom is not Free," and they should take the time to thank those who have served in the Armed Forces.

American History is so important to Mr. Hileman that he started organizing a Washington D.C. trip 26 years ago. He offers this trip each year to all three middle schools and both high schools. This is no small feat, given the distance from DC to Kansas!

Mr. Hileman has won many awards, but he remains humble and says that winning an award "is like giving a medal to a fish for swimming.” He was named the Kansas Teacher of the Year in 2004. This award made him an ambassador for education, and he traveled across the state presenting and inspiring students and teachers. He was later selected to be a U.S. Department of Education Teacher Ambassador Fellow. He still taught full time in his district, but he also informed the government about student learning and the challenges and solutions that he saw. Mr. Hileman was also a finalist for National Teacher of the year.

Dolly Parton awarded him a special honor with the Chasing Rainbows award because he survived brain cancer, losing his vision and shattering his legs and still stayed in the classroom. The Daughters of the American Revolution named him their National American History Teacher of the Year. He has also been inducted into the Midwest Education Hall of Fame. 

"There is so much more we don't know about," said the Rebuild Team. "We know he is a professional teacher because he shows up every day with a smile on his face. He gets here early and stays late. He never gives up on us or himself. Mr. Hileman tells us that he loves us. We know this is true by the way he treats us and from all the experiences he makes possible for us. He is a full time, professional LifeChanger."

Mr. Hileman starts each class passing period with fast-paced, high energy music. Students look forward to this and often dance into class or move to their desks and dance in place. He disciplines with humor and smiles. He tells jokes and makes very bad puns that make students laugh at him and themselves. According to him, when a person laughs, they increase the oxygen flow to their brain and stimulate learning. He also says that laughing releases chemicals that help students feel better, calm down, and remember what is being taught. He never has to yell at students because he takes time to listen and talk with us. 

Mr. Hileman teaches students that choices are important in life. He says they can “choose” their own seats in class. He tells students if they make a bad choice and talk instead of listening and participating in class, they have “chosen” to get moved to a different seat. Mr. Hileman treats students like adults, not babies. He trusts them with his cell phone number. He has his email on all of his course guides. Once again, he tells students to use this information wisely and to make good choices.

Mr. Hileman gives hugs when they are needed. He is a hallway high five expert. He is never scared to put a hand on a student's shoulder to calm them down when they are upset. Mr. Hileman has Kleenex hidden around the museum for allergies and tears. He tells students that he, “watches faces.” He can see if they are tired, mad, lost, hungry or even have a fever.

Mr. Hileman is in tune with students. He tells all of his students that he is always there for them, and he means this. He introduces himself and tells students his name is pronounced like “Hi-Old-Man” but without the “D.” This always makes students laugh. He is comfortable laughing at himself, which makes students comfortable with who they are.

According to him, Mr. Hileman gave up trying to be “Normal” years ago. He tells students there is no such thing as “Normal.” He encourages his students to discover who they really are and appreciate their own uniqueness.

"Mr. Hileman uses science to prove to students that each of us is special," said the Rebuild Team. "He tells us our finger prints are the only ones like them on the planet. He tells us our ears are unique to only us. Mr. Hileman says the blood vessels in our eyes are also special, like our fingerprints. He reminds us with his compassion every day, that we are special people and one of a kind. He tells us with no reservation at all, 'There never has been anyone like you and there never will be again!'"

This is when the homework kicks in. He tells each of his students they have special talents and gifts they need to discover and work on to use. Mr. Hileman says each person has one job: to make tomorrow better than today. He also says this will only happen if students work together to become their best selves.

During the first week of each class, Mr. Hileman tells his students they are a Family. They're expected to respect each other and help each other learn. Mr. Hileman says he is more than a teacher. He is a student advocate whose job is to help students learn what they need to know to be successful and happy. All students are welcome in his classes. All special education students are able to find a home and learn with him. When there is an outburst or meltdown with a student, Mr. Hileman reminds his students they are all special, and that they all learn in different ways and have different needs.

"Mr. Hileman presents the past in such a manner that we feel it, touch it, and live it," said the Rebuild Team. "He can and will do whatever it takes to get through to us and to help us, inside the classroom and out. Not only does he have a big classroom filled with lots of interesting artifacts and student-created projects, but he also has a big heart filled with hope and compassion."

Middle school and high school are times where students are watching everyone around them and trying to decide who they want to be as people. When students see Mr. Hileman, they see a person of character and values. He never lies, and he keeps his promises. He freely admits when he's wrong or makes a mistake. Mr. Hileman shows students that having hope is important. His stories of surviving a brain tumor and broken legs prove that it's ok to fall down and get back up again.

Mr. Hileman has his Eagle Scout medal on his desk. He wears it when he speaks. He shares stories about young people he knows who have struggled with life challenges during the confirmation and Sunday school classes he has taught. Mr. Hileman proudly wears his “I Voted” sticker after voting days. His patience for students and compassion for those around him is inspirational.

"It seems to us that so many people in today’s world ask 'how you are doing,' but don’t really care," said the Rebuild Team. "Mr. Hileman DOES care. He is a role model for all of us. He has become an influential part of who we want to become as adults."

Mr. Hileman is a husband, father and teacher. He is very open in telling students these are his main life priorities. He tells students that no one can take their honor - they have to choose to give it up! Every day, he shows students what it really means to be a good person. He does this by how he treats his students and others around him. He reminds students that each of them have value and purpose. His heart and mind are kind, caring and hopeful. He has dreams and love for students hidden within his high expectations. Simply put, he is the kind of adult students aspire to become.

"Our world needs passionate people with honor who will dedicate their efforts to making a difference. We believe Mr. Hileman is one of those rare and amazing people," said the Rebuild Team. "We have never known someone who has influenced and impacted so many people’s lives. Mr. Hileman inspires us to love life and learning, and to always go above and beyond. He cares about our learning more than grades, but he also teaches us the power of responsibility. He creates opportunities for us while still holding us accountable. His leadership brings people together, and they become a part of his family. He reminds us on a daily basis to never give up and to find our true passion in life. He opens our minds and hearts and frees our spirits… and for that, we love him."



Comments (524)


phil hileman Posted 4 months ago

Your mother raised you right.

Sabrina W. Posted 5 months ago

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! ! ! So excited for you to receive these accolades!

Nancy Douglas Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations for a job WELL done. I wish I had a a teacher like you.

Julianne Long Posted 5 months ago

YES KEIL! You so deserve it! We're all proud of you

Carol Crouch Posted 5 months ago

This is wonderful news, and so deserving! Proud to know you, Keil, and claim you as family! Love, Boo

Allison Hanna Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations Keil!!! Well earned and deserved. Good luck!

Vernon Saunders Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations, my dear friend! So worthy and deserving of this honor. I'm very proud of you!

April Davis Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations Mr. Hileman! You deserve this award as you are the best teacher I have ever encountered. I'm proud of you.

Beth Stoneburner Posted 5 months ago

WHOOP! WHOOP!

Lauren Posted 5 months ago

Congrats I wish you the best of luck in Florida!

Carmen Shelly Posted 5 months ago

Congrats, Mr. Hileman. THANKS for all you do for students and the way you represent USD #232.

Ruth Waggoner Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations, Keil! That is so awesome! This is well deserved. You are one in a million!!

Linda Rumsey Posted 5 months ago

Wahoo for you! The world is So Much better with you in it! You Bless All who know You & are a Shining Light for Goodness!

Amy Hanna Posted 5 months ago

Deserving of so many things! Congrats friend!

Pren Woods Posted 5 months ago

Keil, congrats! I would love to see how you use all those artifacts in your classroom. I am wowed by this. I'll see you in Florida.

Christy Levings Posted 5 months ago

Congrats and well deserved! Wishing you on best now and always!

Pam Lollar Posted 5 months ago

Way to go Mr Hileman!!! Proud proud proud! ??

Jeff Prothro Posted 5 months ago

Keil— Congrats on your award! The world is a better place with you teaching others!

Rebecca Kline Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations for a job well done! What a wonderful honor for you, the schools and your sweet family. I'm honored to have been asked to support you. Many more years of happiness and great successes.

TJ Kuhn-Wichtendahl Posted 5 months ago

Way to go!!

Gena Noyes Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations!!!

Vicki O'Neal Posted 5 months ago

Wahoo!! Hooray!!! Wonderful news! You and your program are so deserving! Really proud of you big guy!!???????????????? Love, Vicki

Kris Jenkins Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations, Keil! I can't think of anyone more deserving! I know that you made a HUGE impact on all three of our children and too many more to even begin to count. Keep on doing the great things that you do! I am so happy for you! P.S. It was fun to read through all of the recommendations and see what kids that I knew "back in the day" had to say! You truly are an American treasure!

Nicolas Williams Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations!

Keil HIleman Posted 6 months ago

This is not a support statement... this is a THANK YOU statement! Reading all of your stories, memories and wonderful comments about our relationships over the past 27 years is truly inspiring to me. You have reminded me that pushing hard each day and going the whole 9 yards is so important. You have shown me every hug, handshake and pat on the back matters. You have inspired to finish my career as strong and impassioned as I started it. Regardless of what happens with this Award.... your notes and comments are gifts beyond value to me. My entire career has given me a sense of hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for the world my own children will grow up in. Hope that we can work together to solve the largest challenges facing our planet: poverty, hunger, education equity, war, disease and pollution. So.. i thought I would share one of the most powerful stories of my teaching career. It involves a cash register and a small village in Sudan. I recorded this 12 years ago......so I would never forget. Teaching & Hope I have taught middle school for 15 years. In the Spring of 2002 I witnessed the single most awe inspiring event of my life. I have no video of that day. I don’t even have any photos of my students from that day. While I do have photos of the many wonderful days that have come since, I would give up all of my teaching awards and teach in quiet anonymity just to have a video of what my students did that wonderful spring day. You would never know who I was and I would have never written this article…. Just to have a video of what I witnessed. I witnessed hope, pure and unbridled hope for our nation, planet, and our future. Our school has a Classroom Museum with a little over 20,000 teaching artifacts. We use these artifacts combined with videos, guest speakers and student created projects to help students connect with what they are learning. I have learned use anything donated to teach our students. I have learned to never say no to a donation. The thing I put into the closet this year becomes an irreplaceable teaching tool the next year. You never know when your state or federal standards are going to change! The 1898 Brass Cash Register We have a 1920’s barber chair, fossils, coins, stamps, model airplanes, trains, kites, dolls, skeletons, clocks, knights in armor and stoves of all kinds. It is not unusual to have things offered to us. When a kind man form De Soto, Kansas called and said he had a cash register we said, “yes.” He warned us that it needed work and was missing pieces. He also told us that it weighed around 350 pounds. I was sure we could find a way to teach with this piece of history. Through many months of research and phone calls we found out our classroom’s register was a “Hallwood” made around 1898. It was made of brass and nickel. It only added up to $5.95, which covered everything in a small candy and cigar shop from that period in American History. We searched and searched for someone to help us clean and fix the machine. We found one man who wanted over $10,000.00 dollars to repair the machine. When we got done laughing we started looking again. We found The HBAC Group in New York. The were excited about the register being in a school and a classroom. They offered to restore, repair and clean the machine at cost. This was still around $1,700.00. Not to mention the crating and shipping fees. The students were not discouraged. We started saving our money and hoped to have enough in around 5 years. So we started locking the money up in a lock box and kept in my bottom drawer of my file cabinet for safe keeping. The Annual African Festival A year and half later we were in the middle of our annual seventh grade “Trailblazer Team” African Festival. Our seventh grade students had read African poetry and plays in Communication Arts. They studied the various life biomes of Africa in Science. Each had completed various problem solving activities associated with African cultures in Math. In Social Studies we had completed our South African Apartheid Unit by watching the powerful and shocking movie, “The Power of One.” Students were now getting ready to share their projects, poetry, costumes, power point shows and cultural food items they had to prepare for the one day festival coming next week. This is when Terry Robins told our team that she knew a man from Sudan who could come and share about his culture, land and what Africa was like. She told us that he could talk about the climate, diseases, the villages and how the live day to day. We signed up for the activity center so all 120 7th grade students on our team could come and hear him speak. The room was packed with student and the five core teachers were strategically located for supervision. Akot Aroc Akot Aroc was a very tall and dark skinned man. His kind smile and brilliant eyes welcomed ours students to sit and listen. His accent was so thick and defined that every student was sitting dead still to understand every word. Akot spoke of Animal herding, house construction, digging wells and various facts of daily living in his village. It seemed like Akot was about to finish when he told us that we may see him in the newspaper next week. If all went well he was going to complete his U.S. Citizenship test and would become a U.S. citizen so he could go back home to help his village with food, clothing and medicine. He hoped his new citizenship would protect him from being killed when he went home. Our students exploded with questions, “Why would they kill you?” “Why do you need to home?” “How hard is the Citizenship test?” “Do we have to take that test?” “How will being a US Citizen protect you?” Akot did what every middle school student wants to have happen. He told them if they quieted down he would listen to them and answer all or their questions. Akot told of the 27 year long Sudanese Civil War. He told them about the hatred of tribe against tribe and Muslim against Christian. He then told us all about the endless killing of his people by armies from the North, and his journey to America as a lost boy taken in by churches in Olathe, Kansas. Akot told us that The Sudanese Government had told all of the southern villages to organize and move south to a border river. They were told there would be no more killing. They were told that their government wanted to help them bet visas and leave Sudan forever. They were told lies. After many months of moving south and gathering into large camps, Akot’s family was ready to leave. Akot told us the government sent tanks and soldiers to kill as many of his people as they could. He spoke of machine guns and bombs. He spoke of panic and death. Akot told us that he had run to the river to escape. He spoke of crawling and swimming through dead bodies. He told us of soldiers throwing hand grenades and shooting machine guns into the bodies floating down stream to kill as many people as they could. Akot spoke of Jump Start Sudan. A relief organization he had started with local churches to help his village. Every student was listening. Many were crying. I was looking at students and at the other teachers. I could see they had the same concerns as me. This was more than we bargained form. We were definitely going to get complaints about this from conservative parents. That is when it happened. The Students Dillon stood up at a lull in the story. Every teacher in the room was ready for chaos. Dillon was that wonderful student we all have that spends more time in In School Suspension than in our classrooms. We were ready for trouble. Dillon simply asked, “Could Akot Leave?” It was not mean or in Malice.. just quiet and pleading. I have learned that middle school students often have compassionate and clever thoughts in their heads but have no means to share them in clear and concise ways. Dillon was still standing while Terry Robins escorted Akot out of the activity center. Dillon turned to the students began to talk. “We are saving money to fix up a old brass cash register. I think we have $900.00 that students have saved for the past 2 years. We are always being told to do the right thing… to make difference.... I think this is one of those times. Akot is going back to save lives and take food and medicine. We can always fix up the cash register later.” Dillon sat down. What I saw next amazed me. Hilary rose out of her seat and said the same thing in her own way. Then Stephanie stood and shared her views as well. I watched 120 7th grade students each respectfully share in their own words why we should give the money to Akot. No one argued. No one was rude. Everyone listed. Each student chose to participate without any direction or guidance from the 4 teachers in the room. Akot and The Money I went to the Museum and got the $900.00. I was crying so hard I could not see or talk. I motioned for Geri Haake the Math Teacher to give Akot the Money. She and all the other teachers waved me off, “No Way!” I asked the first three students who spoke to come up front and asked them to give the money to Akot. They agreed. In all the times I have spoken with Akot, I have never asked him what he thought when he came back into that room. He looked a little uncomfortable. We were all crying and red faced. He probably thought we had been beating the students! A deep silence fell over the students. Dillon, Hillary and Stephanie told Akot about the cash register and the $900.00. They told him they wanted him to have the money for Jump Start Sudan to help his village. That is when Akot began to cry. If there was a dry eye in the room it filled with tears at this point. A round or applause erupts from the students and drowns out all other noises. While thethree students took their seats. Akot raised his hand and the room fell silent. He told us that he had not intended to tell us about his village today. He told us he was overwhelmed with this generous gift. Akot share that we was not sure if Jump Start Sudan would work. It had only become and official organization two days before this presentation. Akot told them he was proud of them as people. He then told our students that they were the first official donor to Jump Start Sudan. A rousing cheer and applauses again erupted from the students. The presentation ended. We had no pictures, no video, just the memory we each left the room with . Students and teachers went back to classes and the number of Kleenex in the building took a huge nose dive. But this was not the end of the event. Word Spreads Akot had only spoken to one of the two 7th grade teams. Word spread like wild fire about what had happened. Soon teachers from the two 6th grade and 8th grade teams were emailing our team to find out how their students could hear Akot. Within the next week both 6th grade teams, both 8th grade teams and the remaining 7th grade team had heard Akot speak. These presentations are the only photos we have from this time period. The students at Monticello Trails Middle School asked to do a school wide fundraiser for Jumpstart Sudan. In two weeks we raised another $1,492.00 for Akot. Only God knows how many piggy banks died during those two weeks. As a history teacher I also find the amount amazing… 1492 a huge date of discovery & controversy. The local newspaper heard of our exploits and came to Monticello trails the day our students presented the check to Akot. A wonderful picture of Akot and the students was on the front page of the local paper. Within the next four months Jumpstart Sudan received over $24,000.00 in donations. The leadership and sacrifice of our students had lead the way to saving Akot’s village. Four Mission Trips There have been four mission trips to Sudan since 2002. They have all focused on the Akot’s village, Aroc and the hard hit Bahr-el Ghazal region. Food and medicine has been sent each trip. A fresh water well and permanent pump were also installed in the village. School supplies and uniforms for students were sent in 2003. A new school and medical facility in Aroc have also been built. The good choices of my students inspired by the passion of Akot Arec are still having an impact on Sudan today. I now realize that all of the units, guest speakers, student driven activities and teachable moments that our school creates really do have an impact on student learning. I have no doubts that all of the efforts teachers across our nation are making every day to teach our children do reach our children. Reaching all of our students at many levels is the premise of every Basic School. I have seen the full power of this in my students, classroom and school. The memories of these events are still having an impact on me today. I see them in my mind and I feel them, in my heart. Now and then, I have one of those “Bad” days all teachers occasionally have and I find myself worrying about my students, our nation and the future of our planet. I even wonder is it all worth the effort. I start to doubt the my blood, sweat and tears are in vain. Then I remember the day little Dillon stood up and spoke from his heart, “We have all been told we can make a difference and make good choices. Maybe this is our time to make a good choice.” This is why I am a professional educator… a Teacher. This is why I still have “Hope.” This is when I begin to cry. Just as I am crying now, while I type these words. I wipe the tears away, take a deep breath and can’t wait to be in front of my students in my classroom on the next day I am blessed enough to teach. ------------------------------------------------------------------ The following years my students sent money to build a clean water well in Akot's Town. We joined heifer international to raise money for goats and cows for villages in India. We later sent money to build two fresh water wells in India. One of our history teacher even took a trip to the townsin India we supported. Teaching Creates Hope! Thanks so much to all of you for teaching me that. I can never say Thank You enough. You have truly given my life purpose.

Jake Posted 6 months ago

I am in Mr. Hilemans 6th grade Museum Connections class this quarter. So the Museum is a fun place to be each day. There are fun people in my class. It is really fun to look around and see what you can recognize. I love studying world war 2. Mr. Hileman has some cool gi joe figures by his desk from world war 2. It is so much fun seeing the Bison head each day. I never expected there would be a giant bison head in my classroom. He says it is for teaching his 8th grade classes. He tells us it was owned by native americans and they hunted it for meat. I love being in this class with Mr. Hileman. It is such a nice environment. I feel happy when I am in here with him. I feel like everyone accepts me for who I am. it is my favorite class by far. I knew Mr. Hileman before I came to this school. boy scouts came to tour the museum and he taught us stories about artifacts and cool displays around the room. He also came and presented to my school in 3rd grade about the american Revolution. He showed us how people used to go to the bathroom in buckets next to their bed if it was to cold out to use a outhouse. Mr. HIleman put his face in the bucket and made gassy poop noise with his mouth and then told us they used to call the buckets Thunder Buckets! We all laughed a lot during his presentation while he was teaching us. I started to think about how much fun I was going to have in 6th grade with him as my teacher. I have heard so many stories of people who can still remember his stories and jokes after all these years. It is crazy to think that Mr. Hileman has put so many memories into their brains that they have a special spot for him. So I think he should be the life changer of the year. You would choose him in a second, If you could get how weird he is and understand how much he cares and inspires people throughout the years of his teaching and he is still inspiring today.

Melissa Flory Posted 6 months ago

My name is Melissa. Mr. Hileman was my 7th grade History teacher. Gosh it was back in 1995-1996 I think. He was the reason I started to enjoy school and wanted to learn. He made learning so much fun and enjoyable. All these years later I tell my son’s all about how awesome of a teacher Mr. Hileman is.

Kelly B Posted 6 months ago

I am a TA for Mr. Hileman and found this letter while sorting through some things and had to add it to the nomination... "Dear Mr. Hileman, Happy teacher appreciation week! I Know that you probably don't expect much from SLT what with you being at MTMS but I hope I prove you wrong. I can say one thing for certain; you have reignited my passion for learning and the overall courtesy that has faded as senior year comes to close. You don't do school like a normal teacher does and I thank you for that." It's honestly refreshing coming into your class everyday. That's not to say that your class is a break from learning or school, it's just different and I can say that as students, we don't stress out coming to your class like we do almost every other class in high school. I think that you understand the monotony that is high school and you try to take a break from that. I've talked to other students in your archeology classes and I know quite a few who are majoring or minoring in archeology because of you. That's the effect you have on us. Also, it's absolutely insane how much you know. I know that seems arbitrary, but it needs to be addressed. I can say with absolute honestly that I'm not one to listen to teachers lecture or talk for long periods of time- and I'm sure others can say that as well- but I know that we could listen to you talk for pretty much all the time you have with us.It's a special gift, it really is, and we are blessed to have you as a teacher. I know you and I aren't necessarily as close as some of the students you have now or have had in the past, but I'm comfortable talking to you about a lot of things that I know most students wouldn't be comfortable talking about with other teachers. I just want you to know that your efforts don't go unnoticed by us students. As much as we struggle to say it because we're lazy teenagers who act like hooligans, we love you as a teacher and we all know now how much we'd be missing out on if you weren't our teacher. And for that, we are incredibly grateful for you and we want you to know how much you mean to us. - A thankful Student (Anonymus)"

Kenzie Posted 6 months ago

My name is Kenzie I'm in his 1st-hour 8th grade Museum Connections class. I have had Mr. Hileman all three years of middle school. At first when I walked in on the first day of 6th grade 3rd quarter and was very intimidated and kinda nervous to start the class but Mr. Hileman made it super fun and enjoyable. Mr. Hileman is a very easy person to talk to and you know that he will be honest with you. He is such a great role model for students around the building and we all love his class!

Kaia Minter Posted 6 months ago

My name is Kaia Minter, I took several of Mr. Hileman's classes throughout middle and high school. I am currently seeking my Master's degree in Theatre & Education, largely due to the immensely positive influence that Mr. Hileman (and so many other wonderful teachers in the district) had on my education. Mr. Hileman is able to model and inspire a passion for learning in his students that extends far beyond the classroom. Now thinking back on the amount of time Mr. Hileman was willing to spend with me after school to help me navigate my mental health as a young person, I can only say that I am truly thankful. I can only hope to be a fraction of the educator/person that he is.

Kaelyn Posted 6 months ago

Hello, my name is Kaelyn R. Iv had Mr. Hilemans class 6th grade, 7th, a summer class, and 8th grade. Mr. Hileman is the best teacher iv met, his classroom makes me feel at home, safe like an escape place. This class makes my anxiety drop which is a relief that I can have that in my life. Homelife can be hard I can tell you that there are days where it can be...tuff. He makes me feel like I have another home which is nice. I don't want this to sound weird but he's kinda like my grandpa...my grandpa moved this year so now he is farther from me, but he kinda isn't because Mr. Hileman makes me feel as if he is here. His stories and the way he teaches is so amazing that Iv never met a teacher that does the same. He feels like a family to me even if it doesn't seem like we are. He means a lot to me and I'm so happy I was able to have his class many times.

Loogan Posted 6 months ago

I am Logan in 8th grade, Museum Connections 1st hour. When I come to Mr. Hileman's class it's just immediate excitement, his class is so diverse just the same as his teaching style. This classroom is like a home away from home to me. I love coming to this class because the way he teaches. He always tells us that emotion creates memory, and it really does. His class is a roller coaster of emotions, we have times where we have a great time, but we also have times where we have to talk about something that is sad to talk about. I remember in 6th grade when I had his class, he would say that we would "resurrect the dinosaurs then we are going to kill them again".

Kate Pfeister Posted 6 months ago

Hello, my name is Kate i have mr Hillmans class 1st hour 3rd quarter. Mr Hileman is one of the teachers that you know cares. Mr Hileman loves to teach and you can tell that he really has a big passion for teaching. His class is one of those classes that you are excited to go to. Rather then craming boring topics into our brain he actually lets us experience things and it really makes you feel like you are in history. Mr hileman cares for other people. He is always trying to make school fun but while he does that we are still learning a ton!

Maddie Posted 6 months ago

Hello, my name is Maddie Martin I have Mr. Hilemans class 5th hour 3rd quarter. This class is so amazing this is my first year at Monticello Trails Middle School. Every day I look forward to coming to this class. I never really liked coming to school I used to never want to come to school but Mr. Hileman and his incredible class have made me want to come to school because there is always something new to learn. I found out about Mr. Hileman through my brother when I was in about 3rd grade I thought my brother was crazy he was always talking about this Mr. Hileman dude and I thought he was crazy. I thought there was no way this existed that in good old Shawnee Kansas there would be a weird museum and a crazy teacher, but one day my brother showed me a picture of the museum and it was real this crazy magical place was real. I forgot about the museum until it came time to pick our electives for middle school. All I remember is the counselor talking bout why we should take the class and how amazing Mr. Hileman was and I then remembered all the things my brother had told me about the class and so I picked museum connections as my tip pick for electives and when I went to go pick up my schedule there it was on my schedule Museum Connections 5th-hour 3rd quarter I had it with all my friends. When the end of winter break approached I was so excited to star \t this new class I had heard o much about. the first day I walked into the classroom I was amazed there was so much to see I picked a seat by one of my friends Jenna. As the class started I paid close attention to make sure I didn't miss anything. As the quarter goes along I love this class more and more I can t wait to take all of my other years. Mr.Hileman is such a great teacher I have learned so much and I have never enjoyed a class so much. I go home every day and tell my parents about all of the things we've done in class and they are always amazed at the different things that I've learned.

DJ Posted 6 months ago

Hello my name is Daneka and i am in Museum Connections im in 5th hour 6th grade. I love being in this class he is really funny. He cares alot about us. He tells us stories about slaves and he is so calm about it and makes us understand what happen and how it is still happening. I just love him

Ainslie Posted 6 months ago

Hi, I'm Ainslie and I'm in Mr.Hilemans 5th hour in 6th grade. The one thing that i love the most about Mr.Hileman's class is that he makes every kid and or adult that walks in his door laugh. I love that he doesn't make all of his students read a text book or watch boring videos, but he plays exciting videos and he does hands on projects. like Mr. Hileman said when you are reading something instead of watching something you don't learn as much because when there is a test and you read something then kids usually just put what the think they know on paper and forget about what they learned.One of my favorite things that i saw this quarter was that he had 2 small canon balls and a piece of paper and smashed the 2 canon-balls together and he burned holes through the paper. thank you sooooo much Mr. Hileman for all that you do and for the smile that you put one my face every day

Elaine Posted 6 months ago

my name is lila and i am in 6th grade 5th hour MR. hileman is one of the best teachers i have ever meet he has the most unique person ever and he always says "i could not have made this museum by himself and everyone one day started to bring things" but i think the reason people started bringing things is because he is such an amazing teacher. if you have had Mr. hileman as a teacher than you would know that you would never want to leave he is so comforting and kind and fun and creative if i listed all the amazing things he is it would take years . he makes me excited and eager to learn new and interesting things. Mr. hileman and his class and museum make excited and happy to go to school one of my friends in my class was sick but wanted to go to Mr. hilemans class. so she went through the first 4 hours and 25 minutes of school just to go to his class in 5th hour and left after our museum connections class. overall Mr. hileman has a vibrant personality and is the best option for this award!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ella Posted 6 months ago

Hi, my name is Ella and i am in 6th-grade 5th hour. I have heard so many AMAZING stories in just 5 weeks of being in his class. Mr. Hielman lets everyone have so much freedom and care! I have never enjoyed school as much as I do in his class!! Heis my favorite teacher ever!!

Evie G. Posted 6 months ago

Mr.Hileman always makes me laugh and have fun. Every day we get to learn new things, my favorite lesson that we have learned is where we got to learn with 8th graders about slavery and the chains they used. Mr.Hileman's class is my favorite class it is the only class that I get excited for when I wake up.

Gabe H. Posted 6 months ago

Keil Hileman's Museum Classroom is the craziest and coolest classroom and it makes me want to learn, have fun, and feel safe. He has opened my mind to tons of new things and the story his room tells is the magic behind it. This is only my 3rd quarter of the 5th week and I already know that this class is going to be the best month(s) of my life. Thank you, Keil Hileman.

isaac Posted 6 months ago

i love this classroom it is amazing when we learn i feel like i am in that timeline i feel like evry day i timetraviling mr hileman makes me feel like i am i red coat or an early man or i am the ice age i like coming to this class so i can learn.

Emily Posted 6 months ago

I am Emily in 7th grade museum connections, My favorite thing about how Mr. Hileman teaches is that he says everything has a story, and if we have a question about something in the room, he will take time to tell us, but also make sure he has time to do everything he needs to do in class. His class is also flexible... Some teachers give us guided notes that we are too busy filling out to focus on what is being taught. He has us do notes, but we can write down whatever we thought was interesting, which is a lot easier, and I feel like I'm retaining more information. I feel that he really cares about his students (including me). He can help us with other homework if we don't understand it. He does this with the 8th graders (mainly math). My favorite part of his class is how he uses a tons of artifacts, movie clips, and cool stories to teach with. My favorite part of the museum classroom is the special desks. Mr. Hileman uses them to simulate an archeological dig.

KRD Posted 6 months ago

My name is Katie Davis, I am in 6th grade and it is my 3rd quarter and my 5th week in Museum Connections. Museum Connections is the best part of my day, Mr. Hileman is one of the best teachers I have ever had. Everyday I come in and always learn something new, and once I go home I always share what I've learned with my family. This has become like a routine for my family pick Katie up from rehearsal, then get homework done, and finally learn about Museum Connections! What I most enjoy about this is outsmarting my dad, thank you Mr. Hileman! My mom always complains about not being able to take the class, she says she would have learned a lot better if teachers back then used the way Mr. Hileman teaches. It's amazing learning about everything in this class, we really got lucky to be able to witness all of the fantastic artifacts around the classroom, but it wouldn't be the same without Mr. Hileman. He makes learning fun and therefore we get a lot more done and always want to learn more. In fact it's so much fun it doesn't even feel like learning at all, time just flies by; and the only thing that could really make Museum Connections better is if we were given more time to be in Museum Connections! Mr. Hileman always tries to tell us as many stories as possible and to make learning really fun and so you can tell he really does care about us. But, what's really special Mr. Hileman is that he could have been anything, in fact I remember coming home from Museum Connections after my first day in his class and bragging to my dad about how great Mr. Hileman was and telling my dad that he could probably be a famous stand-up comedian, and I do believe he really could be, but he chose to be a teacher when he could've probably gotten a job that paid a heck-of-a-lot more; but instead he dedicated his life to coming to school for five days a week to teach us as best he could, but not only does he just do that he goes above and beyond to make learning fun and to make sure that we understand what he is teaching, and I mean just dealing with us 6th graders is enough to make you go crazy, but to provide us with epic projects, mind-blowing videos, and a MUSEUM IN A SMALL CLASSROOM FILLED WITH AWESOME ARTIFACTS you'd have to be like Zeus or something!! But, somehow he is able to do all those things, and I am forever grateful for it! Because of Mr. Hileman I look forward everyday to going to school, even on the weekends (okay, the wanting to go to school on the weekend thing might be a little exaggerated, but it's kind of true.) Museum Connections is both the best part of my day and the worst part, the reason why it's the best part of my day is because, well... didn't you read what I wrote all above this sentence? And, the reason why it's the worst part of my day is because it only lasts 3600 seconds (1 hour) so whenever we hear the alarm go off and we pound our fists against are desks, and Mr. Hileman yells "Rack it, pack it, stack it!" I know we have to leave, that is the worst part of my day, unless my brother eats all the snacks before I get home, of course. THANK YOU MR. HILEMAN, FOR BEING THE MOST AWESOME TEACHER IN THE UNIVERSE!!!

Luci Posted 6 months ago

My name is Luci and I am in 7th grade Museum Connections and everyday I feel so lucky to have Mr. Hilemans class. He is so passionate about what he is teaching about and can answer about every question we ask. And Finally, he will help anybody in need and always makes us feel welcome in the classroom.

Ava Posted 6 months ago

Mr. Hileman is awesome, I always look forward to going to his class, the videos are interesting, the way he teaches is so fun, and I love the topics that he teaches. our homework is really easy, and he helps us with it, he even allows us to stay after school and he helps us with our homework. In conclusion, Mr. Hileman is an awesome teacher and really nice and funny.

Emersyn Posted 6 months ago

I am Emersyn and I am in 7th grade museum connections. This is my first time having Mr. Hileman as my teacher and let me tell you, it is AWESOME. I look forward to this coming to this class and seeing Mr. H every single day because he can put a huge smile on my face in a matter of seconds. He teaches in such a unique way which is so life changing. He uses very cool artifacts and stories which makes learning fun and easy. He tells some amazing jokes which can get me dying on the floor. You can tell anything to him and he will not judge. He will always be there for you and he will never let you down. He inspires so many people and is definitely a life changer. We need way more people like him in this world!!

Makiah Posted 6 months ago

Mr. Hileman is an amazing person and my favorite teacher! Describing his classroom to someone who has never been into it is an impossible task! The room is so full of artifacts from everything A-Z! In fact, there's barely any of the wall showing! The way he teaches is amazing! As a middle schooler, I love picking my partners so I can talk to my friend while working, and he lets you pick your partners! He doesn't believe in pairing the talkative kid with the kid who doesn't talk at all, the dumb kid with the smart kid, the plump kid with the kid who looks like a stick! All in all, I think Mr. Hileman is a great teacher and deserves this award!

Erin&Blake Posted 6 months ago

We really enjoy Mr. Hileman's class. He has amazing humour and is always making our class laugh.

Grayson Posted 6 months ago

I'm a 7th grader and everyday i am excited to go to Mr. Hilemans class. He is very funny and makes learning fun. He has changed my perspective on school to realize school can be very fun.

Audrey Posted 6 months ago

Mr.Hileman has been teaching me for about 5 weeks now. he is my best teacher so far.

Lauren Posted 6 months ago

I am Lauren in 6th-grade museum connections. My favorite thing about how Mr. Hileman teaches is he teaches with videos so that we understand better and we remember it for longer. Mr. Hileman makes me feel happy that I am in his class. My favorite part of his class is when his timer goes off because it just wants you to just laugh. My favorite thing about the classroom is that he has so much in the classroom that he has an extra room, and that there are stories for everything that he has. Thank you, Mr. Hileman.

Lola Posted 6 months ago

My name is Lola and I am in Mr. Hileman's class in 3rd quarter class. Museum Connections is my favorite class because we get to watch videos that you wouldn't be able to see anywhere else. Mr. Hielman is also the BEST teacher because he is so funny, kind, and we can tell that he cares about us all. We always have new topics to talk about, like ancient Egypt, ancient China, and dinosaurs. Thank you, Mr. Hileman!!

Katie Donnelly Posted 6 months ago

Mr.Hileman makes my first class even more bad becuase i am just looking at the clock waiting to go to his class

laney Posted 6 months ago

My name is Laney. I am in the middle of the 5th week of his class. My favorite thing about Mr hillman is that he teaches in ways that I have never seen before and he teachers in the funniest ways. He makes me feel so happy and he makes me laugh so much. MY favorite thing about this class is how cool his class is. I love this class

Landin Posted 6 months ago

Hi, I'm Landin, I am in my fifth week of museum connections I love this class and classroom I really enjoy the video clips and all the artifacts. I really hope I get this class next year and the years after that. Mr. Hileman is really funny and an amazing teacher!

nick Posted 6 months ago

hi i am nick my favorite thing about the museum is all the artifacts and how he teaches. when he teaches it amazing he makes me laugh and i am always exited when i was going to his class. his class is awesome.

Kathy Rasmussen Posted 6 months ago

Keil, I have watched you present your passion to a room full of Girl Scouts and they absolutely loved it! They learned about artifacts, and the history and stories of them. Your stories were so engaging to these 4th graders! They loved your classroom! There was something interesting to look at and learn about on every wall and every shelf! And we thank you because you spent so much of your “free” time after school with them! But I would have to say the highlight of the time with the Girl Scouts was when they were able to “dig” up the bones in the sand desks and learn about the fossils. It was engaging for them to have that creative space to learn! What a treat with you!!

Beverly Reynolds Posted 7 months ago

You sir are amazing, God bless you, Keil, we need more wonderful souls like you in the world. Much love success, Bev

Megan Nagel Posted 7 months ago

As a college senior, I had the opportunity to witness Keil receive the Kansas Teacher of the Year award. I remember sitting in the awards banquet in awe of his magical class. I took a little bit of his magic as I began my own teaching career. Fast forward, 15 years and I found myself as a Kansas Teacher of the Year Finalist standing in his classroom receiving the professional development I have ever received. He passion for education is contagious. You cannot be around Keil for 30 seconds without feeling validated and empowered. He continues to be one of my Eduheros! Thanks for inspiring and guiding us all with your immersive teaching style!

Rachael Chapman Posted 7 months ago

I was extremely lucky to have been a student of Mr. Hileman for both my 7th and 8th grade years. I looked forward to his class every day and he made learning about history fun and exciting. Every item in his classroom has a story and a lesson behind it. There isn't an empty space in the room. As soon as you walk in, you're so in awe that you want to hear about every single of those stories. The fact that you get to not only see a historical artifact close up but also touch it and feel it makes the history behind it that much more real. Mr. Hileman's personality is just as special. His passion for history and artifacts is contagious and makes you want to learn. I still have the binder packed full of lessons and remember facts and stories he shared even 14 years later. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to have him as a teacher and can think of nobody more deserving of this award.

AJ Bailey Posted 7 months ago

I had just finished the museum connections class. this class made me feel like I was at home in my room with all my legos and funko pops. I will miss this class because I will remember all the cool stuff that I learned about. this class will never leave my memory

Dylan Everhart, Gavin Hurt Posted 7 months ago

We had Mr.heilman's second quarter and he has been the best time we have ever had in school. We hate having to take a test so we would rather do projects and that's what Mr.Heilman does. He is the best teacher ever I wish I could have him all year.

Eva Burke Posted 7 months ago

I'm a senior in high school, but even now I remember just how incredible Mr. Hileman and his classes were. His class Museum Connections in middle school was always the most sought after class in the building, and every seat was always full; I can only assume that's the way it is now, too. The moment I stepped into the classroom for the first time I had to take a step back. It's filled to the brim with artifacts, to the point where you can hardly see the ceiling or the walls, spilling out into display cases in the surrounding hallways. It doesn't feel like a classroom, except for the heavy metal desks lining the room, and even those are full of sand, ready to be turned into a makeshift archaeologic dig. Every artifact has a story, and every one, of course, ties into the biggest story, history. These artifacts aren't meant to just be looked at, they're meant for students to touch and see the realness of for themselves. Mr. Hileman turns history into a living, dynamic thing, not something too dry to hold any true meaning. It ties kids into the stories of other people, near and far, whether they lived hundreds or thousands of years ago or are still alive today. Mr. Hileman teaches his subject incredibly well; having a flexible curriculum means that the class can flow with the students' interests, always covering important subjects but still keeping every student interested, in their seats, and learning. But beyond that, he challenges us to question our assumptions of how things were and how they should be today, encouraging students to grow and learn in a safe environment. He truly cares about his students, and if it were possible, everyone should have at least one class with him. He really changes the way people think about the world, both in the past and in the present.

Ella Bowling Posted 7 months ago

My name is Ella and I just finished Mr. Hilemans class. When I came into this class, I thought history was really boring and useless. Now, 4 months later, I really enjoy learning about history thanks to Mr Hileman. Mr Hileman is very different from any other teacher. He doesn't lie to you. He tells you what really happened. I'm always excited to come to Mr. Hileman's class in the morning, and it brightens up my day. I'm going to miss this class so much next semester. Thanks for teaching us Mr. Hileman!

Kaylee Koester Posted 8 months ago

I am a senior in high school and Mr. Hileman is one of the best teachers I’ve had. He engages us with stories and artifacts. It doesn’t feel like an actual class but yet I’ve learned so much being with him. It feels like a new time travel adventure any time I enter his room. Hileman makes me feel safe and let’s me be my goofy self around him. I’ve know him probably longer than he had known me. His daughters are in Girl Scouts and so am I. I have seen him around helping with camp outs and our summer day camp. I’ve have always looked up to him. He is so generous and kind hearted. He is always saying if we need any kind of help we can go to him at any time of day. I think more teachers need to say that more. He cares about his students and it shows. He has given me so much reassurance in myself that I can reach my goals in life. I don’t think I can name a better person for this award.

Avery Posted 8 months ago

I am a 7th grader in Mr.Hileman's 2nd quarter. You actually want to pay attention because he explains things in another way than other teachers. Not only does he teach about history he goes more in debt with stories, movie clips, and artifacts. My favorite part was the dig because we got to learn more with history but it was in a fun activity way. This class changed how I felt because it was the part I look forward to in school, it made the day feel like it when by faster. Even though some people talk to Mr.Hileman more than others he still connects to each of us in a different way.

Hunter Springer Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is unlike any teacher I have ever had. He’s the kind of person that every kid dreams they can have as an educator. While he and my mom were colleagues for over ten years together, I can remember first officially meeting him during my fifth-grade field trip to Monticello Trails in 2012. Although I had heard hundreds of stories from my mom about him and the museum, nothing could have prepared me for the sight I saw when first entering his classroom. I can remember my breath being taken away as I gazed throughout the room in awe. Lining the walls from floor to ceiling is over 50,000 artifacts from the distant past, each item with a story just waiting to be revealed. It is truly impossible to imagine this classroom without having seen it for yourself. As my classmates and I stared dumbstruck at the room around us, a boisterous voice drew our attention. With a wide grin on his face, Mr. Hileman welcomed us to the museum and spoke of the adventures we would have in his class the next year. Thereafter, he allowed us to ask him questions about the artifacts while he explained the history behind each one. In the short amount of time my group and I shared with Mr. Hileman, he made the history fanatic in me go wild. I left his classroom that day craving more, and I was not the only one. For days after our trip to the middle school, Mr. Hileman and the museum were the talk of the grade level. When it came time to enroll for sixth grade, Museum Connections was by far the highest class in demand. I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Hileman throughout middle school and my last two years of high school. It is hard to match the excitement I felt when I received my sixth-grade schedule and saw his name amongst my other courses. Entering his classroom for my first day made my mind race with wonder. I could not wait for what was to come in the quarter ahead. Aside from the thousands of artifacts that surrounded me, another thing that has set Mr. Hileman apart from all my other teachers is his dedication to students. After reading through the syllabus and receiving his number and email, Mr. Hileman emphasized that, if we ever needed anything, to call him. May it be help with homework or difficulty with family or friends, he would be there to lend an ear and ensure we were safe. This action, in and of itself, created an atmosphere of comfort and acceptance. With Mr. Hileman, we could just be ourselves. Those forty-two minutes of his class separated us from our worldly problems and instead allowed us to travel throughout time. Mr. Hileman brings history to life. Unlike other classes where students learn through textbooks and lectures, he teaches through the museum and its artifacts. One of the most impactful lessons to me was our unit over slavery. Simply hearing stories of slavery in a book does not bring to life the horror that holding a slave shackle will about America’s past. During my time spent in Museum Connections and Archeology, history became very real. In my early years, I was introduced to the adult shackles and slave Manila, the currency used to trade slaves. I will never forget the wave of silence that overpowered my archeology class when we were shown the minuscule shackles made for children or the branding iron that was heated over a flame and then place on human skin to declare ownership. A variety of emotions such as anger, disgust, and sadness filled the class. We were in disbelief. Nothing, no textbook, article, or photograph, could have ever left such a lasting impact on every one of us. Despite being shaken from America’s dark past with slavery, everyone within my archeology class agreed that these artifacts need to continue being shown and their stories shared. Mr. Hileman unraveled the ugly bits of history that many textbooks choose to omit. May the class be a quarter or semester-long, students leave with the determination to prevent their ancestor’s mistakes from occurring again. In addition to the hundreds of artifacts Mr. Hileman presents, he also holds quarterly archeological digs. Located in the museum are large customized dig desks where students can experience specialized excavations for each grade. Using specific tools, Mr. Hileman teaches students how to properly sift through the excavation site and properly clean and handle each artifact. Once all items in the table have been revealed, Mr. Hileman sits down with his students and answers all their questions. Though I enjoyed all of Mr. Hileman’s excavations, my favorite would be the eighth grade Civil War battlefield dig. It was at this archeological site that I discovered bullets that were in excellent condition and those that, as Mr. Hileman later explained, were smashed from hitting someone or something. Over the quarter, Mr. Hileman inspires students with his stories and archeological digs for their final projects. While sixth and seventh graders are limited to topics that had been covered in class, eighth graders and high school students have free reign over any topic that interests them. For this assignment, students are asked to write a short paper about anything from history and to create a physical project that they can present to the class. Mr. Hileman encourages all students to have fun during this project and to let their creativity run wild. If any student needs help gathering materials or finding a topic that interests them, he will gladly lend a hand. These projects were always something I looked forward to in Mr. Hileman’s class. Though I have created many physical models over the years, from a Medusa head and trebuchet to creating twenty-minute documentaries about genetic mutations and unsolved murder mysteries, one of my favorite projects consisted of dressing up as Deborah Sampson and sharing her story about fighting in the American Revolution. Mr. Hileman has been one of the most inspirational teachers in my life. He has continuously brought history to life and instills a sense of responsibility for the future in all his students. His dedication to the museum, passion for teaching, and love for his pupils has led to the great success of his career. I can think of no one more deserving than Mr. Hileman of the LifeChanger of the Year Award, and I am proud to recommend such an incredible teacher, mentor, and friend for this honor.

Hannah Baker Posted 8 months ago

I feel tremendously lucky to have had Mr. Hileman in his last year teaching 7th grade history and his first year teaching his incredible Museum Connections class. He exudes passion for teaching and makes that history real for students with the use of museum artifacts. It’s one thing to read about slavery in and textbook but it’s something else entirely to hold a real slave collar in your hands and feel its physical and emotional weight. Middle school was also quite tough for me and I felt home in his classroom even long after I left Monticello Trails Middle School. Mr. Hileman is beyond deserving of this award.

Reagan Posted 8 months ago

I am in 6th grade at Monticello Trails Middle School and I loved Museum Connections class. I like how Mr. Hileman makes learning fun. And he has bookshelf's full of artifacts and the way he teaches is way different than normal social studies and Evan though I just had him for 1 quarter it was fun Thank you, Mr Hilman, for being the best teacher you can.

Mary Petropoulos Posted 8 months ago

I had the pleasure of taking Mr. Hileman's classes in both my middle school and high school years, and he is absolutely one of the most outstanding educators that I have come across. Mr. Hileman has the ability to engage students in a way that is rare and extraordinary. For myself and many other students, Mr. Hileman's class helped us get through the toughest of days. His history lessons were in-depth, exciting, and his hands on teaching style gets students excited about learning. In addition to that, Mr. Hileman taught us endless lessons in life skills that I have taken with me outside of the classroom. Mr. Hileman's creativity in the classroom inspires students and gets them excited about learning, and should be adequately supported so that he can continue changing the lives of each student who walks through his door. I can think of no one who is more deserving of this award.

Kristen Springer Posted 8 months ago

I have known Keil Hileman for over twenty years as a colleague, parent, & friend. I first met Mr. Hileman twenty-two years ago when I entered his classroom as a special education teacher. Just like the children he teaches I was immediately astonished and intrigued by the thousands of artifacts that covered bookshelves, hung from the ceiling, and were posted on the wall. Keil is an incredible educator, remarkable mentor, knowledgable leader, & caring friend. His teaching style appeals to all learners as he masterfully crafts lessons incorporating his museum of visual artifacts with daily historical stories, video clips, archeological digs, and guest speakers connecting the students' present knowledge to both past events as well as future hopes and concerns. He further appeals to his students' strengths by making accommodations and modifications to address their areas of need as well as meeting with students before and after class providing them with the individualized attention so many desperately need. The students love Mr. Hileman because of the compassion he shows for them & his ability to bring history alive the moment you enter his classroom. Throughout the years I have witnessed the love and respect shown for Mr. Hileman by many students as well as my own three children. My oldest daughter not only took Museum Connections throughout middle school but she also had Archeology I and II with Mr. Hileman in high school. She then went on to work as his Teacher's Aide during her Senior year. One of her most memorable projects was dressing up & sharing important historical information about Deborah Sampson, a woman who disguised herself as a man to bravely fight in the American Revolution. My younger daughter also recalls a final project she completed making an Egyptian pyramid out of Rice Krispie treats. Before sharing the delicious treat with the class, she told them about several important facts she had learned during her pyramid research. One of the most significant impacts an artifact still has on my daughter to this day involves two large water jug refill bottles filled with rice. During a lesson on World War II, Mr. Hileman shared that each grain of rice represents one person killed during the war. This is an image she will never forget. The shear number of rice grains needed to fill the multi-gallon jugs was nearly incomprehensible. Yet, the rice represented human lives. For a single moment in a Shawnee classroom, history suddenly became very real. Mr. Hileman is one of the most influential teachers both of my older children have had throughout their educational careers. His dedication, enthusiasm for teaching, compassion for students, and amazing sense of humor makes learning fun! My youngest son, like many of his sixth grade peers, entered middle school last August eagerly anticipating the day he will enter Mr. Hileman's inviting and engaging classroom, Museum Connections. The day is quickly drawing near as the fourth quarter approaches, and he can hardly wait for the adventures ahead! It is my honor to recommend Keil Hileman for the LifeChanger of the Year Award. He is most deserving of this special honor. I have no doubt that his legacy and the Museum will continue to impact the lives of his students, continuing to instill a passion of lifelong learners for many years to come.

Dr. Marilyn C. Layman Posted 8 months ago

I have known Keil Hileman since 1989 when I became Superintent of Schools for USD 232, DeSoto School District, DeSoto, Kansas. He was a teacher then and as I soon learned, a most inspirational, knowledgeable , and devoted professional! He had a unique talent that enabled him to reach into the heart and soul of his students. And as our professional relationship extended through the thirteen years I was his superintendent , I was blessed to see him inspire learners of all ages and all ability levels. Keil taught college level classes as well as across the spectrum of the adult learning community! His talents earned him the recognition as Kansas Teacher of the Year and he reached National Teacher level acknowledgement! His drive and energy led him to create, maintain and grow a Classroom Museum themed , Historical artifact course for middle school. But it has extended all expectations for successful teaching of history! As students became so connected and motivated to the research and discovery of historical artifacts, their relationships to Mr. Hileman’s teaching technique as well as the amount of knowledge and inter-related , cross discipline knowledge they were acquiring was phenomenal!!!!! Students and their parents demanded to benefit from his classes! The sheer volume of items collected by Mr. Hileman and his students as well as the volume of artifacts and treasures donated by community members, prompted the school district to a) increase the size of his classroom and storage needs, b) but find ways to broaden his course offerings to students across the district . Mr. Hileman’s initial class offerings were confined to the “side” of the district and geographic region of his teaching assignment. Board of education support soon provided ways for students across the district to benefit! I retired from the Superintendency in 2003. But my involvement with Keil and his family ( parents, his wife and children) have continued through the years with social activities, church and related activities , and being neighbors. I have seen Keil in his role as father and husband; as Sunday school teacher and counselor; and in his community service and participation!!! Mr. Hileman is one of the most creative, resourceful, tireless and dedicated educators I’ve ever encountered in my 35 year career in education! He is most deserving of every acknowledgment of his talent and capabilities he can accrue!

Cliff Ferrell Posted 8 months ago

I have taught in the same building as Mr. Hileman for twenty six years. I have watched him grow from a first year teacher teaching in a mobile classroom with bare walls and traditional student desks to his current museum with countless artifacts and sand tables for archaeological dig projects. Without a doubt, Mr. Hileman and his treasure trove of teaching tools has grown over the years, but the one constant has always been Mr. Hileman's desire to see kids succeed and learn. He routinely meets with kids before school to help them catch up and succeed in other classes. Kids think the world of him and he wants the world for them. He definitely has changed many lives for the better over the last twenty six years and thankfully he is still using his love of students and his museum collection to invest in and shape kids lives today.

Alex M. Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman was an amazing teacher this quarter for me! I'm in 6th grade, and I have never learned so much about history in my life! It was interesting, fun, and very exciting! It was a very exciting class to come to each day! We got to touch ancient artifacts, watch videos, movies, and a bunch more awesome things we did in Museum Connections with Mr. Hileman! He is truly the best teacher I have ever had. I, personally loved the 2nd quarter as a 6th grader in his classroom. I am definitely taking this class with him in 7th, and 8th grade, and of course High School! Thank you- Alex M.

Kennedy Goertz Posted 8 months ago

I've only had Mr.Hileman for about nine-ish weeks and i feel like I've had his class for a year or more. Every day there's a different story and there not just stories for history their stories from his life as well. It makes the classroom feel relatable and welcoming. I believe his class is a favorite by most not because of what he teaches but how he teaches. If it was a different teacher the room wouldn't be the same. It's his personality that makes the class enjoyable. His class is the time I look forward to in my day, not because in have friends in his class but because of the room its self. We laugh every day, learn, and so much more. He is a great person and he may not know who I am because of how quiet I can be but, I find my time in his class extremely enjoyable.

Dustin Springer Posted 8 months ago

As I reflect on the qualities that every parent would want in a teacher for their child, Mr. Hileman's name and smile immediately enter my mind. I have known Mr. Hileman for nearly twenty years, at first as a friend and now, years later as an inspiration to two of my children with the third pacing in the wings in anticipation of joining his Museum Connections class this year! Mr. Hileman is a champion for children! His dedication to ensuring that his students AND THEIR FAMILIES are able to relate to OUR history - the good, the bad, and the ugly - through interaction with historical pieces in the museum is inspiring! It is one thing to go to a museum and see an artifact, but Mr. Hileman believes in the power of handling these items and relating a story. His storytelling builds empathy and understanding and makes us ALL better people. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Hileman is deserving of this recognition and I would encourage you to not only read the other comments but truly let them sink in and listen to the admiration and appreciation that so many supporters are sharing! Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like more information or I can share even more personal stories about this one in a million teacher, educational hero, and friend!

Avery Posted 8 months ago

I am a 7th grader in Mr.Hileman's 2nd quarter. You actually want to pay attention because he explains things in another way than other teachers. Not only does he teach about history he goes more in debt with stories, movie clips, and artifacts. My favorite part was the dig because we got to learn more with history but it was in a fun activity way. This class changed how I felt because it was the part I look forward to in school, it made the day feel like it when by faster. Even though some people talk to Mr.Hileman more than others he still connects to each of us in a different way.

Brekhan Posted 8 months ago

I'm a seventh grader I just finished being in Mr. Hileman's class for about 9 weeks. He makes your school day exciting, I always looked forward to going to his class. He tells you great stories, he teaches yo everything you need to know in a very unique way. I have only had his class for one year and I am already in love it is amazing. Mr Hileman has a great humor he is always making every laugh. I would have not enjoyed this class without him teaching it. Thank you for all you do Mr. Hileman!

alex Posted 8 months ago

im a seventh grader and he is really fun and he tells you fun story's about deferent things in history.

Dylan Posted 8 months ago

I'm a 7th grader who finally got this class this year. everybody who has already had this class says it's amazing. The way he teaches is really cool. The way he teaches makes you excited to go to this class which doesn't happen in the other classes that my comment.

Grace K Posted 8 months ago

I'm a seventh grader, who just finished his class. Mr. Hileman is the coolest teacher I have ever met! He knows how to teach a class without boring, students. If I could take one class for the rest of my life, it would be his class. There are only a few classes I enjoy but his is number one! Without him I wouldn't enjoy as much as I do now. If I could do anything to help him win I will, he's is the best teacher ever and I really, really hope he wins. Please make it happen!

Mariel C Posted 8 months ago

I'm a 7th grader, I like the way Mr. Hileman teaches, he makes digs special for each grade in custom desks, I had had him for 6th grade and this year so I have almost had him for 20 weeks. I know him very well his personality is hilarious and it is very fun to be in his class. I will miss having his class. I have had him for two years in a row and his class is in high demand so I thought that I will have his class again. I'm thankful that I had gotten his class as it is.

Reagan Posted 8 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for 7th grade this year, and he was great. He made everyone feel comfortable and happy. He made everyone laugh and have a great time. He knows exactly how to make every kid enjoy his class, and help everyone with their problems. Thanks Mr. Hileman!!

Reese Posted 8 months ago

I'm a 6th-grade student at Monticello trails middle school just about to finish his class but all I have to say is that Mr. Hileman is about the best explo teacher you could ever ask for because when stuff happens at home it's tough to handle but then when I walk into this class I feel free and happy to actually be there at school but then when I leave the class I feel so happy that I went to that class I have a lot more I would say but I really can't name them all so I hope you all will continue to nominate Mr.Hileman

Aiden Harb Posted 8 months ago

Im a 7th grader at Mt and hes a good and funny teacher

Parker Posted 8 months ago

My name is Parker and I have been a student of Mr.Hileman for 3 years now. In 5th grade, we got to choose our electives. There were around 5 different electives to chose from (other than music or choir) and I read the description of the class and it said this was a hands-on learning class that you would learn about artifacts. This description intrigued me to chose it as I think my 2nd choice. Little did I know that that description was very shallow. The first day I walked in and took a seat, he said: "I have 100 things to show you, but only time for 25." (This statement was modified because it was a visual quote and i cant do visuals on a comment). I was like that's a lot of stories, and I didn't think he could do it... I was wrong. 3 years later and I still was learning new stories about artifacts. (There were some repeated due to the probability of getting into this class 3 times in a row was very unlikely). This class has inspired me to do things I wouldn't normally do and I wish that everyone had the opportunity to be in this class, listening to stories with the best teacher I know.

Drew Yockey Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman teaches me now in 6th grade at Monicelllo Trails Middle School and the last 9 weeks I have had him as a teacher and has been a great teacher. He has always been there for anybody at our school. Mr. Hileman tells us stories about so much history about pyramids and ancient places. His sense of humor is always funny and such a nice person. Right now I am in his class and this is the last day in his class this year and I will always remember all about him and what a great teacher he is. Mr. Hileman always changed my day if I have a bad day and he always put a smile on my face. Now that i took this class i am so much more into history. Mr. Hileman is definitly a life changer because he is always there for us and will never let us down. You can tell he loves to teach just the way he acts. I really hope I get this class next year.Thank you Mr.Hileman for all that you have done

Ian Posted 8 months ago

My name is Ian, and I am a 6th grader at Monticello Trails Middle School who just finished Museum Connections World History Part 1. I will miss Mr. Hileman's class very much because he made us laugh every day. Every story was amazing and impactful. I wish I could have him all year but this quarter was really fun. Mr. Hileman deserves to be LifeChanger of the year.

Noah Kim Posted 8 months ago

I'm a sixth grader in Mr. Hileman's 5th hour I like the way he teaches because he is really funny and he's able to explain everything correctly. His sense of humor is great he's always making me laugh and everyone else as well. This is also my last day until winter break and I really will miss this class. I will strongly advise my brother to take this class. Thanks for a great quarter Mr. Hileman!

Mackenzie Posted 8 months ago

I knew that I wanted to be in Mr. Hileman's class before I even started 6th grade. I knew I wanted to be in his class because I had heard so many good thins about the class from his former students. I can tell that he really enjoys sharing his knowledge about artifacts, Ancient Egypt, and so much more. Mr. Hileman is a life changer because his class is very unique. He is a very kind teacher and you can tell he really cares about the students. Every day I look forward to coming to this class. I love museum connections and I am going to miss it very much.

G.G.Whalen Posted 8 months ago

I am a student at Monticello Trails Middle School I was in this class 2nd Quarter. I learned much more than I did in normal social studies because He has real artifacts that you remember. He tells you things you would never hear in your normal classes. he is like a second father to me, he is serious about things that are scary to lots of people, he makes it feel more calming. He has the coolest classroom! He is the best!!!

lydia Posted 8 months ago

I am a 6th grader at Monticello trills middle school. I love the way he teaches it is so entertaining and he teaches in a way that is apeling. I love him he is my favorite teacher. his sense of humor is amazing it makes me laugh when I am having a bad day. he is the only teacher that can make me laugh. he is a hug life charger he has made me love history and I don't like history but he has the coolest way of teaching us. he always lets us know that he cares about us and loves us and he is so caring and he will always be there for us when we need him.

Tristyn Posted 8 months ago

Before I started this class, I really didn't think that I would ever like social studies. I am a 6th grader at Monticello Trails Middle School. Just recently I started in Museum Connections for 2nd quarter, and ever since Mr. Hileman is a life changing man. He always have a sense of humor, or as he says "saucy". I love him because he is such an amazing, inspirational, incredible, sarcastic, man i have ever met. He has been through so much in life and he still is up, happy, and giddy. He is always so honest and trustworthy with anything. He has saved lives and he should get more attention for it. All Mr. Hileman wants is for people to be happy and be themselves, he would never discriminate, push down, hurt, or do anything purposely to hurt anyone unless its for someone else's protection. He is everyones favorite teacher and he is probably mine too. If he wasn't here I have no idea where i would be in life right now. In conclusion, Keil Hileman is such a life changing man and forever will be.

Gage Henrich Posted 8 months ago

Mr.Hileman is a great teacher, and the way he teaches is way different than normal social studies. I like how he has the artifacts to teach. He makes learning fun while in normal social studies you'll just forget it after the test and homework. He is funny and makes school more fun and safe. He is definitely one of the best teachers I've ever had.

Jenner Posted 8 months ago

I am a 6th grader that just finished Mr.Hileman's class. The way that he shows his care for us is amazing. All of the artifacts in his room tells a story. The way he tells about the artifacts and facts is just so different, but some much better. Every day when I come to his class, I feel like I could do anything. He has the best stories on everything. Thank you for all you do Mr. Hileman. You are the best person ever.

C.J.P. Posted 8 months ago

The way Mr.Hileman teaches is amazing I have learned so much more than what I learn in regular history (or Social Studies) and his sense of humor is awesome and he is the best teacher I have ever had. Next semester will probably be so boring. when I am in 7th grade I will sign up the first chance I get.

BJ Posted 8 months ago

Thank you so much for a wonderful year. You make me want to come to school every day. I have had so much fun in the nine months. You have taught me so much about history and life millions of years ago. You make everyone in my class laugh and you bring joy to everyone. Thank you so much!!!

Macy B Posted 8 months ago

So, my parents got divorced about 3 years ago and it's been very hard. They told me it was so they would stop fighting but that did not happen. My dad really hasn't been there for us for about 2 and a half years we only saw him 2 times a week tops. Which I started getting used to but over this summer it changed to half and half and now it's hard going with him for that long. But when I go to Mr. Hileman's class it takes my mind off the stuff going on at home. Mr. Hileman's class is a class that makes me feel loved and cared for. He doesn't just care about himself he cares for others like their his family. I have to go to therapy every once in a while for what's going on at home and Mr. Hileman's class is the one class I don't want to miss but going to Mr. Hileman's class before I have to leave for therapy makes me feel like it will be ok and I wil get threw the day i'm going to miss his class so much and miss his jokes, humour, and comfort.

Jaxton G Posted 8 months ago

I am in Mr.Hileman's class second quarter in 2019 and his class has changed my life and got me interested in many things like ancient Egypt, ancient China, Dinosaurs, etc. I love walking into Mr.Hilemans because it is nothing like any other room, with all of the artifacts and many other interesting things. I love Mr.Hilemans class I believe he should win because he can get more artifacts and fix somethings up!

AJ Bailey Posted 8 months ago

I had just finished the museum connections class. this class made me feel like I was at home in my room with all my legos and funko pops. I will miss this class because I will remember all the cool stuff that I learned about. this class will never leave my memory

marshall Posted 8 months ago

your a awesome teacher and I going to miss you next quarter you are a smart teacher and i miss your class and i will always be your student and i miss watching your videos and doing sand with you and you are funny AND KIND i love the stuff andi love sharing things with you he was my explo teacher i had him 2nd hour and he is kind

AJ Bailey Posted 8 months ago

I had just finished the museum connections class. this class made me feel like I was at home in my room with all my legos and funko pops. I will miss this class because I will remember all the cool stuff that I learned about. this class will never leave my memory

cadence Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman always make me laugh and enjoy school a lot more than I have ever thought was possible I am a student and I have been with him for 9 months I enjoyed all the way

MILES Posted 8 months ago

I like his class. The digs are really fun, and he has lots of great jokes! He also has a nice buffalo head on the wall and lots of neat things on the shelves.

Ed Posted 8 months ago

I just finished Mr.hilemans class the class I've done for 9 months now Mr.Hileman is by far the best teacher iv had I've never been in a class like this, his class makes me feel comfortable and makes me want to speak out more. It's so refreshing not having to do worksheets and being able to really experience and live in these times instead of just regurgitating information for the test. the projects are so creative and I love the idea. he is really a great goofy man, my siblings and I are very happy and grateful to have gotten the chance to have his class I wish every kid had the chance to experience this.

Steven Butler Posted 8 months ago

I love Mr.H! I am a six-grade student in his class. We just finished our class of 9 weeks and I don't want to leave his class. I respect Mr. H because we are similar. We have bost lost our mothers in recent years both to cancer. Mr.Hileman has got me threw so much pain in these past 9 weeks. He gets me away from life and makes me happy. He has made me a better person inside and out. He is the best teacher ever, and he is my life-changer.

Lily F Posted 8 months ago

The way Mr. Hileman teaches is amazing! He's really funny and he never really gets mad. He is the best teacher and the school wouldnt be the same without him.

Chayce J Posted 8 months ago

i think this was my best quarter this year because he is one of the best teachers in the school and made it worth wanting to go to school i loved being in his class this year.

Caleb Posted 8 months ago

I just finished the nine weeks of Mr. Hileman's class. Mr. Hileman's class is always a high of my school day. If you get bored in his class then you have been there for 5 years.

Olivia Moore Posted 8 months ago

I'm Olivia Moore I am in the 8th grade I just finished Mr.Hileman's class. Museum connections is my favorite class because it is so much fun and you learn so much by the way he teaches. I use to not like history because I had no interest in it but when I had museum connections I really enjoyed it because of Mr. Hileman and the way he makes it fun. Mr.Hileman is always there for students that are going through a rough time. People come into this class really tired but when you go out you are awake and not tired. Thank you for being a teacher Mr.Hileman.

Sebastian S Posted 8 months ago

Hello, I'm Sebastian and I have just finished his class this semester. I have had the luck of the draw and had him in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. He has inspired me in many ways and I feel safe in his room. He is my favorite teacher that I have ever had.

tyler.t Posted 8 months ago

my name is tyler Hillman tot me for three yers he changed my life the humer the histore it is amazing he helped me through the three yers my dad devost with my mom in my sixth grad year that was the hardes year of my life and he helped me through that I felt great with him he made me for get the sad times he definetle shaped my life a lot in the best way ever I could have gone to a different midelshcool i would not be like I am to day.

Kenzie Posted 8 months ago

I've had Mr. Hileman as a teacher this past semester, and he's definitely a teacher that I will never forget, he's taught me so many things about archaeology and history and has made me more interested in history than I've ever been. I've been to summer camps of his, and I finally got his class this year. His class is so much fun!

Evan Mack Posted 8 months ago

Mr.Hileman was a great teacher that actually inspired me to learn. He teaches in a unique way that I will not forget. In a math test, you learned a lot over the years. Take the test and soon as you leave the room you forget everything learned. But in his class, I actually remember because he teaches in a cool way. When I walk in his class I feel safe walking in. when I am troubled can this walk-in because he's open to anything. He is this an open person who is willing to help and puts himself out. He loves what he does and he inspires a lot of people. I actually got inspired by him to teach the next generation. He is a great person that inspires a lot of people and a great role model for me.

AI Posted 8 months ago

hello my name is aleena. And every day i walk in and smell this rusty amazing warm homie smell. and i think its a different vibe I get when I walk in here. I like to let all my worries go. especially in here. I Struggle with focus people make fun of me for the most stupidest thing. I don't even care honestly if they make fun of me. I wake up in the morning to come to school because I look forward to coming here. mr. hileman is funny nicely humerd and like to mess with you with grown up humor which I love. and I understand it.

Emma Hicks Posted 8 months ago

He has been an amazing teacher the past two years. He is someone that I can always count on. He has taught us many things, he is someone any student can go to about anything. Him and his classroom is somewhere we all feel okay, we aren't scared to ask certain things. I am sad to be leaving his class but he has helped us and made us better people. I enjoy his stories not only about history but his family and friends, it's interesting to hear about everything. I hope he gets nominated because he definitely deserves it more than anyone !!

Ella Hansen Posted 8 months ago

Mr.Hileman is a good teacher he a very good teacher. He has taught all of us a lot he makes jokes which i think can help me learn a lot better. He has been teaching for over 25 years which I think is kinda cool because, I have a cousin which now is in college and he still remembers her so, Mr.hileman can remember people very well. So I think he is a very good teacher.

Chase Parker Posted 8 months ago

I think Mr. Hileman is one of the best teachers if not the best I've ever had. He tutors and helps me on HW when I need it, he teaches interesting stuff, and he tells interesting stories. Thank you for helping me and being there for me Mr. Hileman.

Xavier Anson Posted 8 months ago

I am Xavier Anson museum connections is the only class I actually enjoy.It makes me excited to go to school.

Kira Posted 8 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman as a teacher over 16 years ago. He is one of those teachers you never forget. You can tell he teaches because he loves it. Will never forget going to Washington DC with Him and the class. History was never my thing and I spent many days before and after school getting extra help and he was always there. Thanks for all you do Mr. Hileman!

Philliip Rogers Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is truly a one of a kind teacher. I had Mr. Hileman for 7th grade social studies. When I first walked into his classroom/museum I knew I was in the presence of a great teacher. Mr. Hileman found ways for everyone in the classroom to get involved and to succeed too. He always presented you will the facts over the topic and let you find your way to the answer. It was because of Mr. Hileman that I decided that I wanted to major in history in college. He opened my mind to many new topics and made me want to find the whole story out. Mr. Hileman is one in a million!

Chase Midyett Posted 8 months ago

I was a student of Mr. Hileman's all throughout middle school at Monticello Trails, then I took his Archeology with him again my senior year of high school at Mill Valley. I'm a senior about to graduate from the University of San Francisco, and I've still never met a teacher who cares so passionately about his job and the students that he teaches. I'm sure people have said this since the beginning of his career, but he makes learning fun, which is the greatest achievement any teacher could ever accomplish. When you learn to appreciate learning and the fun that it involves like Mr. Hileman preaches, you start to understand just how amazing education and knowledge truly is. I have learned a great many things from Mr. Hileman, but the most important thing I've ever learned from him is that when you truly care and put forth 100% effort into something you love, then good things will come your way, as well as a happy and fulfilled life. No surprise this guy was nominated for this award and I'm honored to have been a part of his incredible teaching career. Keep doing you Mr. Hileman and much love.

Cassie Lemmon Posted 8 months ago

I have had the opportunity to be taught by a handful of extraordinary teachers, Keil Hileman was one of those teachers. Before I took his class in middle school (many years ago) I wouldn't have considered myself a fan of history. Upon walking in to his classroom filled with artifacts and a ceiling filled with flags I knew that I would learn to love history. His passion for the subject partnered with his teaching style, made every single day spent in his classroom interesting and thought provoking. Mr. Hileman helped shape me into a better student, which in turn helped me grow into the adult I am today. At my place of employment we have a wall with rotating questions where we are encouraged to write a response. They range from, "What's your favorite place in Kansas city to visit during the holidays?" To "Which one of our values do you identify with the most?" Recently a question was asked "Which teacher, mentor or friend has inspired you and why?" It didn't take me long to answer with two teachers Mr. Hileman was one, my why: because he taught me how to see the world around me, and how to go back in time to see the history of the world around me. He taught me that everything and everyone has a history. He taught me to stay curious. The world needs more teachers like Keil! I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to sit in his classroom many years ago.

Hannah Hilton Posted 8 months ago

I never had the chance to have Mr. Hileman in class, but I personally know many students who were impacted by him. Mr. Hileman brings such a unique experience to the DeSoto school district that truly is something so special and impactful to all of his students. He is an amazing teacher and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award!

Roger and Mary Ann Garcia Posted 8 months ago

Mr Hileman was instrumental in our sons life. He stepped in and offered counsel because we knew he would listen to him. Mr Hileman even came up with the “Justonian Code”. Justin loved the museum. Bragged about how cool his teacher was we could see what a positive impact he had on our son. Justin is a successful young man now and we know that Mr Hileman was an intricate part. Thanks

Alexis Krist Posted 8 months ago

Mr Hileman is a great teacher he and made going to class worth it. Going to class to learn was fun and interactive. Thanks to him I love history and will always remember him. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher!

Tiffany Posted 8 months ago

I had Mr Hileman as a Middle School Teacher. He always made History fun. I remember him showing us clips about Pearl Harbor and how it impacted so many lives. Especially during 9/11. He let us watch the news to see what is going on in our own History. I even donated some of my dads Airforce patches to his Museum. He made learning fun and enjoyable. I hope His museum continues to build and teach more generations.

Sophie Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is an amazing teacher! He makes my friends and I laugh every time we walk into class. I loved having him as a teacher this quarter!

Erin Vancil Posted 8 months ago

I met Keil Hileman in 2003 when he was nominated and then became the Kansas Teacher of the Year for 2004. He is a true life changer, not just for a year, but always. While traveling with Keil and the rest of the KTOY team to speak with groups across Kansas, I experienced his ability to connect with students, adults, pre-service teachers, legislators, and colleagues. I was not immune to his talent either. He made me believe that I could overcome my fear of meeting new people and be a contributing member of a team. I do not understand how all that is possible, but he truly has life changing gifts. As an educator, Keil understands that students learn history best when actually handling artifacts from our past and using stories about those artifacts, instead of just reading about it in textbooks. Actual artifacts make a huge impact in engaging students and helping them understand the impact of history and how it has evolved our society. The life changing title fits Keil because he takes the time to use his gifts and talents to get students excited about learning. He makes the time to maintain a collection of artifacts that come to him because he spends the time to talk to people about history and touches the lives of the person donating the artifacts. Keil also takes time to reach out to other teachers, inviting them to visit his classroom, introducing those teachers to a very effective teaching tool. Students need, we all need, what Keil has to give. Keil has changed and continues to change lives. Maybe as importantly, Keil takes the time to share his gifts.

Ben Baumann Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is truly on another level, when it comes to educating and inspiring young minds. I can speak from first-hand experience, having been a student of his class two years in a row for both high school archaeology courses he taught. As a teacher, he is one of a kind, he uses countless artifacts to connect with his students and makes topics come to life, this combined with his comedic personality makes him a dynamic teacher. I suppose though, the best way to describe how great of a teacher he was for me, is by describing the feeling students had when going to his class. For many students going to class, especially in high school is not necessarily something you look forward to, in fact at times it can be dreadful. But for Mr. Hileman's class that feeling was non-existent, there was consistently genuine excitement among his students, which I cannot emphasize enough and the reason for this was that Mr. Hileman didn't make us feel like we were in school, rather it felt like we were hanging out with him and discussing history and archaeology. In reality, though, we were doing so much more than that. We were absorbing vast amounts of information over many interesting and relevant topics, without even realizing it. Simply put, he made learning easy. Because, overall his class went way beyond just writing essays and doing presentations over topics, he helped students develop these spirits of inquiry that are so rarely found in a classroom, because his passion for the subject was so strong and inspiring it was contagious. In turn, it just didn’t feel like learning at all, it just was just fun and I can personally vouch for this, not just because I was a student in Mr. Hileman's class, but because how he influenced my life and by being a firsthand witness to his commitment to helping inspire his students and supporting them anyway possible. For instance, after I graduated high school I went to college and majored in history and took part in multiple archeological excavations around the world. I then would continue my passion for history and archaeology into graduate school and I now practice history professionally as a historian. And I know that none of this would be possible if it weren't for the incredibly influential figures in my life like Mr. Hileman, who was the embodiment of what a teacher should be and more. I obviously cannot speak about any other nominees for this award, but I have no doubt Mr. Hileman is deserving of this and a choice that can’t go wrong.

Kylie Posted 8 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman as my 7th grade history teacher and I am so thankful for this incredible man. Not only is he an excellent educator, but he genuinely cares about students. Being a shy kid, his classroom was a sort of refuge for me in the crazy world that is middle school. He encouraged me to ask questions that I would have normally kept to myself for fear of sounding stupid. Not only did he always help answer my questions, he taught me how to utilize different resources and look for answers on my own as well. After I was no longer in his class and some personal issues caused me to fall behind in my other classes, he made himself available to help me to ensure I would succeed. Mr. Hileman truly invests in each and every student he comes in contact with, regardless if they are in his class directly. Even though I haven’t kept in touch with him over the years, to this day, his passion for teaching and constant encouragement to continuously pursue new knowledge is an inspiration to me.

Stacy Smiley Posted 8 months ago

I believe Mr. Hileman is as dedicated and passionate about teaching history through the hands on us of artifacts as anyone you'll find. Combine his passion for history with his compassion for his students and Mr. Hileman is very deserving of this award. He has absolutely gone above and beyond to touch and impact the lives of his students.

Kevin Smiley Posted 8 months ago

As a former colleague of Mr. Hileman’s I have see his daily work in the classroom as well as his efforts to extend beyond the walls of school and create lifelong learners with his annual trip to Washington DC. His enthusiasm and positivity are infectious with his students and is what has led him to be honored with this nomination. As a colleague he would encourage me to borrow artifacts for my Social Studies class knowing the difference it would make in the teachable moment. Keil also invited me as an assistant on his DC trips three times. The energy he puts into the trip makes it a lifelong memory for anyone who is able to attend. I remember my first trip; we were stranded at Chicago O’Hare due to an early winter storm and had to sleep in the terminal because we missed our connecting flight. Mr Hileman was the last to sit down for the night and the first one awake in the morning as he made new plans for the day. The trip is an amazing experience that cannot be replicated. Later on, when life’s adventure took me two hours away to a new district, Keil used a personal day off to bring a trunk load of artifacts to my new school and shared his gift with a new batch of captivated learners. Included with his passion for students is his love for his family. He would always speak about them and his love for their individual antics. Keil is a true life changer for his students, colleagues and his family and is very deserving of this nomination and award. Keep up the great work Mr Hileman! Your Friend, Kevin Smiley

Elaine Minter Posted 8 months ago

My kids did not have Mr Hileman as a teacher, but two of them had the privilege of attending his Washington DC tour when they were in middle school. I was so impressed with his willingness to take these kids on his own time on such a fantastic trip. This man is so special to our community!

Drew Martens Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is a truly amazing and inspiring person who genuinely cares about what he does and each individual student as well. I had him as a teacher in middle school back in 2005 and still tell people about his teachings and what a fun environment for learning he created. I always looked forward to going to his class because you knew it was going to be engaging and hands-on and you still left the room actually learning something. It never felt like work or even studying really to be in his room, it was just exciting to soak up as much knowledge as you could and learn about the world and the history of it through all the movies, artifacts, and hands-on activities we got to do. Even later in life through high-school and college I never quite saw anything as unique as the museum experience in Mr. Hilemans room, you never wanted it to end.

dave worthington Posted 8 months ago

I have known Keil for most of my life and consider him family. While I have limited experience seeing him at work in a classroom, limited to team teaching some Sunday school classes together, I know Keil is a great teacher and person. He has affected the lives of so many people. When you go out to eat or to see a movie with Keil, you wait for the inevitable time when some former student or parent will approach, compelled to tell Keil that he was their favorite teacher, how he helped them survive middle school, or other similar accolades detailed throughout these responses. Helping him work on his classroom over summer and breaks, I'm amazed at the army of current and former students that volunteer countless hours to help out. I can't think of anyone more deserving of an award as a Lifechanger than Keil.

Aislynn Quinn Posted 8 months ago

i was one of Mr. Hileman’s students five years ago during my senior year of high school. He was a huge supporter in my life, having been my teacher since middle school, and presenting as a huge father figure during a very difficult time in my life. He is someone who feels safe, making a point to build meaningful relationships with each and every one of his students. He is genuinely the most incredible educator I have ever had. His museum is one of a kind, teaching students the joys of archaeology and learning about history of al kinds, and he makes learning fun with the interactive digs and the thousands of artifacts that are in the room. Though I have lost touch with him over the years, I could never forget the incredible things I learned in his classes, and still talk about them to this day and use them to teach others. I will always appreciate how much he cared, and how much he respected all of us as individuals. Thank you Mr Hileman for being a one of a kind educator and mentor for racers single student that comes into your class.

Megan Olson Posted 8 months ago

Keil Hileman is someone who deeply believes in and cares about his students. He is one of the teachers I had while in my High school years that convinced me that I wanted to be a teacher myself. The way he taught and interacted with his students showed me that connecting with your students is key to having them engaged in class and interested in what you are teaching. I will always brag to my students about the unique classes I got to take in high school and they are always fascinated to hear the stories. Mr. Hileman taught one of those unique classes, archeology. I am forever inspired and grateful to have be in his class.

Tory Boudreaux Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is inspiring to me even years after being his student. As his student, the creative approach he took to teaching helped me out a lot. I always had a tough time with traditional schoolwork and paying attention in class, but going to his history class was always a highlight of the day. The other things I admire about Mr. Hileman are his positive energy, generosity and passion. It's typically much easier in life to be sad and unhappy, but I think people find it considerably more difficult to be unhappy when Keil is around. He's always smiling and positive about things, and even seeing his posts on social media can lift my spirits.

Aislynn Quinn Posted 8 months ago

i was one of Mr. Hileman’s students five years ago during my senior year of high school. He was a huge supporter in my life, having been my teacher since middle school, and presenting as a huge father figure during a very difficult time in my life. He is someone who feels safe, making a point to build meaningful relationships with each and every one of his students. He is genuinely the most incredible educator I have ever had. His museum is one of a kind, teaching students the joys of archaeology and learning about history of al kinds, and he makes learning fun with the interactive digs and the thousands of artifacts that are in the room. Though I have lost touch with him over the years, I could never forget the incredible things I learned in his classes, and still talk about them to this day and use them to teach others. I will always appreciate how much he cared, and how much he respected all of us as individuals. Thank you Mr Hileman for being a one of a kind educator and mentor for racers single student that comes into your class.

Mary Chesser Posted 8 months ago

I first heard about Mr Hileman before middle school even started - kids in the school system raved about him - my son could not wait to get into his class. As a teacher, he challenges the students to explore and demonstrate curiosity, intentionally. His creative approach sparks interest with the kids and helps them grasp the history and concepts they are studying. My younger son is so looking forward to his time with Mr. Hileman and that says a lot!!

Jill Applegate Posted 8 months ago

Keil was a great teacher for both my younger brother and I while we were in middle school. This was nearly 12 years ago for me, and I still remember some of the lessons I learned in his class. Museum Studies was the first time I had gotten to study world history in such an interactive way. He is also an incredibly kind person, who believes so much in his students. I was so motivated by his class that for a class project, my project partner and I decided to make a life-size replica of the star-spangled banner from the American Revolution. Mr. Hileman was so excited about it that he got the whole community to come together on a Saturday to finish sewing together the giant, life-sized replica. Then, when he went to a school a couple of hours away to present about the flag, he brought my partner and I along so we could help him with his presentation. So few teachers believe in their students so much and place such responsibility with them when they are only 12 or 13 years old. I am so grateful to have had a teacher like him.

Anne Pickens Posted 8 months ago

Keil Hileman teaches in a way that stimulates creative thinking and curiousity. I am so grateful for his influence and ability to expand my daughters' minds and show them how to pursue knowledge about things that intrinsically motivate them. The ability to "connect" the past and present is indeed Life Changing. Giving a BIG Thank You to Mr. Hileman from my daughters and myself.

Gena Noyes Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman has instilled in his students a love of history but more importantly a love of learning. Our son was new to the school and he helped build our son’s confidence and excitement for school and learning. As a teacher it is hard to educate students today given the outside influences and the demands from the education system but Mr. Hileman has been supported by parents and the administration to be able to share his passion for learning...it is contagious. I wish all students could catch the bug.

Marlys Shulda Posted 8 months ago

Both of my kids had the great joy and pleasure of taking Mr. Heilman's Museum Connections Class. He taught them that learning can be a rewarding, rich, and dynamic experience! They also went on the Washington D.C. tour with him and experienced our nation's capital in an intimate and unique way. Mr. Heilman is an exceedingly unique educator and his love of history, passion for teaching, and devotion to students is unmatched.

Dyllon Posted 8 months ago

Personally, looking back on my education and trying to remember teachers’ names who’ve really impacted my life and sparked my interests is pretty difficult. Mr. Hileman is the exception to that. I remember not only having so much fun in his class but also being able to walk in there at any time and to ask any thing. I wasn’t one to go all out on class work or projects because school wasn’t that interesting to me. When I first walked into his classroom I remember being appalled because I’ve never seen so many cool things in one place, to this day. I remember being able to talk to Mr. Hileman not only as a teacher who was always concerned about our involvement in discussions and class activities, but also as a mentor because you could trust his advice was coming from a place of care. He taught me how to learn in ways that school typically doesn’t give you avenues for. Most school classes and teachers only teach one of a few ways, their way. Mr. Hileman would find out what it is that made each of us brighten up when we entered the class and he would use that to keep us engaged, really learning and retaining the information. I’m thankful for him because I only remember 2 teachers’ names from my entire time being in school, both who’ve helped me grow tremendously as a student and as a person. Truly the best teacher I’ve ever had. If I could recommend anything to an educational board as to what inspires and makes children want to learn, it’s teachers like Mr. Hileman.

Abby Posted 8 months ago

Mr Hileman was a great mentor to not only myself but my two younger brothers as well. Middle school is already a weird time and he made everything better. Without his class there wouldn't have been so many things to look forward to. I remember one year the final project I did was make fortune cookies. He allowed us to all be creative and speak our opinions. So many people are afraid to speak up but in his class everyone felt equal. We learned so much about history in his class. I hate history...and I loved his class all three years of middle school. If each class was that interactive and inviting school would be so fun! We worked hard but had fun doing it. Every teacher should embrace his teaching skills and compassion. I am very appreciative of him and his class!!

Amy Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman was there for me and my family during a family crisis 12 years ago. He supported all of us... but I am most thankful for how he supported my children. My oldest son Austin was having the worst time. He was so very angry and upset. Mr. Hileman took Austin under his wing and helped him get through our family crisis. He asked Austin to dress up in World War II uniforms and share artifacts for huge presentations in Abilene Kansas. They were presenting for The Eisenhower Presidential Museum. Austin was so proud to be a part of that museum team. Mr. Hileman was there for Austin more than his own father was. I am so glad Mr. HIleman was there for my son when I was unable to be. Mr. Hileman worked hard to take Austin on a special trip to Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama. He worked with Austin to find the best camp for him. Austin choses the Fighter Pilots School. Mr. Hileman was able to get scholarships to cover all the expenses and make the trip possible for austin. Over many years, Mr. HIleman worked to take all four of my children with him to summer enrichment camps ant Johnson County Community College. Mr. Hileman was teaching and my children were his designated helpers. This meant they got to take all of his classes for free. They built Castles, airplanes, models and created art. He made summers special for them. Mr. Hileman even worked out a way to take Austin and My son Joey to Washington DC. He organized a scholarship for each of them to go. When that was not enough to cover the full cost, He claimed them as family to cover the last amount needed to go. Austin worked with Mr. HIleman to write a paper and compete to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in arlington Cemetery. Austin was chosen as one of 4 to have this honor. Austin was over the moon happy that he was able to do this. It was a huge honor for him. He helped my son Sean learn to find his own voice his senior year. he helped sean break out from his shyness and hesitation to share who he was. He taught sean it was ok to share what he thought and believed. He also provided a safe refuge for my daughter Rylee. His classroom was and is always a place my children can come talk, share and laugh in. He worked very hard with counselors to make sure my children were in his classes. This is not an easy thing to pull off knowing how many students want to be with him. Mr. Hileman has and is as always there for me and my family. He has always provided the structure to help keep my children moving on.... Learning, Growing, Exploring and becoming the best they can be. His help and support have changed our lives. \

Peg Newton Posted 8 months ago

When my kiddos were young our plan was to win the lottery and hire Mr. Heileman to travel with us and teach us everything he knows.

Randy Lewis Posted 8 months ago

I am a former student of Mr. Hileman’s and 16 years ago in his class my outlook on school and especially history forever changed! It’s one thing to read from a book but when you can actually touch the artifacts, these amazing pieces of history and feel them in your hands it’s a game changer. He truly made learning fun and hands on. Having him as a teacher is something I will never forget and I truly hope he is still teaching when my kids are in middle school! Keil is one of a kind never have I had a teacher who truly cares about their students as he does! You rock Mr.Hileman keep being you sir sincerely Randy Lewis class of 2009

Charles Woleben Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman has been a guest speaker at my school twice, both times I learned things I would never learn elsewhere. He is always willing to share his interesting stories and his knowledge for projects.

Deb Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Heilman has taught all three of my boys. When I first meet Mr. Heilman my oldest was in his museum connections class. He had a navy suite that would fit Joseph, from the World War II era. He was going to President Eisenhower's museum for his birthday celebration. Mr. Heilman was giving a speech to the crowd, and Joseph and a couple other students wearing military clothes from that era. Mr. Heilman had everyone so excited to hear about our history from that time. My best memory from that day was when we went thru Eisenhower's museum. Mr Heilman would point out pieces and tell the students what that piece was used for in the war. He brought those pieces back to life and the students were so captivated by what he was telling them about that piece. I was so impressed by this teacher and his excitement of the past history. My son was so excited by this teacher that he wanted to be a history teacher. I liked that he used different tools to teach students. Not just looking at a boring book and blackboard. He made history exciting. And his classroom had all these hands on treasures. The bullet case that was from World War II signed by a soldier, an old dental chair, and so many objects. I can not speak highly enough about this man. My boys love their history. And still speak of Mr. Heilman as the best teacher they ever had. I , as a parent enjoyed all the years my boys had Mr. Heilman as a teacher. And at that time my boys had him as a teacher made me envious. I wished I had a teacher that cared, and was as excited about history like Mr. Heilman.

Cameron Rohr Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman lives up to everything people say about him. He makes learning fun easy and lasting. I'm not much of one for long comments but Mr. Hileman deserves it. He's like the teachers you see in movies, jumping on desks and being all passionate except he's better because he doesn't get paid millions of dollars and he's changing lives. Keil Hileman deserves the LifeChanger of the year Award.

Alex Ingram Posted 8 months ago

I was not traditionally a very good student. I got distracted, had a hard time becoming invested and flat out goofed off in class. Normally this is a recipe for failure but not with Mr. Hileman. In fact just the opposite. He embraced my behavior and made it an infinitely more enjoyable learning experience. Hileman was exceptional at helping me incorporate my attitude in a positive way that didn't impede my ability to learn. His classroom, as many know, is not your traditional classroom. Artifacts, everywhere you look; literally! I've never been more engaged than when I was in that room.

Jazmyne Leiker Posted 8 months ago

A few years ago, when I had just got to middle school at Lexington Trails, Mr. Hileman had came in to one of my classes as a guest speaker. It was one of the greatest memories I had of my time at middle school. Over the years whenever he came in to speak in someone's class, I always remember being so excited and thrilled that he was going to be there. I only had him a few times throughout middle school, but they were all so interesting: the way he taught with emotion and how he engaged the students with some memories of his own, or how he always put a smile on someone's face, and definitely how every student actually was learning something when he was talking. He was always trying to help everyone and do the best he could. It's something that I always admired about the way he taught. He also really cared for his students that he met along the way, some of them not even being in his classes. He taught with enthusiasm, and the best part was that you were learning something. I'm a sophomore now, and to this day I still remember all of the times he came in to my school. Overall, I think Mr. Hileman is very deserving of the nomination and that he deserves it.

Jason Lerdahl Posted 8 months ago

He is such an amazing teacher. It’s been 20 Ulysses since I had his class and I still remember his passion for history and found myself loving American history. His kindness and dedication helped me follow my heart and follow my passions!!

Kate L. Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is the best teacher I’ve ever had. 20 years later and I still talk about how he was able to spark a passion for learning in every student he taught. Always grateful for the time I spent in his presence.

Debbie Posted 8 months ago

My daughter was fortunate to have Mr. Hileman 15 years ago, (or so- time flies). Likely he is the only teacher either of us could name because of the effect he had on her education. Our dad was a retired Air Force Bomber Pilot and was honored to loan a practice bomb to his museum. The impact of being able to touch, see, and smell history has such a powerful impact on our learning and understanding. Thank you, Mr. Hileman, for choosing teaching.

Doug Sumner Posted 8 months ago

As a former principal at Monticello Trails, I was fortunate to work beside a team of amazing middle school educators. Among them was Mr. Hileman, a beyond-creative, seventh grade social studies teacher. From the very beginning, Keil had a drive to reach kids in a different way. While Keil would certainly not be the first teacher to feel this way, the success of his delivery was being limited by the boundaries of the curriculum his course was designed around. Faced with two primary options, slow him down and stifle him, or cut him loose and see what could happen, we took the path you would expect two committed middle school educators to take - WE CUT HIM LOOSE! The rest, pardon the pun, is history. Keil, thanks to the support of countless colleagues, students and parents, designed the new course we now know as, Museum Connections. The result, as you can clearly conclude from Keil's success (born from the success of his students), as well as the many comments reflected below, was a unique approach to hands-on teaching and learning that ignited a MOVEMENT amongst his students. Museum Connections reached kids who had never before connected with content and they also connected with a teacher who happily poured nearly his entire existence into creating something different that would allow them (and him) to excel. Far too rarely do we encourage, or even allow, our teachers to color outside of the lines. Perhaps that was justified when "information" was our primary product. However, in an age where information has become so readily accessible, our focus has shifted to selling collaboration, discovery, creative problem solving, linking experiences to form new experiences and commitment to growth. This inventory of products, however, is nearly impossible to move if students lack the motivation to even scan the shelves they rest on. Keil Hileman has turned Museum Connections into the store front kids are busting down the door to enter! Congratulations to Keil and the kids, parents and colleagues that supported him on this journey!

Melissa Wible Posted 8 months ago

I was lucky enough to be a student in Mr. Hileman’s first Social Studies class! These were the days when teachers used real books and overhead transparencies. Even in his first year of teaching, everyone knew Mr. Hileman was a great teacher. What I remember most is that Mr. Hileman could make history come alive. He wasn’t a teacher reciting facts. He was a storyteller who could paint pictures with his words. He made us feel like we were in that time period. He described history by letting us know what places looked like and how items felt. I actually remember him bringing in his first artifact around for everyone to see. Mr. Hileman’s homework was fun for me. Rather than answering questions on a worksheet, we were given freedom to create. One time, I chose to draw a scene of some historical event. Of course, I don’t remember exactly what I drew, but I remember how I felt. I remember being so proud of what I created. I am now 38 years old and a teacher myself. I teach in the same school district where I was a student. I still see Mr. Hileman during in-services and as a guest speaker in our building. The students in our building love when he comes and presents. He still creates that same magic that he did when I was a student so many years ago. He tells the stories of the past and gives students real artifacts so they can experience the history. He is not only a great teacher but a great person. He always takes time to say hello and ask me about my family. He is a true class act and is very deserving of this award.

Meredith Malone Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is always willing to bring his knowledge and love of history into classrooms! The artifacts that he shares are so engaging for students of all ages. As a fourth grade teacher, I am lucky enough that he is willing to take time out of his schedule to come and share his knowledge with my students while studying Kansas History. Kids love to get their hands on pieces of history and that is exactly what he does for kids.

Cynthia Menzel Posted 8 months ago

Keil is an amazing teacher -- passionate, caring and creative. To me, he is an even better colleague. An awe-inspiring professional, he is welcoming, sharing and inclusive. I saw this while he was the Kansas Teacher of the Year in his work with the KTOY team and in his visits across the state and in the years since as he's provided advice, counsel and resources to those all working to provide students a better future -- teachers, paras, school psychs, counselors. Keil is also an eloquent advocate for the teaching profession and for public education as a whole, always keeping in mind that students are the center of public education and if it's not good for students, or ultimately for teaching professionals, then it's not good for public education. Keil Hileman deserves every accolade aimed in his direction.

Paige Habiger Posted 8 months ago

After taking several classes with Mr. Heilman throughout my years at MTMS and MVHS, I decided to get a degree in Anthropology from the University of Kansas. Heilman was such an amazing teacher and life influencer that I felt this choice was best suited for me. Since then I have completed 3 years of study and am only a year away from graduating. I credit Mr. Heilman for laying down a path for me and making my decision that much easier.

Allison Mackey Posted 8 months ago

I only had the opportunity to take one of Mr. Hileman's classes my 6th grade year at MTMS. I still remember eagerly anticipating every single day of class some 13 years ago because Mr. Hileman made learning nothing short of magical. I remember doing a project on Otzi the Iceman, which fascinated me enough to encourage me to pursue anthropology in college. So, Mr. Hileman, THANK YOU. Thank you for my love of anthropology. I didn't know it at the time, but that one class in 6th grade, in a very literal sense, shaped my future.

Kristina Robinson Posted 8 months ago

Though my daughter did not have Mr. Hileman as a teacher he still had a life changing effect on her. He organizes an annual trip to Washington DC for Middle schoolers packing in as many monuments, ceremonies and museums as humanly possible in four days. The man is a walking historian, knowing so many interesting facts and presenting them in an entertaining way. He has a way with kids and knows how to keep their attention. My daughter learned so much from the trip and had practicall experiences to apply to what she has since learned in class. Government process and the election make more sense and her appreciation for the military were strengthened after participating in a wreath ceremony. Over a year later and she still brings up different experiences that meant so much to her. Mr. Hileman's enthusiasm for history is contagious!

Scott Sharp Posted 8 months ago

Keil and I have taught in the same district for just short of 20 years, although never in the same building (unfortunately!). Being in different buildings has not prevented me from learning all about him through the literally hundreds of students telling me stories ranging from field trips they took with Mr. Hileman, archaeological digs, life lessons they learned, priceless historical artifacts they got to TOUCH in his classroom, and way too much more to recount here. I know that countless lives of students we've shared have been touched by Keil, and I'm honored to work in the same district with such a transformative educator. His enthusiasm is positively contagious to students, staff and parents, and his thirst for knowledge (and inspiring that same thirst in students) is nothing short of unparalleled. On a personal note, through our many mutual students, Keil has discovered that he and I share many similar passions and he has bestowed many gifts for my science classroom over the years from prehistoric alligator skulls to stuffed raccoons and emu eggs. Keil just can't seem to help but impact lives wherever he goes! :-)

Sarah Mcmullan Posted 8 months ago

Best teacher I've ever had. His passion for history is contagious and truly inspiring.

Trinity Wilson Posted 8 months ago

Where to start. Mr. Hileman was a man who knew how to keep students engaged but also made sure they were learning. Each year placing artefacts in the desks and completing archeology skills with students. He's an inspiration to many who have taken his class and a teacher many wish to have. He runs a classroom with unusual tactics but always manages to make sure you learn something. As a previous student of his and mentor to his kids, he's and incredible listener, teacher, and leader. He strives for excellence but knows how to to it gently. The classroom museum was tiny and packed when I was a student, and I can't imagine what it is like now. The custom designed desks and the hundreds of tiny pieces long the bookshelves, each with a story. Many of his previous students will tell you amazing stories about his classroom. But one I have most fondly is the respect he had when I told him I had things for that years time capsule but one of them was my mother's Marine corps induction photo, to which I couldn't give him permanently. He was kind about making a copy of it and made sure the original photo returned to our family. Hileman doesn't just teach he makes connections and knows his students might be young but they will grow to great things. He makes sure each of them knows that.

Amy Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman was there for me and my family during a family crisis 12 years ago. He supported all of us... but I am most thankful for how he supported my children. My oldest son Austin was having the worst time. He was so very angry and upset. Mr. Hileman took Austin under his wing and helped him get through our family crisis. He asked Austin to dress up in World War II uniforms and share artifacts for huge presentations in Abilene Kansas. They were presenting for The Eisenhower Presidential Museum. Austin was so proud to be a part of that museum team. Mr. Hileman was there for Austin more than his own father was. I am so glad Mr. HIleman was there for my son when I was unable to be. Mr. Hileman worked hard to take Austin on a special trip to Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama. He worked with Austin to find the best camp for him. Austin choses the Fighter Pilots School. Mr. Hileman was able to get scholarships to cover all the expenses and make the trip possible for austin. Over many years, Mr. HIleman worked to take all four of my children with him to summer enrichment camps ant Johnson County Community College. Mr. Hileman was teaching and my children were his designated helpers. This meant they got to take all of his classes for free. They built Castles, airplanes, models and created art. He made summers special for them. Mr. Hileman even worked out a way to take Austin and My son Joey to Washington DC. He organized a scholarship for each of them to go. When that was not enough to cover the full cost, He claimed them as family to cover the last amount needed to go. Austin worked with Mr. HIleman to write a paper and compete to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in arlington Cemetery. Austin was chosen as one of 4 to have this honor. Austin was over the moon happy that he was able to do this. It was a huge honor for him. He helped my son Sean learn to find his own voice his senior year. he helped sean break out from his shyness and hesitation to share who he was. He taught sean it was ok to share what he thought and believed. He also provided a safe refuge for my daughter Rylee. His classroom was and is always a place my children can come talk, share and laugh in. He worked very hard with counselors to make sure my children were in his classes. This is not an easy thing to pull off knowing how many students want to be with him. Mr. Hileman has and is as always there for me and my family. He has always provided the structure to help keep my children moving on.... Learning, Growing, Exploring and becoming the best they can be. His help and support have changed our lives. \

Wendy Ping Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman's love for history is contagious. The students that he teaches in his classroom at Monticello Trails Middle School as well as the students in the summer education program at Johnson County Community College have caught the bug. Students are always dicussing his class and their love of history. I believe his unique teaching style and humor make everyone feel at home in his classroom. As a co-worker, Mr. Hileman is always ready to help out in any way. He lets the art class borrow artifacts from his class to draw or to use as realia for instruction. He also has a broad knowledge base so he usually has interesting details to share on a wide-variety of topics. If you talk to Mr. Hileman for five minutes, you will understand how he is a life changer.

Amanda Curtright Posted 8 months ago

Where do I start....Thank you. Mr. Hileman. Thank you. For everything that you have done for me and my family. Not only have you impacted so many students but you have also impacted families too. Not only was I privileged to have Mr. Hileman as a teacher, but he is also a family friend to my grandma and my late grandpa. Because of Mr. Hileman, so many artifacts and items that my family loved so dearly can be displayed for other kids like me to learn about. His curiosity and kindness is unforgettable. I was able to travel to Washington DC with Mr. Hileman and lay a wreath at Arlington cemetery for the tomb of the Unknown Solider. I would not be able to experience that without him. He makes every student that walks into his classroom feel valued and accepted. You can not replicate the energy and passion that he has for his students. His museum not only holds artifacts, but it holds memories. Mr. Hileman, and his museum, are one of a kind. I am honored to know him and call him a friend. Life changer of the year is an understatement.

Ashley Bennett Posted 8 months ago

In my fist year coming to MTMS, Mr. Hileman was one of the first teachers to introduce himself to me. He immediately said to let him know if there was ever anything I was teaching in English class that he could support with his artifacts and knowledge. After seeing his classroom and talking with him, it wasn't long before I was able to see how valuable his information could be to students in my English classroom. Before reading books and articles centered around events during the Holocaust and time periods where slavery exsisted, Mr. Hileman would gather some of his artifacts and introduce our students to background of the topics through engaging, high energy presentations that triggered a desire to read and learn more. These presentations took time out of his other class periods and required preparation to help students he didn't even have in class. Students remember the artifacts and his presentation and at the end of the year, it's one of their top memories. His willingness to help not only students, but coworkers and teachers makes him stand out from the crowd. He is a life changer to students, but also to the adults around them that he leads.

Evan Werner Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman really inspired me to become an educator and to help shape the next generation

Kendall Short Posted 8 months ago

As most know, school isn’t really something that gets you excited as a middle schooler. You’ve got sports, girls, friends, video games, and everything else that’s going on at that age. But, Mr. Hileman changed that for all of us. Whether we were watching a movie, building projects, or making food from a different time period/culture, you always loved going to his class. When asked, “what’d you learn today” by my parents, I’d usually answer with something from his class. 11-12 years later and I still wish I had him as a teacher! He’s a special guy, and not many educators, if any, could ever replicate what he does.

Chrissy Sharp Posted 8 months ago

I was lucky enough to have him as a teacher all throughout middle school and even some of high school. He made history come alive and is an inspiration to me as a teacher. He is one of those teachers you will never forget. He went above and beyond for me all throughout my school years. And as I teacher I hope to one day leave an impact on students the way he has. He is a life changing person and deserves recognition for all of his hard work.

Shelby Badger Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is one of the most unique teachers that you can find. Sure, his class is interesting and the room is full of exciting items that you could stare at for hours just like previous students like me have in the time we've spent in his classroom. But his uniqueness comes from the immense compassion he has for his students. There are few classrooms across America and even the world that are as welcoming as Mr. Hileman's. One could not even be enrolled and find a safe space in Mr. Hileman's open mind and heart. It has been around 4 years since I've been in one of his classes, but I still find myself looking back on the valuable time I spent in his classroom having cultural discussions and receiving words of wisdom. Even now I know that I have a home with Mr. Hileman wherever I am in my life. Beyond his compassion he is certainly a life changer. I personally have used the knowledge gained from his classroom to support my further studies in history and political science. He is one of the greater influences in my decisions in my higher education. I know I am not alone in this as I have seen other classmates be supported by Mr. Hileman when trying to decide what to do with the rest of their education or life in general. Mr. Hileman is a man that will provide words of encouragement as well as give you the reality you need. Being in Mr. Hileman's classroom or simply getting to know him will change your life.

Andrew Bock Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is without question a lifechanger. As I read through this article about him, I marvel at all he has accomplished. It is unbelievable to me how dedicated he is in so many different ventures, and how is is able to do it all while being so approachable and personable with his students and his coworkers. As a student, I took his classes all three years in middle school, and took his high school archaeology class my senior year. I went on the D.C. trip in 6th grade, where Mr. Hileman, of course, was our fearless leader. I have so many wonderful memories of that trip, and I can say that this is due in large part to Mr. Hileman. Seeing all the sights in Washington was one thing, but it was Mr. Hileman’s leadership and organization on the trip that made it the most memorable to me. And while my time with Mr. Hileman in middle school was very memorable, my senior year in his archaeology class was most life changing for me. It came during a time when I was very anxious about finishing high school. I was questioning many things, especially my own future. But getting to see Mr. Hileman at the end of every other day was what I needed. Getting to reconnect with him, and be in his class once again helped me to realize that I would be able to make it through. And it was Mr. Hileman himself who helped me to realize this. He inspired me to keep fighting, and to keep working. And perhaps his best quality is that he truly cares about others, and will stop at nothing to help someone else out. He helped me through a tough time, and I know that he has done this for countless other people. He is a great teacher, a great friend, and a special person. Thank you Mr. Hileman, for what you have done for me, and what you continue to do for so many others.

Kyler Gish Posted 8 months ago

I know Mr. Hileman through a mutual youth group with his own children. Even though a lot of our encounters are brief, he never ceases to amaze me as a person. Keil always, always makes me feel at home and laugh whenever I am around him. He has a certain charm to him that I haven't experienced in many other people. His character and passion is uncontestable. I've also been fortunate enough to work within the school district the last two summers with the IT department. While not attending Monticello Middle School directly, I've been able to view the positive impacts that Mr. Hileman had made on the community. His classroom is full of hands on activities that peak the interest of his students and educational material that lets kids learn while not knowing they're learning. I have not experienced what Mr. Hileman provides in his classroom even at University. Providing such an environment for his students that most colleges cannot replicate is nothing short of an immensely impressive feat. Keil Hileman is beyond qualified for the title of life changer of the year and, more importantly, deserves it.

Josie Bedford Posted 8 months ago

From supporting me on mission trips to helping with me with my college transition, Mr. Hileman has been an extremely caring and supportive the entire time. Even though I never took his class, that had never stopped Mr. Hileman from supporting me and other students in his community.

Devin Simms Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman was one of the only reasons I enjoyed going to school. I had him for my full senior year and he made it my best year of high school. He was always extremely light hearted, caring, and enjoyed joking around. Every day felt like something new and fresh because he is literally a living encyclopedia of information. You literally could give him any topic, and he would find something to teach you about it. He is the best teacher I’ve ever had, and the teacher who made me enjoy learning again.

Alex Posted 8 months ago

Mr. HIlemans class is so much fun. You get to build a cool final exam project at the end of the class. You get to choose the project you want to build and then you teach the class what you learned. The digs are so much fun. you find cool artifacts that you have never see before. I found a huge jaw bone from bison. it was so huge. Mr. H uses stories to teach us. He tells us about his life and his friends to make history real. I love being in his class with my friends. This class lets me talk with people and learn at the same time. It makes me feel good because it is so much different from my other classes. What we learn and talk about with Mr. hileman is imporant. Sometimes the history stories relate to my family and my life. It is real to me. I have learned so much more from Mr. Hileman and his classes. I will try to come back to his classes next year. each year I learn more from him and the classes build off each other.

Lexi Meneely Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hilemans’ classroom is one of the very reasons I love history. He made me learn to appreciate the past and look past what you find in history books. Throughout his class I was finding myself wanting to read the book and wanting to do more research outside of class. The main reason his class is so successful is because he bring the history to the classroom. He even puts the history in our hands and then gives us the story behind it. He is also willing to share stories that most people don’t dare talk about. He is also beyond passionate about his work. He truly loves history, his job, and working with kids! His museum is teaching kids that history is not just a book that they make you read and then sits on a shelf for years. He is teaching kids that history is real and did happen. Mr. Hileman is still to this day my favorite teacher and his museum is the reason I am now in college, about to graduate a year early and still take a history class every now and then! I couldn’t be more thankful for him and his museum and everything it has taught me!

Kristen Hale Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is one of the best teachers I ever had! His teaching style is truly one of a kind. I am lucky enough to have my own kids attend MTMS in a few years and I can’t wait for them to have him as a teacher!

Corrie Kramer Posted 8 months ago

I absolutely HATED school as a youngster. However Mr. Hileman's was able to make learning fun enough that I actually enjoyed going to his class. He was one of the very few teachers I had that I loved. If anyone deserves this honor, Mr. Hileman is your man.

Junelle Woolery Posted 8 months ago

You have the awesome ability to make learning relevant by making it come alive. I could tell from the first time I met you that you truly cared about your students, and that made me what to excel at whatever you asked of me, whether it was homework or running a basketball drill. Your ability to connect with your students is what really makes the difference, our district is lucky to have you. Thanks for being you!

Cheyenne L Zwahlen Posted 8 months ago

I have worked with Keil extensively on curating a museum of artifacts for my elementary building. All students in grade school learn about Kansas history, and with Keil's help, our building now has 2 full cases of Kansas artifacts which include everything from fossils and indian beads and arrowheads to toys that pioneer children have played with! Our students have access to these artifacts year-round. As a third-grade teacher, our students have even used the artifacts to classify and categorize, thus giving them hands on opportunities to curate the case for the building every year. Keil has thoughtfully hand-picked certain artifacts for our building, and has worked with me personally on adding to the case every year. Keil also goes a step further by having helped me pick out appropriate cases, and helped put them together! Keil is fantastic about sharing information and stories about these artifacts in an engaging way, as well. Students are riveted by his information and have even given up on recess time to continue to listen to his facts on each of these artifacts. Finally, Keil is an important presenter for our building every year during Veteran's Day. HIs deep well of knowledge concerning the history of the American Flag is shared annually during our Veteran's Day celebration. I have truly enjoyed collaborating with Keil throughout the years. I know if I ever need or want artifacts, information on artifacts, and someone to share about artifacts, Keil will be there!

Brian Dinkel Posted 8 months ago

Every year I invite Mr. Heilman to come speak to my students about the Civil War. It is honestly one of the highlights of the year in my classroom. The students love seeing the artifacts that he has collected but more than that they are excited the he's coming to speak. Mr. Heilman is an amazing teacher because he's not the typical teacher that spends time lecturing students about the subject, instead he makes connections by sharing stories that grab the students attention. He You don't find many people that are willing to put in the extra time that he does to make sure that every student has an opportunity to learn. He's an amazing teacher and very deserving of this nomination.

Steve Crutchfield Posted 8 months ago

For several years, I had the pleasure of chaperoning the Washington, D.C. trip that Mr. Hileman organizes for students from not only Monticello Trails but from other middle and high schools in our district. His trips are packed with so many fun and enriching educational experiences! Mt. Vernon, The U.S. Capitol, Smithsonian Museums, War Memorials, and Arlington Cemetery to name just a few. At Arlington, Keil provides students the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns as well as for the victims of the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. It is a very somber experience and serves to underscore the sacrifices made for our great country. The trip includes great food, a knowledgeable tour guide, and a friendly liaison. It is a 3-day whirlwind each year but one students will never forget!

Valerie Mattie Posted 8 months ago

Since 2004, I have worked at Monticello Trails Middle School with Keil Hileman. For quite a bit of that time, our classrooms were in the same hallway where I feel I got to know him well. I was able to observe Keil’s interactions with students; his classes are extremely popular and students clamor to be in them! The competition is fierce for students to “have Mr. Hileman at LEAST once while in middle school!” It is the norm for Keil to have filled-to-capacity classes and is apparent for all to see. What isn’t quite as noticeable, however, is the number of students who Keil interacts and visits with both before and after the school bells ring. You see, Keil gives students a place to belong. He gives them a place to be heard. Within the four walls of his classroom, students feel valued. Their thoughts, opinions, and voices matter. Writing this in support of Keil possibly receiving the Lifechanger of the Year award is the least I could do for him. His kindness, respect, and pure love for teaching and changing the lives of others is the very definition of Keil Hileman, and it is something to behold.

Scott Sharp Posted 8 months ago

Keil and I have taught in the same district for just short of 20 years, although never in the same building (unfortunately!). Being in different buildings has not prevented me from learning all about him through the literally hundreds of students telling me stories ranging from field trips they took with Mr. Hileman, archaeological digs, life lessons they learned, priceless historical artifacts they got to TOUCH in his classroom, and way too much more to recount here. I know that countless lives of students we've shared have been touched by Keil, and I'm honored to work in the same district with such a transformative educator. His enthusiasm is positively contagious to students, staff and parents, and his thirst for knowledge (and inspiring that same thirst in students) is nothing short of unparalleled. On a personal note, through our many mutual students, Keil has discovered that he and I share many similar passions and he has bestowed many gifts for my science classroom over the years from prehistoric alligator skulls to stuffed raccoons and emu eggs. Keil just can't seem to help but impact lives wherever he goes! :-)

Alex Posted 8 months ago

Mr. HIlemans class is so much fun. You get to build a cool final exam project at the end of the class. You get to choose the project you want to build and then you teach the class what you learned. The digs are so much fun. you find cool artifacts that you have never see before. I found a huge jaw bone from bison. it was so huge. Mr. H uses stories to teach us. He tells us about his life and his friends to make history real. I love being in his class with my friends. This class lets me talk with people and learn at the same time. It makes me feel good because it is so much different from my other classes. What we learn and talk about with Mr. hileman is imporant. Sometimes the history stories relate to my family and my life. It is real to me. I have learned so much more from Mr. Hileman and his classes. I will try to come back to his classes next year. each year I learn more from him and the classes build off each other.

Jamie Talbott Posted 8 months ago

Keil has been coming to speak in my 8th Grade Science class for years now. He mainly comes to bring his fossil and rock collections. He is not just the artifacts man.... he is an interactive museum himself. He speaks in a way that will capture every single person's attention, no matter the age. He insists that every time comes to my room that it will be a heads-on learning experience for every student. No artifact is too precious to pass around (and if something gets broken or lost, he keeps a very cool manner). The artifacts are not just a visual aid... they are the lesson. He tells the kids about every artifact as if he were recreating a profound story. The amount of information that he has in that head of his is absolutely unbelievable, and yet he is not pretentious and is not arrogant. He loves to learn and will loves it when he gets the opportunity to learn new things along with his students. I wish I that I would have had a teacher like him as a child. I can't imagine any of his students not loving all things history. Whenever I have a student teacher I make sure they go and watch him teach when he's in the building because it really is that mind blowing and one of a kind experience. I still get excited when he comes to my class, and he's been doing so for many years. Not only is he a phenomenal teacher and entertainer, he is a wonderful person that has blessed many kids and adults with his passion and positivity. I'm very proud of him and in awe of his talents.

Alex Posted 8 months ago

Mr. HIlemans class is so much fun. You get to build a cool final exam project at the end of the class. You get to choose the project you want to build and then you teach the class what you learned. The digs are so much fun. you find cool artifacts that you have never see before. I found a huge jaw bone from bison. it was so huge. Mr. H uses stories to teach us. He tells us about his life and his friends to make history real. I love being in his class with my friends. This class lets me talk with people and learn at the same time. It makes me feel good because it is so much different from my other classes. What we learn and talk about with Mr. hileman is imporant. Sometimes the history stories relate to my family and my life. It is real to me. I have learned so much more from Mr. Hileman and his classes. I will try to come back to his classes next year. each year I learn more from him and the classes build off each other.

Alex Martin Posted 8 months ago

I think Museum connections and mr. hileman are way more interactive than other classes. We simply dont just sit down and use a textbook. We learn way more in the class because he makes us want to learn by the interesting ways he teaches us. It is so much more than facts in a book. I think the class moves so fast because there is so much happening in the videos, his stories and the artifacts. The digs are so cool! no other class gets to touch real things. We don't really know about it or see what it is. When you pick up the artifacts in your hands it more exciting and you just learn more. I really enjoy my school days now because of Mr. Hileman. i look forward to coming to his class each day. I enjoy the museum Homework because it actually interests me. if I just go home and do textbook work.. it does not mean anything to me except a grade. In Mr. hilemans class I get to learn above and beyond the class. I get to chose my own learning topics. I like that. I will miss this class very much when I dont get to come here each day.

Zubeer Posted 8 months ago

This class is fun and amazing. I like how mr. H makes things so funny. He makes us laugh to help us learn. I enjoy this class because of that. I like the fact i get to do a final exam project instead of just a paper test. I love the digs and sand. I love finding all the cool artifacts. The big ones are my favorite. I found a huge bison leg bone! I also found a giant sea shell. I learned it was a form of money for indians. I learned more history in this class. I learned about he path of ameriacans and even the other side of the world.II will miss mr. hileman very much.

Abigail & Eden Posted 8 months ago

In first hour each day we always look forward to 2nd hour. This class always puts me in a good mood because we have so much fun. we are constantly learning about neat history from Mr. HIlemans stories and facts. There are so many new artifacts to see each day. We will miss this class very much. He changes us every day with new stories and video clips each day. There is always some new thing to learn. There is never a dull moment. This class goes by so fast each day. We both love telling our parents about what Mr. Hileman taught us. We also like to ask older sisters and brothers if they learned the same things when they had him. What Mr. Hileman does each day is so important. It is safe place to come to. Some people learn by touching. Some by listening. Mr. HIleman teaches us all in different ways at the same time. We just learn more by going deeper in the stories than the basics. Mr. HIleman makes our class like a real life living textbook.

Paige & Claire Posted 8 months ago

So, We loved the super cool corn story for thanksgiving. He told us about pilgrims starving and having corn only for meals. He then gave us each some corn to keep and remember to be thankful. We love the experience he gives us. He lets us touch and feel things. In a normal class you don't remember what you learn. Mr. H drops things on desks and scares us to help us remember what he is teaching us. He makes learning hands on. we make our own textbooks and learn in our own ways. Someday we will tell our kids about this class. We love to prove our parents wrong about history. He teaches us more than just history. He teaches us about tips of life. He makes class real. every day this is the class we look forward to coming to. The dig tables are fun to dig in and the chairs spin around. He is too much Fun. We want this class all three years!

Brayden Posted 8 months ago

This class changes lives because not every kid gets history taught to them in a hands on way. it is just a neat class. Mr. Hileman is a super nice guy. He is aware of each of us every day. Every day he plays fun music playing. I look forward to coming to class each day. It has changed me. I like school more now. I make plans for my days and homework. I have learned to teach myself with what he taught me outside of his class.

Brody Williamson Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hilemans class is a really neat class, I hope to have it again next year. It makes 2nd hour go fast because it is so much fun. I learn a lot. I learned about pyramids and history. I get to share stories with my dad about this class. My dad likes to read. MR. Hileman gives me stories to share with dad. I laugh every day. It makes my school day every day.

Marshall Posted 8 months ago

I like digging in the dig tables with sand. I like all the artifacts. They are very cool. This class makes me feel great. I am with my friends and Mr. Hileman. My sister had this class and I am glad to be in it now. I am a better student because of how he teaches us. He explores things with us and it makes sense with the videos.

Anderson & Gavin Posted 8 months ago

We like how Mr. hIleman teaches us. He tells stories and shows us amazing video clips. He talks to us and helps us learn about ancient cultures. He made me like history more. It is a more fun way of learning history. He always makes us feel welcome and always makes us smile. He always plays funs songs when we are coming in to class. This class makes us want to come to school. It is our favorite class. It is way better than my other classes. Mr. Hileman helps me learn in his class and then I understand more in my main social studies class. We will miss this class very much. We both like Mr. Hileman very much and hope to have him next year!

Cadence Peterson Posted 8 months ago

When I first walked into our classroom museum was like nothing I had ever seen before. It is unlike anything I have ever seen. The museum is not like any other classroom. There is no way you can possibly see all the artifacts every day. A lot of people said his room and teaching style was amazing. I thought they were exaggerating. Now I know they are not. I feel happy and sad right now. I am grateful to have had Mr. Hileman as my teacher. I am also sad our 6th grade class will end in three weeks. I will miss artifacts, stories and Mr. HIleman. What we did in this class matters so much. You just wont see a buffalo head or swords from ancient rome in other classes. It is important to support the museum and Mr. Hileman to make sure future generations get to have this class.

Carly Smith (Jordan) Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Heilman was the reason I came to love History. His passion not only for the subject but also his students is something I will never forget.

Marie Guntert Posted 8 months ago

Once inside a classroom that allows you to truly be hands on and thrive it is life changing. I’ll never forget having Mr. Heilman as a teacher or being in his classroom. When you walked out of his classroom you felt as if you had just left a time in history (like literally). Amazing & phenomenal teacher. I can’t say or write enough.

Victoria Posted 8 months ago

I was in 7th grade, sitting the 3rd row of Mr. Hileman’s 7th hour class on September 11, 2001. I remember so vividly the somber way in which he told us what had happened, and also said “this day will be in the history books”. Those words stuck with me as I got off the bus, grabbed my neighbors KC Star (sorry to those neighbors) and stashed it under my mattress for safe keeping. It’s still there today, my mom recently informed me of this. 7th months later, on April 11, Mr. Hileman took a group of my classmates and myself on a trip to DC. He went out of his way t schedule a tour of the pentagon, even though it was still under construction from the attacks. The first time I had a real understanding of the Holocaust was when he took us to the USHMM, and told us that it would forever impact our lives. He was absolutely correct. I have spent years studying the Holocaust, and today, as a history teacher myself, I take students on trips to Eastern Europe where we visit Auschwitz and study the Holocaust. Mr. Hileman was more than a teacher, he was, and is a mentor and inspiration to so many. I credit him with developing my love for history and social studies and hope to have an impact on my students like he had on me. Thanks Mr. Hileman! - Victoria Z

Josh Landis Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman's caliber as an educator is well known, and I'm not surprised he's being recognized as a lifechanger. That's always how he remains in my memory. I remember plenty of moments from having him as a teacher years ago. The memory that sticks with me; however, is how excited I was that THE Mr. Hileman agreed to my request to be my guest speaker at my Eagle Scout ceremony. This was 5 years after having been in his class, and he didn't even hesitate! Having moved into the area shortly before I attended his class, I had lost some of my drive and focus, due to the seemingly overwhelming changes at that age. Mr. Hileman made a lasting impression, one that put me back on pace to taking my education seriously again, and recognizing the importance of taking pride in my acheivements. He was the first person I thought of when I was asked to select a speaker who made a difference in my life. His words meant so much to myself and my family. In that moment, he made a very special day even more momentous. I still have the book he gifted me and signed. It's always going to have a place on my bookshelf. Just as he will always have a place in my heart and memory. Thanks for giving your best to change all of us for the better. Good luck!

claire burson Posted 8 months ago

the past couple of weeks have been very special to me. I didn't know what to expect when I first walked into his room. First, I am not going to lie, I was a little overwhelmed, but when I wait for 45 minutes to come into your classroom and learn all the crazy things about the world because of what I learn in your class. You are one of the top reasons why I get out of bed in the morning. (also if I don' go to school my mom will probably yell at me ) I just what to say thank you for al you do!!!!!!!!!

Becky Miller Posted 8 months ago

Kyle and I attend the same church. He is a wonderful part of our congregation and we are blessed to have him and his family as members. Kyle volunteers for many of the youth activities at church and it is clear that the kids connect with him, which helps keep the kids engaged. What i personally appreciate most, as an adult, is that Kyle shares stories at church that let us know how much his students need and appreciate support from their families, teachers, and the community. The insight he provides is inspirational and makes me/us want to do more to help. Kyle inspires us to do our best as volunteers, donors, and encouragers.

Tia Posted 8 months ago

Most amazing, life changing teacher I know!

Hayley Lollar Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Hileman is 100% a life changer!! I can't put into words all the lessons he taught my sister and I, inside and outside of the classroom, but I can say they have stuck with us for 15+ years! He made learning fun and going to his class was always the highlight of the day. Not only did he teach us about history, he taught us about life and what it means to be a good person. Some of my favorite memories with Hileman include the trip to Washington D.C and Abilene, KS. On those trips, we learned about the past but he also took the time to teach us about the present and why people are they way they are. I am so thankful to have had him as a school teacher and a life teacher! He is so deserving of this award!

Heidi Eaton Posted 8 months ago

My husband heard about Mr. Hileman and his amazing museum, and when we were in the area visiting my parents, we made arrangements to meet him. He graciously showed us around the museum during his free period/lunch and introduced us to one of his classes. Just that snapshot of his day and his interaction with the students showed me what an outstanding educator he is. I wish I had access to this kind of classroom when I was in school!

Holly Sprague Posted 8 months ago

He really gave learning a new hands on perspective. Museum connections was the coolest class I’d ever taken. The museum he’s created is something I’ll never forget, along with his teaching style. Really something special.

Todd Tucker Posted 8 months ago

Our chikdren bennifited so much from Mr. Heilmabs class. He is a phenomimmnal teacher!

Linda & Gil Rumsey Posted 8 months ago

The Life Changer of the Year award describes Keil Hileman perfectly. He changes the lives of each person he meets! We have seen this not only in the public school setting but also in the secular. We have gone to church with Keil for 25 years & have watched first hand how he brings joy to all who know him. Many times it is difficult to get youth out of bed to attend church but Keli has them waiting for him by the door each Sunday morning. Teens of today's world face many challenges & changes. Keil always gives them empathy & encouragement. He shares a smile and a hug no matter the circumstances or situations. This is true for the adults he comes in contact as well. We believe Keil Hileman deserves this award because he truly is a Life Changer to all!

Jennifer Wackerla Posted 8 months ago

Keil Hileman is truly an amazing man!! He has chaperoned a trip to Washington D.C. for as many years as I can remember, but a couple of years ago I asked him for a favor while they were in D.C. I told him the story about my father passing away, being cremated, and wanting his ashes to be in a niche wall in Arlington National Cemetery. While my family was able to respect my father's wishes, we were not able to see the completed covering on the niche, as it is created after the ceremony. Keil MADE the time to go to the niche wall my father's ashes were in, included two of my previous sixth grade students in the hunt, and took beautiful pictures of the niche covering! Not only was I thankful for the pictures, but so were my siblings and extended family. Can never express how much his kindness has meant to me and my family! --Jennifer Wackerla

Linda & Gil Rumsey Posted 8 months ago

The title of this competition so fits our friend Keil Hileman! We have seen Keil impact not only his public school students but very importantly many young lives in our church, (and all members) by his good example!I love We know young people going through their teenage years are faced with many challenges & changes. We have seen first hand how he has listened with empathy & responded with encouragement. Not only have the students been thankful but their parents as well Keil Hileman is truly a life changer to all who know him!

Dr. Bill Gilhaus Posted 8 months ago

I was Mr. Hileman’s first principal and had the opportunity to interview and hire him for a Social Studies position at DeSoto Junior High School. It was his first teaching position out of college and I was immediately moved by his passion for teaching and students. After spending several years at DeSoto Junior High together we opened a new school Monticello Trails Middle School. In a new school, there are many positions to be filled. Mr. Hileman was always willing to volunteer and lend a helping hand whether it was coaching, leading the Student Government, overseeing the snack bar during extracurricular events or serving on a variety of committees. He excelled in the classroom as a teacher and his students always scored extremely high on the Social Studies State Assessment. Mr. Hileman felt it was essential that students could experience history hands on which led to the beginning of the museum. He spent countless hours gathering artifacts to bring the past to life. His students loved seeing and hearing stories about all of the artifacts displayed in the classroom. Lastly, Mr. Hileman loves teaching and is committed to seeing his students succeed.

Monet Straub Posted 9 months ago

I owe much of my patriotism, love of history, and passion for civil service to Mr. Hileman. The hands-on learning opportunities he provided my classmates, and I were nothing short of life-changing. In 2005, my dad and I went on Mr.Hileman’s annual Washington D.C. trip. All students had the opportunity to write an essay to win a chance to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.  I was one of the lucky students chosen to lay the wreath. That moment changed the trajectory of my life. As a student with dyslexia, having a teacher recognize and encourage my writing abilities was irreplaceable. However, more importantly, the opportunity allowed me to understand what it meant to be an American more fully. The memorial symbolizes the ultimate sacrifice made by countless men and women in uniform, and the toll it takes on their loved ones to keep our country safe. Many teachers would not have taken a group of middle schoolers to ArlingtonCemetery, opting for a museum or something seemingly less somber. That is what sets Mr. Hileman apart; he believes his students are capable of processing difficult and heavy moral issues. His class is not merely about watching movies and looking at old objects. It is about what the artifacts signified to the people of their time and the impact they have on current happenings. It seems impossible that an 11-year-old could understand or respect the gravity of a slave collar from the 1700s or a naval cap from a WW2 American soldier, but they will if expected to. Mr. Hileman has high expectations for his students, and in response, they rise to meet and exceed them. Since Mr. Hileman’s class, I went on to get a degree in political science and a law degree. Currently, I am an attorney working in public service.  I know I would not be where I am today if it was not for Mr. Hileman’s encouragement, curiosity, and high expectations.  

Shelle Field Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is one of the most caring educators, both in and out of the school room, that I have ever encountered. He is alsoan exemplary leader and role model for the youth at the De Soto United Methodist Church. Shelle Field, Community member

Ben Pickert Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is undoubtedly the right person to receive this award! Not only have his years of dedicated, passionate work revolutionized the way history is taught, but he has also changed the life of every single student who was ever lucky enough to walk into his classroom. The amount of hardships Keil has faced in creating his radically inventive program and keeping it growing in the face of adversity is truly inspiring. He is the best candidate your award has ever put up for nomination. Guaranteed. Thank you, Mr. Hileman, for everything you have done for me as a former student of yours, but also everything you have done for my peers, my family, and my community. You are a hero, and you deserve to be recognized for it.

Ben Pickert Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is undoubtedly the right person to receive this award! Not only have his years of dedicated, passionate work revolutionized the way history is taught, but he has also changed the life of every single student who was ever lucky enough to walk into his classroom. The amount of hardships Keil has faced in creating his radically inventive program and keeping it growing in the face of adversity is truly inspiring. He is the best candidate your award has ever put up for nomination. Guaranteed. Thank you, Mr. Hileman, for everything you have done for me as a former student of yours, but also everything you have done for my peers, my family, and my community. You are a hero, and you deserve to be recognized for it.

Quinn Tucker Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman's Archaeology class was a bit of an Easter egg back in early high school. It was something you couldn't take until later on and was an extra buss ride away so only those who had already been had intel. Knowledge of his class was mostly spread through word of mouth by the students as if it was some sort of legend. I remember hearing descriptions of an unbelievable classroom full to the brim with artifacts and museum pieces, where you learned about ancient history and the process of that history's rediscovery. They said there was sand and fossils inside the desks. Do you know how crazy that sounds to a regular high school kid? Sounds like something out of harry potter not Kansas. Those few of us lucky enough to catch wind and take the class were greeted by exactly what was described, a classroom disguised as a museum. (Or a museum disguised as a classroom I'm still not exactly sure which) This kind of thing shouldn't exist, its so far off from the bland 2 poster classrooms I grew up in that it didn't even feel like school. But that's the kicker. I learned more in my few semesters in that class than I did in all of my history classes combined and history was my favorite subject so it's not like I wasn't paying attention. The craziest part was that the classroom was only half of the magic. The rest was the teacher. Keil Hileman taught me that knowledge is caught not taught and man did he throw like an mvp. Every day was filled with lessons about our history and stories we had read in books, but accompanied by items from those events which he acquired through his own volition. He made boring stories interesting and they stuck. Everyone in that class loved it. His personally and passion created the most positive learning environment ive ever seen. It's the only class I was excited to go to every time i went. His drive and passion inspired his students. He genuinely cared for our growth as people. I mean heck I've gotten jobs because of this man and lessons and experience his class gave me. For example, the stove. The man let me take a stove older than my oldest living relative home for a restoration project. I spent every day after school working on cleaning that thing the best i could for like 3 weeks at least. I'd never had a job, id never worked long term, but i put full time hours into this thing slowly working the rust out of it. Was it hard? Yes. Was it tedious? Yes. But to this day that was my favorite class project i've ever worked on. It was important, it was a challenge and I grew as a person because of it. How many teachers allowed you to have an impact on history and help prolong a stores lifespan? I hope my children can run into a teacher like this because I haven't seen or heard of a single other like him. The man has the aura of a warrior and the presence of a sage and I will never forget the impact, the values, and lessons Keil Heilman taught me all those years ago.

Kevin Straub Posted 9 months ago

To whom it may concern, Keil Hileman is a Life Changer! Keil changed my life and both of my children’s lives. My daughter Monet and my son Torin both took Keil’s class all three years while at Monticello Trails Middle School (MTMS 2005-2010). Additionally, both my children and I attended the Washington D.C. trip chaperoned by Mr. Hileman. Keil introduced my daughter to how the government works which made her interested in working in that field. Since then my daughter has received a degree in political science, a law degree, and now works for the Kansas State Treasurer's Office. I learned more about the U.S. government on my weekend trip to D.C. with Mr. Hileman then I did in 16 years of education. After that trip to D.C., I got involved in government and ran for Shawnee City Council. If you know Keil Hileman you know he cares about educating and improving the lives of others. I am proud to recommend Keil Hileman as the best teacher I have ever known. I am happy to answer any questions you may have just call me. Kevin Straub 913-558-8000

Carlie Howe Posted 9 months ago

This class was always one if my favorites. When it came time to pick classes everyone was always stressed over if there were going to get it placed in their schedule or not. Even today I will see movies that he would show us and remember all the cool history lessons he would teach through them. I have 3 siblings and every one of us fell in love with this class. He was always so fun and easy to talk to and would light up the hallways and classroom with his big booming voice. He truly loves what he does and cares about his students inside and outside of the classroom.

Carmen Shelly Posted 9 months ago

Thank you, Mr. Hileman, for all you do for the students and USD #232. As a teacher who works with gifted students, you are a living example of how to follow a passion and make it come to life. You treat your students as fellow learners along your journey. Yes, you may have some insight that they don't because of your experiences. Yet, you are open to their ideas and their questions, leading down divergent paths. You set an example of how to work within the constraints of time and resources to push the edges of what is possible. Your tireless energy and your positive outlook, even in the face of criticism and hardship, is a model for gifted students who sometimes fear standing out from the crowd. Keep doing what you are doing . . . changing one life at a time!

Kristen Hoffman Posted 9 months ago

I first met Mr. Hileman six years ago when I moved from teaching at the elementary level to the middle school level. I remember walking into his classroom and immediately feeling overwhelmed with the amount of artifacts he has in his classroom and wondered how my students would do in his class. It took no time at all for me to realize that this class would go down as the favorite class for all of their middle school time. All students walk into his classroom knowing they are loved and that they will be held accountable for their learning because he takes the time every day to check in with his students and the students know they have to meet the expectations and they don’t mind living up to those expectations because he makes the class fun with stories, movies and artifacts. If you don’t believe a student when they say that this is their favorite class, then come teach on the other side of the wall like I have for the last several years, and you will hear the excitement that comes from the students (and the teacher) on a daily basis.

Dalton Gabbert Posted 9 months ago

I am a former student of Mr. Hileman, and he was a phenomenal teacher, and outstanding person. He put a new twist on social studies, and actually got me to enjoy it. I had never enjoyed social studies until I had his class, and he and his class have influenced me to enjoy it. I know many people who feel the same way, and I don’t know a single person more deserving of this award.

Ann Ring Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is a amazing teacher that has a way of reaching every student that enters this classroom. He has the ability to engage students that have checked out of school and the only reason they come to school is because of him and his classroom. I worked as a Para in the district and students would tell me that when they meet Mr. Hileman he made them feel important and that he sparked their interest in school. Some students struggle with standard classes but in his classroom they felt empowered and smart. I also had 2 children of my own take his class and it added an additional love for school and history. He is a unique teacher.

AARON Ide Posted 9 months ago

Mr Hileman has been a fantastic influence on our son. Our son is actually excited about going to class, thanks to Mr Hileman. Each time we speak with Mr Hileman, my wife and I talk about how we would like to be in his class. He makes it exciting and to where you want to be there! I think he is a true blessing to the students and to the school district! Thank you for all you do Mr Hileman!!

Meg Overbaugh Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for a year during middle school by complete chance. I ended up in his classroom for my Social Studies Extension, and it became one of the best school experiences I've had to date. He made history a very interesting subject through his unique teachings and collection of artifacts, and it was probably the most fun I've ever had with a history class. Hileman is an amazing and innovative teacher who has positively impacted so many people, and I'm so happy to have had the chance to have him as an instructor. His encouraging words have helped inspire me to want to do great things.

Lee Knapp Posted 9 months ago

Keil is a unique educator. He brings a sense of wonder and curiosity to his classroom. He instills a deep appreciation and true interpretation of history to develop his students into lifelong learners. His compassion for his students and love of teaching make him well deserving of this award. He is a life changer for everyone he meets, inside and outside the classroom.

Carol Crouch Posted 9 months ago

Keil is a treasure beyond and above any norm. He teaches, challenges, and instills a sense of wonder and excitement to history. Students develop lifelong curiosity and search for truth beyond the classroom. We need many more teachers like Keil, teachers and visionaries who take the basic classroom concept and turn the tables on stilted, archaic teaching methods. He is compassionate, caring and dedicated to developing young minds so that they never stop learning. He is so deserving of this award.

Ryan Stout Posted 9 months ago

I remember taking Mr. Hileman’s Honors Archaeology during my senior year at MVHS. I could take this class in place of another one and there was only one seat left so I decided to take it. I honestly don’t regret making this choice because he was always very accessible and open to giving additional help if needed. Mr. Hileman has taught me through touching artifacts in his museum and learning the history behind them that each artifact has a unique story and cultural importance attached to it. Also, when I went on the field trip at the end of the year I felt like the history that I learned in textbooks in the previous years was reinforced through these artifacts at a nearby museum. Through hands on learning, going the extra mile and being the most accessible and vulnerable are reasons he should be life changer of the year.

Alex Sambevski Posted 9 months ago

Heilman completley changed my senior year of high school. He made me love history. The way he teaches and uses his classroom is so unique and inspiring. He taught me more in one year than any teacher has before. The way you can learn so much about so many different things and still retain the knowledge is incredible. I could never stop talking about all the great experiences I had in the museum, and the lifelong friends I made in his classroom. Heilman will always be my favorite teacher, I hope he can continue to inspire others.

Briana Posted 9 months ago

He is the nicest, most inclusive man. He teaches with passion and teaches like no other. I still remember things in detail from his class. I was in his class when the attack on 9-11 happened. It is something I can never forget and I was so thankful to be in his class at that time on that day. He made learning fun; it never felt like a chore. I was never confused because I discovered the answers myself. I am thankful to have had him as my teacher. I would brag about his room and felt bad for the kids that didn't get to take his class. I hope he wins all the awards because he is the best. He is the reason I have decided to become a teacher. He has inspired me to inspire others.

Kelly Schaefer Posted 9 months ago

My daughter transferred the another middle school in the district this year. She was so excited for a new experience, but said she only hesitated for 2 reasons: She would miss her friends, and she wouldn’t be able to have Museum Connections again. It’s such a blessing that she was able to take this class. Thank you for truly investing your heart in your teaching, Mr. Hileman!

Molly Zahner Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is such a special gift! It’s hard to know where to start when people ask what he and his class are like. He has so many great qualities that are hard to come by all wrapped up in one teacher. He and his class are inspirational! He feed into his students nothing but love, strength, positivity, and knowledge at a level kids rarely get to experience in a class setting. The way he has explored the ways of teaching and managed to teach such valuable information in such a fun and mesmerizing way is beyond any teacher I have ever know. He gets everyone engaged in such unique ways that are so full of fun that you never forget the lessons. He taught archeology class my senior year (2015) and I talk about that class and things I had learned in the museum, school and life lessons/wisdom, to this day and I’m sure throughout the many to come. He thought me what it was like to be truly passionate about something and give it your all. I can’t imagine anyone who deserves this award more than this Man. His ways of teaching are unmatched by any I have experienced.

Lindsay Vanlerberg Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman back in middle school for Museum Connections. I’m about to graduate college and I still have so many fond memories of his course and Mr. Hileman himself. Most students wanted to take his course because of the insanely decorated room, with thousands of artifacts lining the walls, and his fun personality. But once you went through the semester, you realized that he truly cares about his students in every sense of the word; he wants them to succeed, understand the topics, and wants them to care about what they’re learning. He is so passionate about what he does and I think his level of enthusiasm for his course & students is rather rare. I will never forget walking into class one day & Mr. Hileman wasn’t talking (which is very unusual for him), as soon as the class got settled in, he pulled up a website on his computer where it would read back everything that he was typing in — he was sick & lost his voice so he couldn’t talk to us. He taught the entire class using that computer voice thing!! I mean, to care about your students so much that you’ll go to such a length to make sure they still get to hear what you’re trying to say when you can’t say it yourself... I’ve never experienced anything like it. Mr. Hileman deserves this award more than anyone.

Blake Webber Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for one year in middle school and clearly remember how much I enjoyed his class. It was unlike any other class I had ever taken and really made me enjoy history. I remember how cool it was to literally have class in the middle of a museum that was located in our school. The year I had Mr. Hileman it was the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and I can remember working on a time capsule full of artifacts. I will always remember the way he taught and the excitement he had to share his passion with others. I hope that I can be half the teacher he is!

Tonia Montee Posted 9 months ago

We moved to West Shawnee in 2005. When we moved here we had 3 kids. An eighth grader, a second grader and a kindergartner. The move was probably the hardest for our eighth grader. He was leaving behind friends he had had since third grade. Starting a new school as a teenager was scary. We went to enroll our son at Monticello Trails Middle School. The counselor showed us around the school and pointed out where Chases classes would be. Mr. Hileman was in his classroom that day and made our son feel so welcome. He said if he needed anything to come see him. His classroom was AMAZING! Unfortunately there is a wait to get into his class. By the time we enrolled, his class was full. Chase was so disappointed because he really connected with Mr. Hileman and it was the first time he seemed ok about starting at a new school. On the first day of school, Chase was called to the office to speak with his counselor. She had amazing news! Mr Hileman had an opening in his classroom. I have no doubt that Mr. Hileman had something to do with that. He made a young mans transition from leaving behind friends and familiarity to be a smooth transition. He got into sports, met new friends and thrived at MTMS. Mr. Hileman also taught our other 2 daughters. He has been such a positive role model for all 3 of our kids. Thank you Mr. Hileman for truly caring and teaching our kids.

Carol Crouch Posted 9 months ago

Keil is a gift to education. It is difficult to grasp in words the impact he has had on young people (and us older ones, too). Through his passion for teaching and igniting his students' curiosity for learning, the world is a better place. I have seen his classroom/museum and was so impressed by how he "recruits" fellow historians by accepting, displaying, and loving their own personal history in the way of artifacts. These help Keil teach with these "aids" and the students grasp the historical impact so much more realistically. Hard working, earnest, compassionate, and visionary .. this is the stuff this teacher is made of.

Dona Dubbs Posted 9 months ago

My older sisters had Mr. Hileman in middle school, but I had to go to another school so I missed out. Or so I thought, the opportunity came around again in high school. I was so thankful it did. It gave me a better appreciation for history and the reality of it. I learned about so many different things and felt like the museum was such a safe space for learning and a place to ask questions and experience new things. Mr. Hileman was so excited and real about the topics we discussed. I was thankful for an opportunity to get excited about history and even more a safe place to learn.

Kelsey (Thomas) Schultz Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman 20 something years ago and to this day I remember how he made me feel. I was having a rough day and an even rougher time at home, which I don’t think Mr. Hileman knew at the time. After class he asked me if I wanted to eat lunch in the classroom and help him organize a few of his artifacts. I was over the moon excited. For a teacher to notice a student is having a rough time and to give up his lunch break to help is something to be celebrated. So thank you Mr Hileman for all the lunch breaks you’ve given up to help your students!

Taylor Karrick (Cooke) Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was one of my teachers when I was in seventh grade. After thirteen years, I still remember the impact he made. He made learning about history and even going to class fun, which I’m sure any middle schooler would probably agree is not. Mr. Hileman is one of the first teachers I had who made me want to become the teacher I am today. It wasn’t anything that he said, I could just see the joy and passion (love) he had for his students and his job. He deserves this award.

Tonya Ebner Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is a true 'teacher'. He teaches above and beyond just the academics. I have seen Mr. Hileman put endless amounts of his personal time into inspiring even more children at additional events outside the classroom with his artifacts and stories. He cares about each and every student and my husband and I are very grateful that he has been an inspiration and wonderful role model for both of our children.

Alexa Schriner Posted 9 months ago

It has been over 11 years since I had the amazing opportunity and pleasure of having Mr. Hileman as one of my teachers. This class was a blessing. And has left me with so many great memories as well as history that I will never forget just because of the way he taught his class. He kept it entertaining, keeping my attention 100% of the time. I remember being so excited any time I got to go to his class that day. One of my favorite movies still to this day as a grown adult, married woman, and a mother, I saw for the first time in one of our classes when learning about the Samurai. “The Last Samurai” has stuck with me throughout all these years. And I just have to say, thank you so much Mr. Hileman for embedding so many great educational and amazing classroom memories that I will forever cherish. You were and still are one of the greatest educators I have ever had even throughout all the years of college. So thank you. Keep doing amazing things, and I am so excited for the new updates to the museum. Kiddos reading these comments or hearing about taking this class- I HIGHLY recommend taking this class. It will change your life forever and you will have amazing memories to cherish. Again. Thank you Mr. Hileman, for a lifetime worth of amazing memories that will never fade. Alexa Schriner, Mill Valley Graduate of 2014

Madison Handy Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is seriously the best teacher ever!!!! Not only does he teach the coolest things about history, but also some of the most important life advice! Thank you Mr. Hileman for everything!

Kate Jackson Posted 9 months ago

Mr Hileman was one of my favorite teachers in seventh grade back in 2001. I remember coming into his classroom to his endless museum that I learned more and more about every day. He made it interesting and he allowed us to contribute to his collection. We became a part of the stories he always told us about and that is something I will never forget. He inspired me to become the teacher I am today.

Lane Burson Posted 9 months ago

Mr Hileman is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. He is awesome at making a connection with the students and making learning fun. He also makes learning hands on with digs and also letting the students touch and see the real artifacts. Which is awesome. He deserves the award the most.

Madison (Acree) Finley Posted 9 months ago

I was lucky enough to have Mr. Hileman as a teacher 6-9th grade. I would sit in his class in awe of his knowledge and genuine excitement to share it with us! I came back to teach in this school district because of teachers like Mr. Hileman. I wanted to be a part of the culture of inquiry and greatness that he helped foster over so many years. He is an idol to me as an educator. I’ve had the honor of inviting him as a guest speaker to introduce different units of study and he was thrilled to take the time to come ignite the learning of my 4th graders. He is an amazing individual!

Quentin Kornis Posted 9 months ago

Mr. HIleman is one of my best friends and a fantastic role model. I enjoy being around him. When I am in class with him i always feel good. I know he will always accept me for who i am. Some of my best high school memories have been in his archeology classes. I look forward to ending my days with him. Mr. H often makes my worst days end in a good way. I enjoy the openness of Mr. Hileman's classroom. I look forward to talking about history and archaeology and life. We have had several very brutal conversations about drugs. MR. Hileman has shared several stories about drugs and their negative effect on people's lives. I learned to stay away from these things because of Mr. Hileman. He has taught me other life lessons.

Lars Erickson Posted 9 months ago

The question "What makes a teacher great?" is a question that all educators should consider. Teachers have an immense amount of influence on students- they invariably impact student lives. Upon reading what this award is for, to celebrate "those who are making a significant difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership," I do not know someone more worthy of the award than Mr. Keil Hileman. Not only did he make class enjoyable, but he handled my unending classroom orneriness with a relaxed panache. Mr. Hileman doesn't simply exemplify these positive traits to students, but he exemplifies these traits to all students and people he encounters.

Lynn Zavodny Posted 9 months ago

Not only is Mr. Hileman one of those very special human beings and teachers who cares about everyone he comes in contact with...he cares deeply for those who have served our Country. Every Veterans Day our middle school honors our Veterans with a special assembly. Mr. Hileman provides the audience with a verbal history of our Country and defines what it means to be a Veteran and how we show respect to those who have served as well as proper respect to our flag. It is the most moving assembly conducted at our school. In addition to his global knowledge, which he generously shares with his students, Mr. Hileman shares his heart with his students.

Helen Springer Posted 9 months ago

One of the best teachers I have ever had. And a class where you actually take away facts and learn as if it was a real museum!!

Beth Wilder Posted 9 months ago

My maiden name is, Parsons. I adored Mr. Hileman and his class. I will never forget when he passed around a slave collar. I remember feeling the weight and tears coming into my eyes. My heart broke for them, that's when history became real and not just stories or movies. He brings history alive. I talked about him and his classroom so much that my family began to adore him just as much. My grandfather donated his barber chair to his museum. My dad and uncle had their haircuts in that chair until they were adults. He changed my life and my families life. He deserves this award, and even more. Best teacher this word has to offer.

Emily Godwin Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is simply amazing. I had the privilege of having him as my teacher in middle school and high school. Every time I walked into his class I truly felt as though I was entering the past, about to go on an adventure, or coming into a whole new world! The way Mr. Hileman teaches is truly magical. Now being a teacher myself, I could only hope to be half the teacher he is!

Jack Allley Posted 9 months ago

I have known Mr. Hileman my whole life. He lived next to my MeMa. They are still friends today. I grew up playing with his daughters. All of my older sisters took classes with him. i was looking forward to taking classes with him all elementary school. I had his class first quarter, 2nd hour this year. Mr. Hileman changed my school days in a very simple way. He taught me about greece, egypt and everything else going on around me that i did not know about. i think he is a great teacher because he changes the lives of students in his classes because of his amazing museum. The museum is amazing because of all the really special cool artifacts. Mr. Hileman makes them come alive every day. He doesn't just teach, he teachers with stories. He has giant Bison head in his room that he names Billy Jo Jim Bob Bison. You simply can't win a staring contest with a stuffed bison looking at you in class! I am so excited to get Mr. Hileman again in Museum Connections classes in 7th and 8th grade again. I also hope to take his super cool archeology classes when I am in High School.

Pat Roberts Posted 9 months ago

Born with great charisma and an amazing sense of curiosity, Keil emotes such depth of knowledge and genuine joy for any any subject he pursues, that even the most lackadaisical of us gets swept up in the awe of his enthusiasm. His ability to teach on any level can be credited to his skill at breaking down the most dry or complicated subject without talking down or lecturing to his audience. He makes everything come alive and you feel like you were there.

Layna Suman Posted 9 months ago

Most amazing teacher, he deserves this award for sure.

Devin Sitcler Posted 9 months ago

Oh man, this guy was and is my favorite teacher of all time. This guy made me look forward to going to school. I would wake up, and feel like throwing up, but I would remember that I had Heilman's class, and I would force myself because that class was so good! if only all the teachers were like him.

madeline hanna Posted 9 months ago

He made social studies fun, he made sure we were all keeping up and explained it in a way that everyone could understand. I’ve had no other teacher care as much as he does.

Jack Allley Posted 9 months ago

I have known Mr. Hileman my whole life. He lived next to my MeMa. They are still friends today. I grew up playing with his daughters. All of my older sisters took classes with him. i was looking forward to taking classes with him all elementary school. I had his class first quarter, 2nd hour this year. Mr. Hileman changed my school days in a very simple way. He taught me about greece, egypt and everything else going on around me that i did not know about. i think he is a great teacher because he changes the lives of students in his classes because of his amazing museum. The museum is amazing because of all the really special cool artifacts. Mr. Hileman makes them come alive every day. He doesn't just teach, he teachers with stories. He has giant Bison head in his room that he names Billy Jo Jim Bob Bison. You simply can't win a staring contest with a stuffed bison looking at you in class! I am so excited to get Mr. Hileman again in Museum Connections classes in 7th and 8th grade again. I also hope to take his super cool archeology classes when I am in High School.

Luke Wood Posted 9 months ago

Mr. hi old man without the d is one of my favorite teachers ever. I went on his trip to D.C that he does every year. He was very active and a great leader. I notice that he helps students when ever possible. To kids he is a teacher but also a friend. He always offers advice and offers people to come talk at lunch. He should 100% win this!!!

Sydney Lenon Posted 9 months ago

I think mr hileman should win this award. there’s not many teachers that have this special bond with almost every kid in this school.

Jack Allley Posted 9 months ago

I have known Mr. Hileman my whole life. He lived next to my MeMa. They are still friends today. I grew up playing with his daughters. All of my older sisters took classes with him. i was looking forward to taking classes with him all elementary school. I had his class first quarter, 2nd hour this year. Mr. Hileman changed my school days in a very simple way. He taught me about greece, egypt and everything else going on around me that i did not know about. i think he is a great teacher because he changes the lives of students in his classes because of his amazing museum. The museum is amazing because of all the really special cool artifacts. Mr. Hileman makes them come alive every day. He doesn't just teach, he teachers with stories. He has giant Bison head in his room that he names Billy Jo Jim Bob Bison. You simply can't win a staring contest with a stuffed bison looking at you in class! I am so excited to get Mr. Hileman again in Museum Connections classes in 7th and 8th grade again. I also hope to take his super cool archeology classes when I am in High School.

John O’Hara Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman encouraged my children to want to go to school. He made learning fun. And that is it. They want to learn more and because of him they keep on growing and learning.

Sarah Johnston Posted 9 months ago

When you walk into Mr. Hileman's classroom, it is an experience like no other. With artifacts all over the walls and a welcoming smile, it is one of those classes you can't wait to take. Mr. Hileman has dedicated his life to inspiring the next generation and educating them so that they can reach their full potential. His interactive classroom setting and his will to teach makes coming to his class the highlight of many students' day. I cannot list how many students have found a love for learning in his classroom. While Museum Connections might have been an amazingly fun experience, my life was changed the most through his Leadership class. He showed us examples of different forms of leadership and convinced us that we too had the power to make those things happen. He cares about each and every one of his students and treats them as his equals. Mr. Hileman doesn't teach a class - he teaches an experience. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Hileman deserves this award.

Kelsie Wilhoit (Schuman) Posted 9 months ago

Me. Hileman’s class was the absolute BEST!!! It was like a stepping across the threshold into a whole different world. We always learned a lot, probably without realizing we were learning. Keil deserves this award, 100%! He cares SO much about his students and that fact is evident in his dedication and his attitude every single day. He was always a joy to be around and his passion for learning was contagious.

Cheryl Vielhauer Posted 9 months ago

My son, who is now 27, had Mr. Hileman as his 7th grade teacher. He was always so excited to go to class and see what new learning experience Mr. Hileman had planned for the day. He passed his passion for learning on to my son and I see that now as he strives to better himself everyday with his job and as a person. I have also had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Hileman at my office and he is always and smiling every time you see him.

Kayla Brethauer Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman as my teacher for two years in middle school. I was always excited to go to the museum for class, which is an accomplishment on its own for a middle school class. Mr. Hileman inspires me to continue to push through the hard times in life and always to do things that I am passionate about.

Tiffany Thomas Posted 9 months ago

My son, Tyler, has been working with Mr. H for nearly 3 years now. He has been Tyler's after school tutor, in-class teacher, mentor and friend. Mr. H came in to our lives at a particularly low point for us as a family - a time that was incredibly difficult for my son. Mr. H not only helped us get things turned around academically, but also turned things around for Tyler in a much bigger sense as well. Through working with Mr. H Tyler found school enjoyable again. Mr. H brought a sense of security and stability to Tyler which resonated throughout his demeanor and outlook. Mr. H has changed the lives of many many students as evidenced by these testimonies but for me, changing the life of just 1 - MY son - has made all the difference in the world.

Wyatt Posted 9 months ago

I like that he is so informative on the subjects he knows

Sydney Ebner Posted 9 months ago

Kiel Hileman has impacted my life in many ways. I had his museum connections class in middle school and his archaeology class in high school (which I enjoyed so much, I am coming back next semester!) In both courses I have felt so drawn in because Kiel Hileman is such a passionate teacher and an excellent storyteller. I can still remember information about history from middle school museum connections because I was so engaged in the story of it, and I am still excited about it. Kiel Hileman is not only an inspirational educator, but a true life changer. Last year, He was willing to discuss with me and a parent about a school related problem with nervousness. I felt so much hope after that discussion. After a year of feeling under the weather, Kiel Hileman was able to shine a light, and I will always be thankful for that. I know he has done this for so many others as well, and through this, his teaching, and so much more, Kiel Hileman has changed so many people’s lives for the better.

Sean Atchison Posted 9 months ago

While I have many memories or Mr. Hileman in my home life and school, my favorite are from his HS archeology class. The dig tables he invented allowed us do simulated digs. This was one of my favorite activities. The Museum atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. Every other class in HS was not. He literally created a museum classroom with thousands of cool artifacts that we loved being surrounded by. However, It is not the artifacts, It is Mr. Hileman that made us feel important. When I was in his class with other students, he never talked to us as a class. He treated each and everyone of us as unique special person. I was always comfortable learning with Mr. Hileman. I knew i could talk with i wanted to... or simply listen and learn without getting in trouble. He allowed us to think, reflect and learn in our own ways. Each as individual people. One thing that i reflect on often is my last final exam project presentation i did with him. I hate presenting in front of people. I usually avoid this at all costs. However, on that day I felt empowered to present to our archeology class. The atmosphere mr. hileman had created helped me be the best presenter i could be. i was not worried about other students. I was not worried about the presentation itself. I was simply comfortable to be myself and share what i had learned. I honestly don't think i have ever been as comfortable presenting before or since. I hold onto this memory because it empowers me. I may never present like this again, but I know I did. I know I can. This makes me feel great about myself. Mr. Hileman was my teacher. He is my friend, and he changed my life.

Noah Hookstra Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is not a teacher. Teacher can't summarize the depths of his passions, the length of his efforts, or the kindness in his heart. Mr. Hileman is the first teacher to make me look at teaching like a public service. Yes he collects and preserves artifacts, but if you ask him about them, he will tell you that they don't belong to him. They belong to the students, that to take away the ability to hold genuine slave shackles, or hear a real phonograph record is to take away access to understanding. An understanding that leads to wisdom. He isn't the crazy guy that collects anything that moves (although he is that wonderful man as well), he has enshrined within me as with countless students a curiosity and protective instinct towards history. In my darkest times he was fun teacher in a fun class that was devoted to the best things of humanity. I can't fathom a classroom that is dark while he is in it. He is a good example of the human reslientness to adhere to virtue. I haven't met a man worth more who has suffered as much as he has.

Sean Atchison Posted 9 months ago

While I have many memories or Mr. Hileman in my home life and school, my favorite are from his HS archeology class. The dig tables he invented allowed us do simulated digs. This was one of my favorite activities. The Museum atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. Every other class in HS was not. He literally created a museum classroom with thousands of cool artifacts that we loved being surrounded by. However, It is not the artifacts, It is Mr. Hileman that made us feel important. When I was in his class with other students, he never talked to us as a class. He treated each and everyone of us as unique special person. I was always comfortable learning with Mr. Hileman. I knew i could talk with i wanted to... or simply listen and learn without getting in trouble. He allowed us to think, reflect and learn in our own ways. Each as individual people. One thing that i reflect on often is my last final exam project presentation i did with him. I hate presenting in front of people. I usually avoid this at all costs. However, on that day I felt empowered to present to our archeology class. The atmosphere mr. hileman had created helped me be the best presenter i could be. i was not worried about other students. I was not worried about the presentation itself. I was simply comfortable to be myself and share what i had learned. I honestly don't think i have ever been as comfortable presenting before or since. I hold onto this memory because it empowers me. I may never present like this again, but I know I did. I know I can. This makes me feel great about myself. Mr. Hileman was my teacher. He is my friend, and he changed my life.

Natalie Kalthoff Posted 9 months ago

Our introduction to Keil Hileman was when our son Shai came to us when preparing to select his classes for 6th grade. He was so excited about this class called “Museum Connections” he just had to get into it! He did get into the class for his 6th grade year and was super excited to go to school every day. It seemed as though this one class and this one teacher was changing the way he viewed school. He was excited to go to school and find out what cool things Mr. Hileman would be talking about that day. When preparing his schedule for 7th grade he already knew that he wanted to take Mr. Hileman’s class again. Once getting the schedule for the year he was very disappointed not to have his class. Shai struggled a bit with some of his classes and knowing that he and Keil already had a relationship from class we decided to ask if he would be interested in tutoring him. The rest is history as he has been tutoring Shai since the beginning of 7th grade and continues to tutor him this year. Keil has been instrumental in tutoring Shai. He helps him approach his homework in a way that can truly help him not only get it finished but understand what it is as well. With everything going on these days and more and more teaching moving to technology & screens, Keil’s approach to teaching hands-on is truly refreshing!

Sean Atchison Posted 9 months ago

While I have many memories or Mr. Hileman in my home life and school, my favorite are from his HS archeology class. The dig tables he invented allowed us do simulated digs. This was one of my favorite activities. The Museum atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. Every other class in HS was not. He literally created a museum classroom with thousands of cool artifacts that we loved being surrounded by. However, It is not the artifacts, It is Mr. Hileman that made us feel important. When I was in his class with other students, he never talked to us as a class. He treated each and everyone of us as unique special person. I was always comfortable learning with Mr. Hileman. I knew i could talk with i wanted to... or simply listen and learn without getting in trouble. He allowed us to think, reflect and learn in our own ways. Each as individual people. One thing that i reflect on often is my last final exam project presentation i did with him. I hate presenting in front of people. I usually avoid this at all costs. However, on that day I felt empowered to present to our archeology class. The atmosphere mr. hileman had created helped me be the best presenter i could be. i was not worried about other students. I was not worried about the presentation itself. I was simply comfortable to be myself and share what i had learned. I honestly don't think i have ever been as comfortable presenting before or since. I hold onto this memory because it empowers me. I may never present like this again, but I know I did. I know I can. This makes me feel great about myself. Mr. Hileman was my teacher. He is my friend, and he changed my life.

Caroline Alley Posted 9 months ago

Mr.Hileman is a great person and an amazing teacher. He brings out the best in not only his students but everyone he meets. I've known him all my life since I was only a little girl and he has changed my view on so many things, in my personal life and in my education. He has made an insane impact on my life and I feel so excited walking into the atmosphere of his classroom. Although sadly I am not in his class this year I still feel that I can always go to him and trust in him. He puts his heart and soul into giving us a fun and educational way of learning. Mr. Hileman is one of the most incredible people I've ever met and I know that he does deserve this award.

Sean Atchison Posted 9 months ago

While I have many memories or Mr. Hileman in my home life and school, my favorite are from his HS archeology class. The dig tables he invented allowed us do simulated digs. This was one of my favorite activities. The Museum atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable. Every other class in HS was not. He literally created a museum classroom with thousands of cool artifacts that we loved being surrounded by. However, It is not the artifacts, It is Mr. Hileman that made us feel important. When I was in his class with other students, he never talked to us as a class. He treated each and everyone of us as unique special person. I was always comfortable learning with Mr. Hileman. I knew i could talk with i wanted to... or simply listen and learn without getting in trouble. He allowed us to think, reflect and learn in our own ways. Each as individual people. One thing that i reflect on often is my last final exam project presentation i did with him. I hate presenting in front of people. I usually avoid this at all costs. However, on that day I felt empowered to present to our archeology class. The atmosphere mr. hileman had created helped me be the best presenter i could be. i was not worried about other students. I was not worried about the presentation itself. I was simply comfortable to be myself and share what i had learned. I honestly don't think i have ever been as comfortable presenting before or since. I hold onto this memory because it empowers me. I may never present like this again, but I know I did. I know I can. This makes me feel great about myself. Mr. Hileman was my teacher. He is my friend, and he changed my life.

Amy Atchison Posted 9 months ago

I am writing this letter recognizing and recommending a good friend of our family, Mr. Keil Hileman, the greatest history teacher I have ever known. Mr. Hileman is an outstanding teacher who has created a connection between history and my family. Mr. Hileman has been a big help to our family over the past 17 years. Due to my illness, Mr. Hileman has taken my oldest son, Austin, under his wing so to speak. He has been a wonderful influence to Austin and a great mentor. He was even kind enough to provide Austin with a trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Mr. Hileman was rewarded with this trip for being Teacher of the Year. He then went to the community and raised the funds to provide a free trip to Space Camp for my son Austin and two other students. When my second son is in the middle school, Joey, Mr. Hileman has also taken him under his other wing. I will never be able to repay him or ever show him how much he means to our family. Mr. Hileman has called upon my sons to help him with certain projects revolving around our school’s classroom museum. With over 100,000 artifacts, there is always something to do. It really means so much to them and they talk about it for days afterwards. My third son Sean took classes from Mr. Hileman in middle school and high school. My daughter loved his classes in middles school. She is looking forward to HS Archeology. They all adore him. They are cleaning, sorting and working with pieces of America’s History. Even though it might take putting their back into it and getting a little dirty to get the job done, they love it. I remember walking into his classroom for the very first time; I was totally speechless and very emotional. I saw things that I have never seen before and some things I saw I remember from my Great-Grandmother’s house. Those items brought back great memories for me. I am so grateful for the way he teaches and how he lets his students explore history in a way I wish I had known. From listening to my boys talk about Mr. Hileman’s classroom museum, I wish I could sit in it for a day and maybe learn something new that I had never known before. To know Keil Hileman, is to love Keil Hileman and the way he teaches. I don’t know what I would have done the past two summers if it wasn’t for him. We wholeheartedly recommend Mr. Hileman for the life changer of the year award. Mr. Hileman you are truly mine and my whole family’s hero. A hero that changed all of our lives. He is exactly what this award was created to recognize in our schools.

Trinity Posted 9 months ago

He made history so fun

Jennifer Munroe Posted 9 months ago

I am a school social worker and Kiel has connected with many of my students over the years that needed a positive adult in their lives. Anytime I would ask him to check in on a student he would go above and beyond. I really appreciate his positive influence on students and understanding that there is often more going on with kids than what you see inside of the school walls.

Callie Roberts Posted 9 months ago

Kiel Hileman has been an insanely large part of my life. He has helped both me and the people of our school district become better, and has dedicated the majority of his life to bettering his class and the people who come into it. Kiel has positively impacted my life personally by inspiring me to follow my dreams, every project that I’ve done in his class has been about something that I love doing, or something that I’m passionate about, and has helped me to realize what my passions are and what I want to spend the rest of my life doing

Ellie Kerstetter Posted 9 months ago

I had him all throughout middle school and his class was one of my favorite! It was fast pace and was always exciting

Griffin Schenk Posted 9 months ago

I have know of Keil in some capacity for most my life, I met him way back in elementary school during a field trip we took in 5th grade to explore the middle school I was going to attend. I am a senior now, and I am proud to have known him for as long as I have. I have come to know him much better than many other students too. He has helped me in so many ways I have begun to lose count, but I guess the best way to try would to be to start at the beginning. Way back in 6th grade, his class was the class that got me interested in learning; not just the activities given to us by the teachers. Something about his class just filled me with an unbridled curiosity that I had never felt to that point. He was always someone I could count on to have an actual answers to my questions in class, and never failed to have an artifact to match. In 7th grade, I took his class again. But I got to know him so well he offered me a job as a teaching assistant for some summer youth classes at the local community college. This gave me tons of community service hours, a place to meet tons of new people (which I really needed at the time, because I was having a lot of struggles with my current friend group), and the opportunity to get to know my favorite teacher even better. I have gained so many connections out of helping him through that program, including a friend that I still talk to now. During my junior year, I unfortunately had to stop helping him every summer, but he sill helped me in anything I asked him to. The big one over the last two years was my eagle project, as he has been an integral part in helping me to achieve success in my project. He gave me the idea for my project and tried hard to give me every resource he could to make the work easier on me. Without him, my project would have never been completed. Along the way, Keil has been such a big help in other ways too. I could always count on him to be there for me when I really needed it, he was kind and patient when I didn't understand something instead of becoming frustrated like so many other people, he was a wonderful teacher, even when I didn't have him, and lastly and most importantly, he has been an amazing mentor, and even a friend to me. Keil likes to say that over the course of your life, you will make 3-4 lifelong friends who you will fly across the country for you to help you out. I want you to know Keil; if you are reading this, wherever I am, if you call me, I'll be there for you; just like all the times you were for me.

Sydney Ralston Posted 9 months ago

I have had so many teachers throughout my life but none of them have quite left an imprint like Mr. Hileman. I first met him as a little tiny 6th grader when I took his museum connections class. I remember hearing the upper class man students always talking about how cool and fun his classes were. Walking into his classroom that first day was like walking through a time machine. I remember him telling us how every object in this room has a story. Little did I know that those words would forever stick with me. My senior year I was so excited to come back to Mr. Hilemans enchanting classroom to take his Archeology & Artifacts class. I ended every other day with him in there. It was a much smaller group and we all began to get very close. I was able to fully appreciate the kind of teacher Mr. Hileman was too being much more older and mature. He is a good teacher but and even better person. He takes his time to form connections and lifelong bonds with all of his students. He will always go the extra mile for his students & sees the good in everyone. I think my favorite thing though about him is his passion for what he does. Just by watching him teach I always admired the zest for life and learning he has. He truly loves what he does, and I look up to him for that and the amount of knowledge and imagination he has given me and the thousands of other students.

Shurice Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is a fantastic teacher, as evidenced by the popularity of his classes. His class is an elective for middle school and high school students and each year more students want to participate than the school day can accomodate. Both of my sons have taken classes with him during their middle school years and have taken all the classes he offers during the summer. Inspiring kids to learn history in the summer is no easy feat, but he makes it look easy. He is passionate about his work and able to encourage students with their individual interests. My kids used their gifts of cooking, metal work, and computer design to demonstrate learning and personal connection to history. Outside the classroom, Mr. Hileman works tirelessly to support the community, school, and students. He mentored my son for his Boy Scout Eagle Project of cleaning and restoring a fish pond and waterfall on the school property. This pond project that he sponsored for my son will be used by ANOTHER teacher as a part of her environmental sciences coursework. His passion, generosity, and humility make him a deserving recipient of this award. He has impacted our family in measurable ways.

Isaac Steiner Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman my sixth and eighth grade year, as well as having him for a gifted program meeting, of sorts, today. Mr. Hileman is, by far, one of the most influential teachers I have ever had. Today, when Mr. Hileman came into the gifted class for what we call a chat and chew (all of the gifted students vote on a teacher to bring in to ask questions and talk about life with over lunch). Mr. Hileman came in and we talked about everything from how to be more confident in yourself, to talking about different religions, to 19th century philosophers. I saw it as an over all very positive experience and I very much enjoyed the whole experience and loved talking with him again. When I took his class eight grade I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't explain enough how much fun I had learning about a plethora of subjects. I have had so much fun in Mr. Hileman's classes and I can't fully express how much I appreciated being in class, how much I appreciate him as a person, and how much he does for the kids he works with every day.

Abby Musil Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman more than deserves this award. Every day when I step foot into his classroom, I'm greeted by the absolutely incredible feeling of having a safe space. Mr. Hileman's classroom is the most unique I've ever seen, but what really makes it come alive is Mr. Hileman's grin and fascinating stories. He is a one-of-a-kind teacher who I could listen to for hours at a time. Mr. Hileman is the only teacher I know of that I can tell is truly comfortable in front of his students. Before coming into his classroom at the beginning at the year, I wasn't the biggest fan of Social Studies and history, but you can tell Mr. Hileman has a passion for what he teaches, and the passion is passed on to the students. The fact that his students get to pick up, examine, and explore pieces of history while staying in school in just life-changing. Mr. Hileman is one of the most incredible people I've ever met and I know that he truly does deserve this award.

Jaclyn and Casey Steiner Posted 9 months ago

Our 14-year-old son had Mr. Hileman as a teacher in middle school and we also went on his Washington, D.C. trip as a family this past August. Mr. Hileman is the most engaging, sharp witted, smart, funny and honorable teacher I have ever met. He is a gift to students of all ages. Our 9-year-old son thoroughly enjoyed visiting 22 historical sites over three and a half days in Washington, D.C. -- which is a testament in itself about how fantastic and magical his method of teaching is. He layers his lessons with reminders to be good people. Mr. Hileman is a unicorn. He deserves every honor. We cannot say enough to communicate how highly we think of him and value him. ---- Thank you, Mr. Hileman!!! ----

Molly Griffin Posted 9 months ago

I’ve only been in his class for a couple of weeks and he has already changed my life!

Kristen Heath Posted 9 months ago

Middle school was not kind to me. I was new to Kansas, had a thick southern accent, and a bowl cut. Moving to a new school during that time was very difficult, and I did not make friends with ease. Mr. Hileman’s class quickly became my safe haven at school. Not only was the entire classroom filled with artifacts and amazing projects made by past students, but his warm and inviting attitude helped ease my anxiety and had me focusing on my work. He actually made school fun for me, teaching our class “textbook material” in extremely interesting and exciting ways. He would exclaim, “Today class, we are going on an adventure!” Sure, he meant a stationary tour through history, and not an actual trek to the center of the earth. But it got us riled up and ready to learn! He has a unique way of connecting and caring, yet still being the disciplinary you so desperately need in middle school. I can truly say he helped bring me out of my bubble, and encouraged us all to never stop exploring and learning what this world has to offer. He pushed us to become the best versions of ourselves, and taught us to never stop seeking knowledge. Now, as a 32 year old woman, I can still sit here and laugh and smile about the “adventures” Mr. Hileman took us on almost 20 years ago in class. He has made a lasting impact on so many people, and I have yet to come across an educator with the passion and soul that he puts into teaching. Truly one of a kind.

Jenna Posted 9 months ago

If you have he honor of meeting Mr. Hileman you will know within minutes that he is an outstanding individual and teacher. He has a zest for life that makes kids excited to learn. He is an amazing asset to USD 232 and makes parents feel lucky to send their kids to class. He seems to look for the best in each individual and you feel listened to and valued in his presence.

Sara S. Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was my favorite part of middle school. He was an amazing mentor and went out of his way to help us learn in the most unique way. I’m so happy to see he was nominated for his efforts. The hard work he put into the classroom museum made learning fun and memorable.

Nora Lucas Posted 9 months ago

I was in Mr. Hileman’s class just a few years in 2012-2013. My final project was about Roman aqueducts, so I decided to design an elaborate poster about the mechanics of how the aqueducts worked and how they were built. My dad, who studied architecture in school, helped me map everything out and we worked on the poster together for weeks. When I presented my poster, Mr. Hileman gave me such a boost of confidence and appreciated all the minute details of work I had put in. That classroom was all about finding fun in learning. I never stressed about what grade I would receive; I put the work in because I knew it would be in the museum for other students in the future. Now I am studying climate science at the University of Nebraska thanks to encouragement from the great teachers at Monticello Trails, with Mr. Hileman being a dear one. Supporting this museum helps all students find the interesting parts of history for their specific needs and interests, and I will always remember how excited I was to be there! And I will never see The Last Samurai on tv without thinking of that class.

Josue Posted 9 months ago

In 7th and 8th grade Mr. Hileman brought in artifacts that was amazing. When our teacher announced that he was coming everyone gets excited because they know what’s coming up with his teachings.

Jo Lamar Posted 9 months ago

In regards to Keil Hileman, the social studies teacher making application to the life changer of the year award, I give my highest recommendation. I have known Mr. Hileman as an exemplary teacher since he was most appropriately given the Kansas State Teacher of the Year award in 2004. Mr. Hileman traveled the country for a full year after receiving the KTOY award encouraging teachers to stay in the profession and to develop their skills. In addition, he provided professional development to the education majors of our university. After hearing Mr. Hileman’s engaging presentations of his innovative and effective instructional practices the MNU department of education decided that each and every one of our teacher candidates must meet Mr. Hileman and get the chance to watch him teach. For over 15 years, the last professional education course of our program has included a field trip to Mr. HIleman’s Museum Connections classroom! I retired two years ago and the current teacher education professors are still continuing this tradition today! When the teacher candidates of the MNU program visit Mr. Hileman’s classroom museum they not only observe thousands of artifacts but they witness how these artifacts are put into the hands of young people for meaningful lessons of many different eras of history, religions, cultures and nationalities. Mr. Hileman demonstrates how to differentiate the history curriculum with instructional procedures utilizing technology, models, artifacts, archeological digs and emotional connections. His dig desks and his museum of artifacts are valuable teaching tools that must be treasured and preserved for developing global citizens. Mr. Keil Hileman has a teaching reputation in the greater Kansas City area and beyond as an unorthodox, completely devoted and excellent educator. Many of his museum pieces have been donated by community members who are confident that by placing their old washtub or dial telephone in this Museum Connections class, that they will be used for authentic learning experiences. Mr. Hileman is literally using pieces of the past to change his students lives and the lives of the citizens in his community every day. He is an amazing professional educator. Jo Lamar, Ed.D. Professor of Teacher Education

Kerri (Walter) Clock Posted 9 months ago

He was my teacher over 20 years ago and to this day anyone I speak with from USD 232 has fond memories of him. He truly goes above and beyond to enhance each students experience and engages in a way that makes his passion for learning contagious. He deserves more than any award can offer.

Abby Brown Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was one of those teachers you had that makes you want to be a good person and inspires you to look at things with a different light. I am currently studying to be an educator myself and a lot of things we talk about, I have the opportunity to reflect back on previous teachers I’ve had. Despite my area being music, I always think back to how his classrooms made me feel and how he motivated his students. If I can be half the teacher he is, I would consider myself successful, but I will strive to be better than that because he would want me to.

Mary Stuteville Posted 9 months ago

Keil has been amazing me for many years. My family and his have been close friends since before Keil was born so I have watched him grow up. I have many memories shared with Keil. Keil became an Eagle Scout and it was a very proud moment because our son who was also an Eagle Scout was the guest speaker. Another memory is going to his open house in his classroom in the school and being amazed at all the artifacts that he had collected and watching the students come and go and see how they respected and wanted to be doing things with Keil - that is life changing for some students and this is an unusual subject for a school to offer. Students are quick to ask to be in his classroom. Keil reaches out to everyone - always with a smile - he is always ready to help. Keil is a teacher who goes the extra mile to be sure his students are learning and wanting to learn more. Keil loves kids.

Kim Stout Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman taught our son several years ago. His class was a treasure and Ryan always looked forward to his time spent in that space. He sparked an interest in deeper learning at a level that we had not seen before in our son. He brings something to his students that cannot be measured. His "classroom" is unique and exciting. He truly is one of a kind!

Erin Kern Brown Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman made history come to life for his students. It’s been more than 20 years since I was in his classroom and I can still vividly remember the lessons he taught us. Even when his museum was in its beginning stages, he found ways to make learning more interactive and engaging. I still remember spending hours building a medieval castle complete with drawbridge out of sugar cubes and spray paint to be part of the classroom medieval village. I remember our studies of the Middle East and colonial Africa and how he encouraged us to picture what life was like in those times. He made his students feel like equals during a time of their lives where teenagers feel invisible. He made an impact in my life and so many others. Thank you, Mr. Hileman for all that you do!

Morgan Posted 9 months ago

As a young student I wasn’t excited about history and didn’t understand the impact it had on our world today. This completely changed when I entered Mr. Hileman’s classroom. His love for history and his ability to make it come to life grabbed my attention immediately and made me realize that not only was this stuff important, but it was really interesting. He made us dive deeper into the “why” and “how” of every event that had made our world what it is today. Having this deeper understanding gave me a new passion for learning, and now being a college student, has made me want to become a teacher that makes my own students find this passion. Mr. Hileman is a life changer. Both inside of the classroom and outside of the classroom he has made an impact on everyone he has come into contact with.

Madison Bohling Posted 9 months ago

I was placed in Mr. Hileman’s class after moving to Shawnee my 7th grade year. I had no experience in middle school, nor understood what privilege I had to take his course (it was the classes of all classes)! But I walked in on my first day of middle school. Ever. And was so scared, everyone knew him, everyone knew what this room meant. But I knew nothing, I just knew it was history, and I was bad at history. Mr. Hileman is the only teacher in this world that has ever gotten me excited for history. And that’s saying something! I’m 25 years old now, I took his class well over a decade ago, and I still remember sitting in the front row, his booming voice, and almost tripping him on the daily. He truly deserves this nomination and most of all this award. Thank you for making my time at Monticello Trails amazing!

Elise Posted 9 months ago

Not only did Mr. Hileman teach me in his classroom, but I was one of probably 20 students in his classroom on September 11, 2001. One of those "you won't ever forget where you were" moments. Mr. Hileman closed the door, told us to close any and all books we had out, drop all the artifacts and he pulled up a television. We watched some of the news reports because he said this was history being made.

Drake Brizendine Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is a teacher that you find once in a lifetime. His warm presence in the classroom allows his classes, connect to what the material he teaches, sparks points of discussion, and he will make his class one that you look forward to coming back to every time. Mr. Hileman furthered my love for history as a middle schooler and to this day I think of him as a history book with a exciting personality.

Kayla Hamner Posted 9 months ago

There are so many moments from Mr. Hileman’s classes that I will never forget. Every kid that has ever walked through his classroom museum door has been touched by his special way of teaching, connecting, and making everyone feel as though they are enough. He makes learning fun, engaging, interesting, and relevant. He makes the classroom feel like a home for many students. He changes lives and is so passionate about what he does. His personality and sense of humor can cheer anyone up. He’s a big ball of sunshine to everyone that is lucky enough to know him and he works tirelessly to spread sunshine to and through everyone.

Lisa Rockhold Posted 9 months ago

I met Keil when I was a substitute teacher. While woking long term in the SPED department I was in awe of his passion to educate. His museum class was a place where students who didn't feel like they belonged or could keep up could do just that and thrive! And if doing what he does in one classroom isn't enough, he will travel and present the living museum to other classrooms. Students are simply enthralled with what is being presented, the stories that are behind the artifacts, and Keil's sharp wit. Students don't walk out of the room after a presentation silent, but with exuberance and with lasting memories. This man is an inspiration and deserves every single well wish he gets, eventhough he would shy away from the accolades.

Katrina Heinrich Stevenson Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman my 7th grade year for social studies. He had already started to make his classroom into the museum it is today. I loved being able to hold artifacts from the past. Not only was his class very enlightening he had his students be able to participate and interact too. The moment you walked into his room you received a big smile and hello from him. He went out of his way to make each and every one of his students feel special. He is one of those teachers that make learning fun and exciting! He is patient, kind, knowledgeable, understanding, and overall an amazing human being! He is everything you would want as an educator! I was blessed to be able to call him my teacher 20 years ago.

TJ Wichtendahl Posted 9 months ago

I really support Mr. Hileman and his work in the classroom , I know it is a passion for him and he really cares about his students and even people that he meets like us for example. We were not even going to his school and he invited us to enjoy his collection of museum artifacts one day while we were at a local McDonalds. The world is a better place with teachers like him!

Tyler Beyer Posted 9 months ago

As a former student 5 years removed, I can vouch that the impacts of Mr. Hileman's character, attitude and teachings are longstanding and wholesome. Seldom do teachers inspire and help a student learn valuable insight about the world while exemplifying love and understanding, yet somehow Kiel does this everyday. More than a teacher, Mr. Hileman is a role model, a friend and a life changer.

Holly Henderson Posted 9 months ago

The thing I remember most about Mr. Hileman was that walking into his room you felt the uniqueness around you with the artifacts and your eyes would surpass all the things to meet his smile behind the desk, he would clasp his hands and ask what he could do for you. He was open and ready to receive anything anyone had to share, he made every person he came in contact with feel valuable. That these days is extremely rare. Being able to hold items that are in the history book was the neatest experience and made history become real!Each day in his class you would leave feeling inspired and better than the person you where 45 minutes ago. Mr. Hileman is the reflection of what this award stands for. I was so blessed along with my siblings and friends to have experienced his teaching! Thank you Mr. Hileman!!

Theresa Koeckeritz Posted 9 months ago

When I moved into this school district in 2003 I read a newspaper article about a teacher who had turned his classroom into a museum and used artifacts from his classroom to teach history. My oldest daughter was in 1st grade at that time and I was a stay at home mom. My thought was I hope he is still teaching when my children get old enough to have him. In 1997 I accepted the position of school nurse at Monticello Trails Middle School and found out all about the Museum Connections classroom and got to meet Mr. Hileman. I had students who would be upset with me if I had to call them out of his class for medical reasons. My daughter was in 5th grade and still at the elementary. I asked Keil about the trip to Washington DC which at that time was only available to 7th and 8th grade students. He said if we could arrange it he would allow my daughter go as a 6th grade student at that time the future of the trip was in question. My daughter and myself went on the trip the fall of her 6th grade year. Mr. Hileman had arranged for her to be in a group with very accepting students who included her the trips activities. On this field trip I became in awe of Mr. Hileman, the way he interacted with the students, parents and complete strangers. He is extremely knowledgeable, there wasn't a topic he couldn't tell you information on and patiently answered questions from students. This was the year a student in his class made a giant replica of the 1812 flag. Our group opened and took pictures with the flag in front of every major monument in Washington, DC it was an amazing trip. When my son arrived at MTMS he took Mr. Hileman's class. He and I also attended the DC trip. My son also had Keil's archeology class when he was a senior in High School. I am always impressed with Keil and the way he engages students and always has information on every topic. The office is always receiving items sent to him from across the world. He has even had a call from a movie actor who had heard about his classroom museum. He is a great asset to our school, school district and community.

Megan Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has an amazing way of teaching that really encourages people to want to learn and be a part of something that is by no means limited to his classroom. From being determined in middle school to make it in his class all three years, to being able to go to Washington DC with him leading the school trip, to later banding together to "Save Museum Connections" when we felt our favorite elective course was being threatened, he has instilled a desire to learn, a need for experiences, a hunger for more, and the importance of standing up for something you believe in, in a group of people that still carry those lessons from middle school with them today. As a teacher he inspires learning through his artifact packed classroom with it's hands on experiences and involved assignments. I still remember learning about the Ice Man and baking a medieval side dish to share with the class. On the school trip to Washington DC I learned more than I ever could have imagined. To this day when I consider going back to Washington DC, I wish Mr. Hileman could come along and continue to teach me and, the thing is, if I asked he probably would be more than willing. He has a passion for teaching that is unmatched and that passion is felt by his students in the classroom and years after they have graduated, as evidenced by all of these comments from those of us who have been out of his classroom for over a decade. There simply is no more deserving teacher of this award than Mr. Hileman; in fact, it is more likely that the award is not deserving of him as he is clearly not the life changer of just this year but rather the life changer of many students and people each and every year.

Marti Huffman Posted 9 months ago

This guy is amazing! BOTH of my children have come home talking about their classroom discussions and are eager to learn more from this man. What an amazing jewel and MENTOR to have for our middle school kids, to have them EXCITED about learning!! I vote for any educator that can motivate and can encourage learning- not memorize- any of their studies! What a teacher!!

Kris Langton Posted 9 months ago

I have had the privilege to know Keil Hileman on several levels; friend, colleague and presenter/mentor. I have invited him to my school on several occasions as a guest speaker. Keil is extremely knowledgeable about his collection, dedicated not only to its preservation but also making sure its artifacts get into the hands of learners. With his unique ability to immerse kids in learning, Keil is an inspiration to our students, instilling in them a love and value of history, as well as a sense of its importance to our present/future.

Beth Stoneburner Posted 9 months ago

As a parent who was fortunate enough to have 4 of our children make it into his class, I can honestly say through the years that he has brought much knowledge and enthusiasm in and out of the classroom. He makes learning fun and the kids are like sponges in his presence. I had the opportunity one year to accompany him and two of our daughters along with a bus load of students on a Washington DC trip. Again his energy and enthusiasm for teaching draws kids in and really connects them to his passion of history. His "classroom" is a one of a kind museum with all kinds of artifacts that will hopefully last generations. Keep up the great work Keil!!!

Noelle Blair Posted 9 months ago

I had the privilege of taking Mr Hileman’s classes, starting 14 years ago! These classes were HIGHLY sought after amongst students. Mr Hileman had a way of engaging students that I have yet to see in another educator. In his classroom, history came to life! He allowed us to create and experience and delve into the eras we learned about. I have grown up to become a therapist, and in my work with children I have a deeper understanding and appreciation for the way he builds connection with students. His encouragement was, and still is, invaluable. Mr Hileman created an atmosphere in his classroom that placed importance on learning, but also on the student. He sees potential, empowers young people, fosters learning, and emotionally connects with kids. I could go on and on, but I will end with this; I can’t think of a more deserving person. Mr Hileman has impacted my life, my siblings, and countless peers who he’s come into contact with. His passion is unmatched. He is an incredible teacher and a phenomenal human.

Kris Leonard Posted 9 months ago

I first met Mr. Hileman when my oldest daughter had him in 6th grade for Museum Connections. It was the first time she came home excited about something other than math! She loved everything about his class, his teaching style, the historical stories and artifacts, and that he trusted his students with the artifacts. She genuinely enjoyed doing the required research for his class. This started a life-long relationship and family friendship with Keil Hileman. My daughter was blessed to have his class for three years. She was also able to go on a trip to Washington D.C. that was chaperoned, sponsored and lead by Mr. Hileman. He instilled a love of history, government, and knowledge in the students in areas they would otherwise have been unfamiliar with or uninterested in. My younger, twin daughters were also blessed to have Mr. Hileman as a teacher for three years and were able to go on the Washington D.C. trip. All three can still remember facts they learned from him. My friendship began after I attended the D.C. trip as a parent chaperone. I was impressed by his knowledge of everything and the respect his students showed him. The students are so greatly impacted by him and his style that they feel his love and respect and they reciprocate it completely. The students are more engaged in learning in his courses than nearly any other class. My experiences with him, both on the trip and as a highly respected and loved teacher by my children, lead to the start of a wonderful friendship and working relationship. I teach 3rd grade and have the pleasure of having Keil do a yearly presentation about space and the history of earth, to our third graders. He holds the attention of 100 eight & nine year old’s for well over an hour. He trusts them with artifacts and speaks to them on their level and answers their many questions. They love his visit and it is often such a memorable elementary experience that when they get to middle school, they are excited to take his class and tell him how they remember when he came to our school. Keil has touched, impacted, and changed the lives of so many – students and adults. He is the most sincere and genuine person I know. He loves children, learning, and teaching. Nothing about what he does in his classroom is a job to him. It is his passion and it rubs off on everyone who is blessed to have the opportunity to learn from him. I am blessed to call him a colleague and a dear friend. I can’t imagine a more deserving person for this award!

jenna kingsbury Posted 9 months ago

Hi, im Jenna Kingsbury I am one of mr.Hilemans students right now and all I can say right now is I love it, Ive had him the last 2 years as well so I mean I do really like his class he makes it so fun and its not just the artifacts its him as well he makes us laugh all the time I love it, and he lets you do cool things that no one else in like a normal class would do. Mr. Hileman is the best I love him and he has touched so many people I love it. I'm so glad I am Able to be in his class room every morning.

Ashley Copeland Posted 9 months ago

I knew Mr. Hileman for a few years before taking his class, as my sister was his student before me. While I didn’t really understand the hype of “the museum,” before I had him for seventh grade social studies, he always seemed really cool and I was glad to have him as my teacher. I was fortunate enough to have him teach me for over a year, as I went on to take his Museum Connections class in eighth grade. The artifacts are great, but it is really Mr. Hileman and his use of the artifacts that made the impact. He used the artifacts in his museum to give us a very real picture of our history, good and bad. These artifacts represented more than just objects in the past, they represented the people who used them and were affected by them and they gave us a much greater understanding of our world than we could have ever gained from a textbook. Now, us thirty year olds that he blessed seventeen years ago are filled with compassion for humanity and willingness to learn from history to shape our future. In addition to his impact on me as a student, Mr. Hileman has remained a great friend. He attended my sister’s Naval Commissioning ceremony and has really been a lifelong encourager and support for our family.

Marysa Corbin Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was my teacher over 13 years ago and to this day I still talk about his class. I was chatting with a client about his radioactive salt and pepper shakers, just yesterday. He will always be a memorable teacher, he has such a creative way of teaching, that really had me excited for his class. He truly understand what it takes to keep his students engaged, by keeping learning fun. If you have the pleasure of entering his room, ask to see the salt and pepper, I bet he still has it.

Megan Whitworth Posted 9 months ago

I had the privilege of working across the hall from Keil during my very first years of being an educator. He taught me a lot of valuable lessons, however the most effective lesson was to love what you do. I could see the passion that Keil had in his curriculum, and still has, and I could see the benefit that it has on the whole student - beyond just the curriculum. I am grateful for all that I have learned from Keil, and that I continue to learn. It is evident through reading these passages the impact that he has had on so many.

Gretchen Doyle Posted 9 months ago

My daughter and son have both taken Museum Connections. My son is currently in his second year now. They have both throughly enjoyed his class and I am confident the lessons they have learned from him will last a lifetime.

David Young Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for a number of different classes and he made me have a passion for history. The way he teaches is enough to make any kid love and be engaged in social studies. Also from what I remember from his classroom, it is filled with interesting artifacts, pictures, and objects that inspire many thought provoking questions. Mr. Hileman is a master of teaching and his classroom is always full of love for his students.

Alexis Marchand Posted 9 months ago

My name is Alexis Marchand. I am so glad to have had Mr. Hileman as a teacher two years and I am lucky to say that I get him for a third. Mr. Hileman isn't one of those teachers that gives you a textbook and worksheets and tells you to figure it out all on your own. In fact he isn't like any of the teachers that i've had. He makes learning easy and comprehensible. All throughout elementary school and throughout middle school I found anything to do with history or social studies boring. All that changed when I entered Mr. Hileman's class. He lets us watch movies that are related to the lesson, and he lets us touch and see artifacts, no tests, easy homework, comprehensible knowledge. In normal classes the teachers teach a unit and give you a test and then you forget all the information but in his class you don't have tests, you just get to have fun and learn. His class is understandable and the best part is he tells stories i've never been in a class besides his where the teacher actually takes the things you are learning about and turns them into stories. Mr. Hileman has not only made me a better student he has made me a better human, and we need more people like him in schools around the world.

Clarissa Young Posted 9 months ago

I remember reworking my schedule each year just so I could take one of Mr. Hilemans classes. He made learning history fun and interactive. I never liked history classes before taking his classes and that’s where I fell in love with it. I remember getting assignments that made me want to go home and work because I knew it would be interesting and fun. I’ll never forget the project where I was allowed to build a colosseum out of Rice Krispie treats and sour patch kids!! Mr Hileman, there are not enough words to describe the way you change the outlook on learning history. To feel, and see history with our own eyes was truly a gift.

Meghan C Posted 9 months ago

You know when you have that one teacher that changes your life for the better? That's Mr. Hileman. I had Mr. Hileman for the first time in 6th grade for a World Leaders class, we learned about different world leaders and how they have influenced the world, good or bad. I then had him again my senior year of high school for his Archaeology classes. At that time I was really struggling with another class and he did everything possible to help me through. With his help I was able to pass the class. I really liked having him as a teacher because his classroom was a safe space and anything you told him you knew wouldn't leave the room. Everyone felt comfortable in his class and telling him and others in his class things they would never tell anyone else. Our class didn't feel like a class it was more like a family. He made sure everyone was able to have their own opinions and that they felt comfortable stating those opinions in his class. Those classes I took with Mr. Hileman will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Jacob Campbell Posted 9 months ago

I was able to take Mr. Hileman's class several years ago when I was in Middle School (Junior in College now), and it is still one of the most profoundly impacting classes I have ever taken. I've always had a interest in learning history but Mr. Hileman and his Museum Connections courses were able to turn that interest into a real passion. Being able to learn about history while being surrounded by artifacts only helps make the connections to historical events even greater. The greatest opportunity I had though was being able to help move around his classroom one summer when it was to be repainted and repaired. All of the artifacts that were normally shown were moved, but the real treat was getting to hear Mr. Hileman's stories about every other object that had been hidden due to the overabundance of historical artifacts. I learned little bits about every one of them and was able to connect those stories to a point in history. In the end, Mr. Hileman is not just an educator, he is a foster of passion and creativity, an individual who really connects with every individual he has the chance to meet.

Sarah Fulton Posted 9 months ago

There are not sufficient words to describe how having Mr. Hileman as a teacher. I'm now in my second year of a museum studies masters program. Only after my graduate classes began did I gain a full understanding of why Hileman's classes are so impactful. They allow students to touch the real. To experience history in a way many students never have. He takes historical stories out of the textbooks and puts it into the hands of students. The focus is on connections rather than tests. This is the type of education and educators we need.

Michaela Cussen Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman when I was in middle school for Museum Connections. It is still one of the best classes I’ve ever had, even through college. Mr. Hileman has a way of connecting with his students and making them love learning about everything he is teaching. Not only that but he goes above and beyond his call as the Museum Connections teacher. When I was a freshman at KU, I was struggling with Calculus and needed a tutor and Mr. Hileman was kind enough to tutor me and helped me pass the class. There aren’t many teachers like Keil Hileman, he’s most definitely a life changer. I can only hope my son has a teacher like Mr. Hileman and the class he teaches when he grows up.

Adria Craig (Rook) Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. H over about 12 years ago. My sister got to have him got social studies and I wanted him so bad, but they started a new class called museum connections. To this day I still remember what I learned. He made class so fascinating. I already loved history and he made it 10 times better. To give a child hands on experience is mind blowing and he was ahead the game. Once I got to high school the first musical I was in was the sound of music. He donated and let us borrow a real nazi flag for our show to give it the real authenticity, how many time can you say you used real artifacts like that for a production! The work he does to this day is astounding and profound.

Casse Drummond Posted 9 months ago

Keil and I have worked and coached together for many years. Not only is he a great person he is wonderful and unique teacher. His museum class is talked about by his students for years after they have taken it.

Julie and Eric Johnston Posted 9 months ago

Dear Mr. Hileman, I'm writing this for Josh ... I know he'd want to contribute, but is no longer with us. After fulfilling his dream to become a United States Marine, he dreamed of becoming a high school history teacher. He LOVED being in your classroom and it was the high of most every day! He told us many times, that you were the reason he wanted to become a history teacher. You are most deserving of this award!

Kelsey Feigenbaum Posted 9 months ago

I was in Mr. Hileman's class as a 7th Grader at MTMS in 2001...many moons ago. I was new to the school, and trying to fit in in middle school is hard enough! His class always felt like a safe space. He never made it feel like we were working hard to learn what we were learning, which is something magical. Fast forward several years. I myself am now an educator and had the privilege to long term sub at MTMS and work alongside Mr. Hileman several years ago. He is someone I look up to both as a former student and a current educator. My hope is to make my classroom as inviting as he always made his and to make my students feel like I m there for them, no matter what. Mr. Hileman is an OUTSTANDING educator and I am proud to know him.

ACater Posted 9 months ago

Keil loves teaching, loves working with students, and is sincerely passionate about connecting kids with history. He uses his knowledge and collection of artifacts to impact students beyond his classroom by visiting other schools within the district. His ability to make artifacts come to life through storytelling is one reason why students enjoy his teaching. Students love Mr. Hileman and many will always remember spending time in his classroom.

Lauren Wilson Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman’s class was my favorite class I have ever taken! Until his class, I wasn’t really interested in history at all. His class got me engaged and really interested! I loved going to school each day because of his class. He was always so supportive of our dreams and ideas.

Maria Fiscella Posted 9 months ago

My name is Maria Fiscella and I have had the pleasure of not only having Mr. Heilman teach two of my children, but I’ve also had the opportunity to work in his classroom as a colleague. His passion for history and teaching is evident the minute you walk in the room. When he is teaching, students are engaged and excited to learn. He makes history fun and interactive for all students. Mr. Heilman is so deserving of this honor not only for his knowledge of history, passion for teaching, but his continued work at reaching all students no matter what their academic abilities may be. Thank you Mr. H for your knowledge of history, and love of teaching!

Ethan Appleby Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is an excellent teacher and an even better person. His energy and passion for teaching is unparalleled. I tried to take as many classes with him as possible. He has an extraordinary way of reaching people that leaves an everlasting mark and he is still to this day, my favorite teacher. I wish you all the best and I’m so happy that many more kids are getting the chance to experience your teachings!

Roger Bruns Posted 9 months ago

Dear Selection Committee, I am very excited to recommend Keil Hileman for the Life Changer Award. As his fellow staff member at Monticello Trails Middle School, I have the pleasure and honor to teach with him for over 20 years. My time with Keil has allowed me the opportunity to get to know him, his philosophies, his desires and passion for his students, and his great love for reaching and teaching first-hand. Please know this statement of support contains quotes, ideas and feelings from several other current and past MTMS staff. We all believe in Keil. There is no doubt in my mind that he is a true life changing teacher. Since Keil started teaching, he has been known as one of the school’s most inspiring teachers. He has also had the total support and admiration of parents and people in the community. The reasons for this are quite obvious. He has expanded his teaching horizons by sharing his lessons of teaching with artifacts and teaches classes at several colleges in our area. He is involved in the history of his community by retrieving and restoring trophies, which had been thrown aside from the high school, and displaying them in a local museum. During the past seventeen years he has taught a new Social Studies Exploratory Museum Class for grades 6-12, allows @ 600 students to experience his unique teaching methods with student created textbooks, oral exams, student designed unit projects and simulated archeological digs using his self-designed “Dig Tables” each academic year. He has also created and taught a new Archeology Course for both district high schools for the past 11 years. His enthusiasm is never-ending; his creativity is astounding; his compassion for his students is inspiring; his love and passion for his subject area is overwhelming. Using the Classroom Museum’s 20,000 artifacts, He offers the best "hands on" teaching methods we have ever seen. In his lessons he offers the students choices of methods for learning the material, making it possible for them to learn in the style most suited to them. His room is a plethora of historical information, artifacts, and stimulating materials that daily peaks their interest in the topic they are covering. At the end of each unit, he ties it all back to the present day by showing a film that coincides with or accentuates the time period or the facts and concepts the students just covered in the unit. One of the strengths he brings to our school is his unending willingness to teach cross-curricular units. Many curricular materials have been tied together with close planning and communications. Some sample units he helped coordinate are Greek and Roman history with mythology and the history of Representative Democracy, the Industrial Revolution with Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol in regards to worker rights and child labor laws, African studies with African research projects which lead to a school wide fundraiser for a village in Sudan. A memorable unit centered on Martin Luther King Day, African-American literature and Civil Rights using a WWII Nazi flag and a 400-year-old bronze slave collar. These artifacts made this unit more meaningful and “real” for our students. Mr. Hileman’s students truly learn, grow and excel in his Museum Connections and Archeology Classes. He is changing lives every day. Keil's love for what he does is apparent every day as he pours himself into the tasks of finding new and creative artifacts to add to his classroom museum and involves the students in the preservation, discovery and study of these artifacts. He is constantly watching for ways to enrich the areas we are studying by adding field trips and guest speakers from South Africa, China, and a survivor of the Holocaust who are very pertinent, enhancing, interesting and make history come alive for our students. Keil helps our students and faculty appreciate our rights and privileges as American Citizens. I am honored to recommend Keil for the Life Changer of The Year Award, with sincere pride. He is an exemplary model of what an professional educator should be and would be an excellent representative for our building, our district, and our profession. There is simply no way of knowing how many lives he has changed for the better.

Ashley Mantooth Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has undoubtedly shaped the lives of countless students by teaching with passion, understanding his audience, and making education more than being able to recite facts from a text book. I will never forget the feeling of excitement I had when entering his “classroom” each day - it felt as if you were actually walking into history. His ability to connect with his students is something that is invaluable in education. Mr. Hileman continues to be a source of inspiration for many. It is a honor to say that he was my teacher at Monticello Trails Middle School. He surely has changed the lives of anyone who has shared this privilege!

Catie Mellott Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is one of the most impactful teachers I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. 10+ years after having taken his Museum Connections class, the history that he taught to me, and the ways that this history can be felt in current events is still very fresh in my mind. The discussions and hands on approach that he takes to teaching is incredibly effective. He inspired a love of history in my heart, and has done so with many others throughout his time as a teacher.

Kristin Holton (King) Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman in middle school history. His classroom was in the beginning stages of what is now the museum. I remember him taking about what he wanted to transform it into, and I am blown away with the photos that I see. I remember his class being one that I was so excited to attend. Not only did he make learning fun, but he was an amazing role model. When I was in his class, my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Home life was extremely difficult, and I remember him being so compassionate. Looking back on that part of my life, I always think about him and how he would always check to make sure I was doing okay. I can only hope that my own kids have a teacher that leaves such an impact.

Katelyn Shackelford Posted 9 months ago

It’s been 17 years since I was in seventh grade and for the life of me I can’t remember most of the teachers I had growing up... but Mr. Hileman isn’t one of those teachers, he never could be. I was never truly more interested in history than when I was sitting in his classroom. This classroom is where I distinctly have my first memory of learning about history that I remember actually feeling it in my core. I remember trying to scan the room with my eyes as fast as I could before he would start speaking, because there’s so much to see and you knew you’d be so consumed by his words and what he was teaching that day that you couldn’t miss. Imagine being that aware of how important this room was at 12 years old! Mr. Hileman is such a joyful spirit and an incredible teacher who deserves to be recognized for all he has done and continues to do every single day.

Haley Bonebrake Posted 9 months ago

I had MR. Heilman as a teacher almost 13 years ago and I still remember his class! That was always my favorite class to go to and I was excited about learning with him. I never really had an interest in history but he made it so fun. His teaching style is unlike any other I've ever had and honestly I took the most out of it. I went on the class D.C. trip when I was in 8th grade with him and it was a phenomenal experience. It wasn't just a sightseeing trip, I learned so much while we were there. From crying in the holocaust museum to thinking about my grandpa fighting in the war at the memorial. It was an experience I will never forget. He is a teacher who truly gets his students excited to learn! He will always be one of my favorite teachers and I only had him for one semester. He makes a big impact on all of the students who come through his classroom door.

Ryen Posted 9 months ago

I was lucky enough to take museum connections all three years of middle school and with my memory I feel like it was just a couple years ago, that I got to make an entire village to a castle, or learn about and attempt to make a cake from years and years ago, watched countless movies I’ll never forget and I feel this is really where my love of history started. Mr. Hileman truly loves his job, you feel it each and everyday. He Values each student, he values each artifact, he values each story. He deserves this award and so many more. I’d like to think there could be others out there who do too, but I honestly can’t think of anyone else. He has changed the way of learning, he has made it so that at 26 years old... I remember what I learned at age 11-13. That’s honestly remarkable.

Jeff Valoff Posted 9 months ago

Keil is one of those teachers that is doesn't matter if it's before ,during or after school that he will stop and talk to students or parents. Keil is very passionate about his class and students past and present. My son had MR Hileman as a teacher and he loved the class and would talk about it often. He is a positive force.

Elizabeth Gude Posted 9 months ago

I was always so jealous of the kids that took his class. I remember fellow students just lighting up whenever they talked about his room or him as a teacher. He was a BIG deal at MTMS, and I realized over the years he was a big deal in the community as well. A few years after graduating highschool I saw him at Great Clips. My husband was getting his hair cut and I was waiting with our son. I saw Mr.Hileman and couldn’t resist saying hello. We talked about life and he talked about his classroom. I told him how much I wanted to be in his class so many years ago. Before he left he told me I was welcome to come to his class any time during his lunch hour. I just thought it was so kind of him to offer that. You can tell he’s passionate and invested in what he’s doing and that he wants to share it with ANYone who wants part in it. He’s a truly remarkable and captivating person who is deserving of this award. Haven’t taken him up on his offer (having 2 kids makes it hard) but I know that his classroom is open to any and all- and THAT is special.

Jen Reynolds Posted 9 months ago

I knew Keil before I knew him. When I was teaching in Colorado I watched this inspiring interview of a teacher who cultivated his students’ curiosity through amazing stories and hands on learning in his magical museum classroom. I was moved by his emotion toward his career and students. When I moved back to the Kansas City area that same summer, I got a job as a middle school science teacher. Moving in to my classroom, people kept asking “Have you met your neighbor yet? Oh, just wait...” I couldn’t tell if it was good or bad. Then I met Keil. Within seconds I was having a mini celebrity moment. I realized who he was and where I had seen him! He was so humble about it. We became fast friends. As a colleague, he is extremely supportive. He offers materials for my science class to show off or demonstrate. He’s willing to do presentations for whole grade levels with his amazing artifacts collections. His archaeology and history electives are among the most popular at our school. As a friend, he has helped me find my way as a teacher. He is also my children’s’ favorite person to visit when they come to my classroom. I think they might like him more than me! Keil is so kind, he brought boxes of fossils, dinosaur bones, and meteorites to my daughter’s dino birthday party when she turned 7. He held the attention of a room full of young children for nearly an hour with his storytelling. He jokingly says it’s the only time he’s ever been a birthday clown! Keil is truly one of a kind. He cares deeply for everything; his students, his friends, his career, and his empire of archaeology that is the stuff of legend.

Beth Boresow Posted 9 months ago

I have known Keil Hileman and his family for over 10 years. Keil is an amazing individual and I am honored to know him. His ability to positively impact every student he teaches is widely known. Keil doesn’t just serve the students he teaches, he shares his talents with the Girl Scouts as well. For that, we are VERY thankful. Keil has graciously volunteered to conduct archaeological digs for our Girl Scout troops on several occasions. He has run educational programs that he creates during various Girl Scout day camps. For the past two years, Keil has participated in the Girl Scout Father/Daughter Campout. The educational programs he creates and implements are a huge hit with the campers! He dresses in character, plans activities that are interactive and captures the attention of everyone in his vicinity. When Mr. Hileman is presenting, you know you are in for a treat. His magnetic personality and ability to connect with children and adults alike sets him apart from the rest. Mr. Hileman possesses a special gift- and he uses that gift to the fullest!

Dianne Ellenberger Posted 9 months ago

I love.that Keil takes time out of his life to also bring some of the artifacts to our church Bible School for us to see. Kids and adults both seem to enjoy seeing and learning about these interesting museum pieces. Thanks for sharing Keil!!

Jessica Fiscella Heil Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was my 7th grade social studies teacher 22 years ago! Wow! This was during a time when his classroom was in the process of becoming what it is today. Its truly unreal to see how his classroom has changed over the years. I was always eager to learn in his presence-he made me WANT to. I was never a great student, I always got by, but something about his energy and passion made me so excited to simply take my seat every day in his room. I can vividly remember our Lawrence of Arabia lesson and how much I enjoyed that. I’ve had many teachers and professors over the year but I don’t think anyone else compares to how Mr. Hileman influenced me. Everyone I know from our town who knows him all says the same thing-he is great and what he does is incredibly important for children. I am proud to say I have had Mr. Hileman as an educator, it is a true honor to have had him in my life.

Allison Haynes Posted 9 months ago

I had the privilege of meeting Keil while I worked in the kitchen at Monticello Middle school. A co worker of mine took me to Mr. Hilemans classroom to show me all the amazing stuff. I was very impressed. This was approximately 10 years ago. I don't know Keil very well at all. However, I have seen him around in public & he is always so positive, encouraging & puts of an amazing energy. My boys recently graduated from Desoto High School & I wish they would have been able to have Mr. Hileman as their teacher.

Shara Reilly Posted 9 months ago

Keil is the most passionate educator I know. Artifacts and stories from history are the medium he uses to bring nearly any topic to life. I’ve watched Keil captivate audiences of varying size and age. He has taken the time to share with my elementary students numerous times and presents annually at our school wide Veterans Day assembly. I also know Keil to be an avid supporter of the teaching profession. Through his involvement in the KTOY program, he has shared his unique classroom and passion for teaching with many educators across the state. Without a doubt, Keil is a life changer and I know he will continue touching and changing lives.

Shanna Christopher Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman, a name that still brings smiles and excited stories from my kids. They are now 23 and 25. Being a part of his class is a childhood memory they will be telling their kids. Students are made to feel special, important and that they matter; because each and every one of them do to Keil. I could go on and on about the impact Mr Hileman has had on my kids and I. Words cannot express the gratitude and love we have for this incredible man. He’s truly an inspiration.

Beth Luder Posted 9 months ago

Best class I’ve ever taken to this day! A teacher who truly cares about how kids want to learn and allows us to have fun while we learn. He cares and remembers each of his students and I appreciate him for that.

Cindy Cline Posted 9 months ago

After the first week of Mr. Hileman's class, my son made me promise not to take him out of school for vacations, doctor appointments, sick days etc. He didn't want to miss a single day. He absolutely loved Mr. Hileman's museum connections class.

Ashton Ward Posted 9 months ago

I can remember my first day in Mr. Hilemans class and HOLY ADHD! The first teacher I could relate to on so many levels in just one class!! I remember him being so blunt and honest, so excited to take on the journey of teaching us so many things like it was his first time! I listened, I mean I ACTUALLY listened! The things he talked about, taught about, and lived about were so amazing! He showed his students the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some things seemed way beyond our heads and he would show us the truth behind history that we’ve been mislead from. I learned so much as a student and a friend. He had an open door for anything you could ever need for anyone no matter who you were. He’s a family man you see with his daughters in a parade, a man you see taking students to learn astonishing things in DC, and a teacher who creates the best environment in the classroom. He fought for amazing tools to be able to tell his stories and he sure has plenty to teach! There is no one more deserving than Keil!

Jill Norman Posted 9 months ago

I have known Mr. Hileman for the last 25 years. I had the privilege of having him as my junior high American History teacher in the 8th grade, before the museum even got started; back then it was just a dream. Fast forward 12 or so years, and I once again had the privilege to work with Keil as a colleague teaching at Monticello Trails. I taught Special Education and the students with whom I worked enjoyed taking his Museum Connections class. Mr. Hileman went above and beyond to help students and to offer a system of rewards for those who maybe needed a little something extra to motivate them to do well in school. He is appreciated and his work does not go unnoticed. Any student who steps in to the museum for class is sure to be enlightened by Keil’s spirit and his love of history.

Kaitlyn Posted 9 months ago

This comment box is not big enough to explain how much Mr. Hileman has done for his students and his school. He teaches in a way that allows for our own imagination and ideas to run and explore our history in the most exciting ways. He is a very hands-on teacher that allows his students to use the useful tools he provides to help us and allow us to learn in a unique environment. I still to this day, as a graduate student in college, use the ideas he taught me in my life because even though his job was to teach us history, he also taught us life lessons that we could carry on and share with everyone else. I wish everyone could be given the chance to have a class with Mr. Hileman because they would have the best experience learning and thriving as a student, plus you can’t miss his amazing room full of projects and artifacts!

Lisa Posted 9 months ago

I have observed Mr. Hileman at church working with middle school Sunday School, volunteering time teaching Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts on his weekends, and out in our community. He engages kids of all ages in education in such a wonderful and unique way that I hope you had or will have the experience of observing for yourself. I was so moved by my observations that I hosted donation-benefit luncheon in his honor to help further his desires to educate the youth in our community.

William keungkhamphong Posted 9 months ago

Be Engaging, enthusiastic and kind-hearted. these are some of the things I've learned from this class. After so many years of learning the same way, it was a chore. Museum connections was the first class that I have ever taken that broke this standard. It showed me that teaching can be done in many ways. Engaging in our interests was a stroke of genius. Now that I'm older and I've been to college and I have a job this lesson is more important than I could ever realize. Even when we are adults we don't learn anything that we don't want to or that we are not interested in. the only way I learned to tech someone something, is to bring interest and familiarity to the subject. I still to this day I'm so grateful that I have taken the museum connections and that I was fortunate enough to go to school that had this class.

Ryan Ballard Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman in class twice in middle school as well as a class in high school. His classes were always the highlight of my day and he is easily the most easy to talk to teacher I’ve ever had.

Pindi Ballagan Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman teaches you to view history with a different lens. To be analytical and curious. To strive for more knowledge and understanding of the past so we can make sense of the now. He makes history more tangible and real for his students so they aren't just limited to reading words out of a textbook. He is a teacher full of passion and knowledge, and only strives to pass it onto the next generation. Thank you for your service, Mr. Hileman!

Holly Sprague Posted 9 months ago

One of the most memorable teachers. His museum and his teaching style are truly something special.

Jerome Boresow Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is an amazing individual. I have known Keil and his family for over a decade. I coached several of his girls over the years and have got to know him very well. As a teacher, he brings teaching to a new level. His classroom is tool in which kids want to be there and learn. He is an impact to all that he meets. As a parent, I want my kids to have experiences and opportunities that make them better individuals. For about the last twenty five years, Keil has a led a trip to Washington D.C. Knowing his passion for teaching and his knowledge, my wife and I wanted our son to take advantage of this remarkable experience. Alex, a Freshman at De Soto, and all the kids that went this past Labor Day, had an unbelievable experience that will last them a lifetime. Knowing Mr. Keil Hileman has been an honor. His positive impact on children, parents, and teachers is truly mind-blowing.

Jennifer Rens Wise Posted 9 months ago

Both of my daughters had Museum Connections and would come home every talking about that class!

Vernon Saunders Posted 9 months ago

I wholeheartedly endorse the insightful, impassioned and thoroughly documented narrative about Mr Hileman. This brilliantly articulated mosaic about this extraordinary man defines him with precise detail. It captures and exposes the core principles that are the guiding stars in his expansive universe as a man, a person among persons, an educator, a community member and renaissance man of the world. This narrative precisely and accurately reveals the personal qualities that make Mr Hileman a unique and premminently successful educator, moulder of young minds, motivator in the pursuit of excellence and friend who knows, understands and is unfailingly there in support of his students. Mr Hileman is all that this narrative proclaims. He is extraordinarily worthy of support in this venture.

Gerri Balthazor Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is a wonderful educator! I have had the privilege of knowing Keil for the last ten years. During this time, I have seen him go above and beyond for his students and colleagues. His museum connections class engages students in history and allows them the opportunity to truly connect with the past. He is always willing to help out in any situation and his willingness to share his wealth of knowledge is of benefit to all he encounters. For the past three years, he has presented during our Veteran's Day assemblies sharing history and artifacts to K-5 students. He never hesitates to share his passion and love for history by coming to our school. Each year, we look forward to the new bits of history he will share with us! His presentations are always educational and engaging for all! Keil is truly an influential educator!

K walker Posted 9 months ago

I have known Keil for several years as a family friend and as a Sunday School teacher at our church! Whatever he undertakes he is totally dedicated! I have watched him as he engages his students and makes his subject interesting and fun. He is a natural in his field and loves what he does and cares deeply for his students!

Curt Gausman Posted 9 months ago

When I first learned that Keil had been nominated for LifeChanger Of Then Year, it came as no surprise. As a Licensed Guide in Washington DC, It has been my sincere pleasure to have worked with Keil on his annual Washington DC student trip for more than 15 years. His enthusiasm and passion is so infectious, that his students naturally grasp his virtual approach to education. Keil’s effect on his students is evident when I witness first hand his students unparalleled quest to learn. I am always amazed at his ability to use many of the smallest overlooked details in our history and turn it into a valuable lesson for his students. Keil does not teach for a living, he lives to teach. And teach he does, 24/7. I have seen on many occasions where complete strangers off the street gravitate to Keil to learn more about a site his group is visiting on tour in Washington DC. When my own daughter was in the eight grade, I chose to bring her along on Keil’s annual trip to DC. She now knows what I have known for years, Keil Hileman is with out a doubt a LifeChanger!

Jacob Tharp Posted 9 months ago

Fantastic teacher and amazing person. Keil Hileman was a teacher of mine in middle school and high school and someone I got to work with on many different projects throughout those years which made him a very influential person in my life. His work in the school district is priceless and as an individual he is a pillar in the community. I'll never forget the time spent in his classes or his passion for teaching and helping young people grow.

Dave Anderson Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is one of the best teachers that I have had the pleasure of working with. The Museum Connections class he teaches is a very unique and awesome class that all of our students enjoy. During this course his students will design and create their own history textbook, study museum artifacts, watch videos, participate in archeological digs, and create a final project that they will share with the class. It is a hands on history class that is an extension to what the students are learning in the regular history class. Mr. Hileman is a great teacher who truly cares for all of his students. He also tutors and is a mentor to many students before and after school. Mr.Hileman always puts his students needs above his for sure. We are very fortunate to have a teacher like Mr. Hileman here at Monticello Trails Middle School. A fantastic role model to all of us!

Jill Gonzalez-Bravo Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has had a far reaching impact on not only student lives but the field of education. He has a strong commitment to supporting future teachers. He meets with MidAmerica Nazarene University candidates each semester, invites them into his classroom, and shares his vast collection of resources.

Lauren O'Neal Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for one semester and it was one of the best classes I have ever taken. Most history classes, you sit and listen to a teacher lecture and show slide shows and you maybe get to play Kahoot but for Mr. Hileman's, you get to see the things in history that you've talked about. In this class I made many friends and memories with Hileman that I will remember for the rest of my life. We took field trips to museums and got to learn about these incredible artifacts in history. I believe that he is a life changer because his class truly changes you. He always makes sure his students are having a good time in his class and outside of his class.

Madelynn Hodes Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman dedicates so much of his time to creating an environment where learning is excited and knowledge is celebrated. His classroom is legendary and it is by far the most special place in the school. His enthusiasm for teaching is unmatched by any teacher I have ever met, and he deserves recognition for his outstanding dedication. He opens up an entire field of study to his students, and this reward would ensure that he can continue to reach students for many years to come. Mr. Hileman's passion is never-ending and inspires every student who steps foot into his classroom.

Margaret Bates Posted 9 months ago

I spent some time in this extrardinary man's classroom diring a program presented to a group in which I am a member. I time warped to my own youth, envying the students who had such a passionate and reachable teacher. I never esperienced it. It's truly movie quality stuff going on in Keil's classroom. Entertaining, engaging, dynamic! His students will N.E.V.E.R. forget him and their learning experience.

Caroline Friday Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was one of my favorite and most memorable teachers from middle school! I am so lucky to have been in his class. I am now a teacher myself and he is the type of teacher I strive to be. He is such a wonderful teacher and person. He is creating such a wonderful legacy and it is fantastic to see all of the lives he has touched over his teaching career! Thank you Mr. Hileman

Sheryl Appleby Posted 9 months ago

You are a fantastic teacher. Your enthusiasm you have for teaching is exhilarating. As a parent I remember hearing about you and your Museum Connection class long before my children could have you as a teacher. We would hear about the amazing room with all the artifacts and about the students that were doing archaeological digs in class and it made my children so excited for middle school and to be able to take your class. When my children were finally able to have you as a teacher I had the joy of hearing about all the exciting things they had learned about in your Museum Connection class that day and the funny facts you had shared with them. Even after many years my adult children still refer to your humor, what they had seen and learned about in your classroom as one of their favorite memories of their middle school years. Years later I have had the privilege to actually watch you in action as a teacher myself. I have been able to sit in on several classes as a fellow staff member. I was amazed by the artifacts that you had, the background information you gave about each item and then throwing in your humor to make the experience for these kids “life changing.” I now am the one sharing with my adult children about the experiences I have had being in your classroom. I have personally enjoyed your knowledge, your love for what you’re doing and truly believe that you are one of the best teacher that I have ever had the opportunity to observe. I wish you the very best. You deserve this award so much!

Kirk Rush Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman embodies what an educator should be. He is entertaining, thought provoking and captures your attention. I wish I had had more teachers like him back when I was in school!

Waylon Schenk Posted 9 months ago

I have been fascinated Keil since 3rd grade when he came to my elementary and talked about a ton of artifacts and gave them to the school. I am in 8th grade now. He is a different type of teacher than most he has his own way of teaching that makes you want to come back every day and you learn but you don't even know you are learning because you are having so much fun. He has a different motivation than most teachers to teach. With all of his injuries, you think he would just sit down and give up and yet he works every day to make his museum new and fun for children. Also, he helps children every day he tutors after school and he helped me with my documentary for a school project. Overall he is just a wonderful and great guy and has impacted my life.

Mona Hartzler Posted 9 months ago

When the Daughters of the American Revolution honored Keil as the chapter and then state Outstanding American History teacher, I began to learn of his classroom museum and archaeological "dig tables." When he presented a program at the state meeting, I understood why he was so outstanding, and was not surprised when he was chosen the National DAR winner among all of the state winners. I wish I had had a history teacher like Keil. I would have liked history sooner in my life if that had been the case. Keil teaches with creativity, bringing history alive for his classes.and providing an environment where students feel valued. I can't imagine the total number of lives he has positively impacted through his years of teaching, but it would be in the thousands by now. Imparting knowledge is one thing, but to do it in the way Keil does, including the students in the process and building their self confidence is truly priceless. I hope he is chosen for this honor of Life Changer of the Year because he certainly deserves it.

Skye Anson Posted 9 months ago

When I first met Keil Hileman, I was probably around the age of 10 or 11. I joined his daughter, Zuzu's, soccer team, blue thunder. It was my first connection with kids my age around Shawnee, besides the kids who were in my class. Slowly over the months and then years, I became closer with Mr. Hilman, he would always talk to me and cheer me on at soccer games. Then I got to the time of my middle school years, and I ended up in his museum connections class. I was just that very shy girl sitting, talking to no one. He always made me feel welcome when I walked into his classroom and he helped me work out problems and things I did not understand. Then years went by and the soccer team split up and I was out of his class and out of his school. I then started high school, which ended up being the worst years of my life. I never had time or energy to go and talk to Mr. Hileman. I went through deep depression, suicide attempts, and self-harm. I would keep wishing I would find another teacher like him, but that never happened... I soon realized there is one and only Mr. Hileman, no one else could teach like him or have such a strong impact on students' lives. If I were, to be honest, while I was in a mental hospital for a while and talking about my problems and what made me happy, I kept thinking about Mr. Hileman, but no one there would understand or know who he is. So I always had to come up with other things that "made me happy". When you go through such a rough and bad time of your life, it is hard to open up to others and to adults. Well, my junior year came and I started fresh at a new school. It was at first going very well, and then I started experiencing really bad drama. I would walk into his archeology class upset, he would notice and check on me. For some reason I was able to open up to him, it just felt as though he would understand and could help me with my issues. Within just these past few months, I have told Mr. Hileman more than I have told my therapist and psychologist combined. He has truly changed my life at such a young age, from when I first moved here to now. I will never forget Mr. Hileman, no matter what. He has truly been a life changer to me and it will never change. One last thing, whenever I hear the song the climb, I always think of him and how he helped my come over my mountains. Keil Hileman is truly a life-changer.

Ruth Waggoner Posted 9 months ago

I am a professor at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and each semester I take a group of pre-service teachers to visit Mr. Hileman's class. They always come away amazed and inspired. Keil is energetic, charismatic, and passionate about teaching. We visit his class because I want my students to see a stellar teacher in action. I want them to see how students respond. I want them to see the excitement in his classroom. I want them to understand what a difference a passionate teacher makes in the lives of the students in that classroom. Keil is a one-of-kind teacher, and it takes work and dedication. Students who come in contact with Keil are fortunate indeed.

Dawn McInnis Posted 9 months ago

For 15 years Keil Hileman and his students have chosen to visit the Clendening History of Medicine Library & Museum for their field trip. Hileman doesn’t limit his teaching to the classroom – it’s evident in his every action. He imparts knowledge in a personal manner that encourages critical thinking through observation, reflection, questioning, discussion, and more questioning. His students arrive boisterous, talkative, and active. By the time Hileman has introduced us and reminded the students what they’ll be seeing, the students are eager to see, learn, question, and relate to the materials. They’re calm and ready to participate. At the end of every visit Hileman asks the students, “Did you see something that really interested you today? Are you going to tell someone about it?” Hileman never forgets to remind students to show their appreciation, i.e., thanking us, for our time, knowledge, and our rare collection. Keil Hileman is not only teaching about history, museums, archeology, and social studies, he is teaching life skills, and giving students the gift of appreciating and showing appreciation. He is truly a life changer for everyone he meets.

Sabrina Wellman Posted 9 months ago

It is my privilege to know Keil Hileman and call him “friend.” Keil serves as the Sunday school teacher for my daughter’s middle school & high school class at De Soto United Methodist Church where I serve as the Children, Youth, & Family Ministry Coordinator. I give thanks for his leadership with the students and his amazing ability to build relationship with them and to encourage the students to build relationship with each other. Students are excited for Sunday mornings and his unique ability to connect their faith and life. Whatever is going on in our students’ lives, Keil is always ready to listen to their joys and concerns. He celebrates their successes and walks with them through their challenges. I know my daughter looks forward to sharing her week with him each Sunday morning: ups and downs. Keil’s own life experiences have informed his strong faith. He is a person of high moral character and integrity. Our congregation is grateful that in addition to teaching Sunday school, he serves as a Confirmation mentor, Youth Group supporter, and Christmas program helper. Plus, he shares artifacts at our Vacation Bible School Family Night where he engages people of all ages in learning something new. Through his genuine curiosity, infectious positivity, and authentic concern for all those in his circle of care: children, teens, and adults – Keil is truly a good human being who is definitely a LifeChanger making the world a better place.

James Ball Posted 9 months ago

I've known Keil since 6th grade, however I've had the honor of working with him since the spring of 2018. Since then, I have helped with various things with the museum whether it's cleaning out barns, cleaning artifacts, or just carrying boxes. Most notably However, I was a part of the 2019 Museum Rebuild team. Working with him, along with my fellow peers was a fantastic experience and allowed Keil to truly express himself. Keil worked harder than all of us on the Museum rebuild, he was there every day at 5:00 am all summer. It didn't matter how hard the task was, he was always hard at work, drinking coke and keeping a steady pace of work. However working with Keil doesn't feel liek work. Our work days were filled with conversations, from Star Wars, to Roman shields, to our own lives. In every conversation Keil always made an effort to connect with us and help us with anything we needed. Additionally he always did his best to share life lessons or just lessons in general. Keil is in pursuit of spreading knowledge and making connections above anything else. Though he cares for his museum and artifacts, he was rebuilding the museum for his students. Keil constantly goes above and beyond to provide a truly unique and effective style of teaching to reach all students. He is constantly striving to make connections with students and get them excited to learn and enjoy school. He's always there to help those around him with any problem, no matter how big or small. He teaches history in such a way that he provides new perspectives on the modern world. As he likes to say "it's HIS story, it's HER story, it's THEIR story." He's truly an incredible guy and I am forever grateful that I can call him my friend and mentor. His passion of teaching has rubbed off on me and inspired me to obtain a Secondary Education Degree in social studies. Thank you Keil for everything you've done, and thank you for being a life changer.

Troy Schenk Posted 9 months ago

Keil is an amazing teacher and an amazing all around human. He has a passion for teaching and learning and his passion rubs off on the kids who cross his path. Not sure I have ever encountered an educator who is so passionate about what he does and cares so deeply for the kids in his school. He has a unique ability to light a fire for the kids in his classroom. He does not just teach from a textbook. He challenges his students to look behind the pages of a textbook, question and wonder why and form their own opinions about the world they are a part of, past and present. On a more personal note I have had the privilege of Keil helping to mentor both of my sons. He has taken my sons under his wing and given them great opportunities to grow their leadership abilities by helping teach his summer archaeology classes at our local community college. He has been a great influence in their lives and I think Keil's mentorship of them has been a great ingredient in helping both be excellent students and good people. If you have not seen it, you should check out the piece that NBC Left Field (https://www.nbcnews.com/leftfield/video/the-kansas-teacher-who-buries-treasure-in-every-desk-1168184899758) did on Keil and you will start to see the true depth of why is is definitely a LifeChanger.

Charlotte whim Posted 9 months ago

I have known Kyle and family for years, and he comes from a family who has all the love and compassion that he shares with his students.

Bob & Shirley Hemenway Posted 9 months ago

To Whom It may Concern, We met Mr. Keil Hileman many years ago. He taught two of our grandsons in his museum program. When we found out that he had created a September 11th time capsule, we knew we had to meet him. We have toured his museum several times and eaten lunch with him. That is when we told him about her son. Our son Ronald Hemenway was killed in the pentagon on 9-11. His body was never found. We have a headstone for him in Arlington Cemetery. Mr. Hileman takes a student group to Washington DC every year. His students always lay a wreath for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We wanted our grandsons to go on this trip. When Mr. Hileman found out that we could not afford the trip, he worked to seek out scholarships for them. He Succeeded and they both went on the trip. They still talk about it today. This is when we realize how truly amazing Mr. Hileman really is. He offered to lay a wreath on our son's headstone each year. Mr. Hileman and his students have layed a wreath at our sons Headstone for eighteen years. Mr. HIleman has his students find two medium sized rocks near our son's headstone. He then uses permanent marker to write the date and year on each stone. one goes into his museum. The other comes to our home. He even paints them with a clear coat to make sure the writing lasts. In 2011 when the world was remembering the 10th anniversary of 9-11, Mr. Hileman asked us to come to the school and talk with students about the museum's 9-11 time capsule. The news and papers also came and took pictures and shared our story. Mr. Hileman is not a normal teacher or person. His heart is beyond compare. His sense of duty is unending. He literally connects people from many generations to celebrate what is best of America. He is teaching his students every day to appreciate what they have and learn as much as they can to make our world a better place. He teaches them that freedom is NOT free. Mr. Hileman is a Life Changer. In some of the darkest days or our lives, he reminded us about good people who care. He showed us that our sons death had meaning. He made sure that our son Ronald is remembered and honored each year on his trip. He has changed our lives for the better. He changed two of our grandson's lives. Without a doubt, He is a Life Changer. We have never met anyone with as much passion for life. We are so very glad we met him and that he is a part of our lives. He is a true life changer.

Abigail Powell Posted 9 months ago

I met Mr. Hileman when I was a senior. I went to DeSoto High School. I had had a terrible summer relationship before my senior year. It was honestly a very toxic and self destructive relationship. Only three days into class with Mr. Hileman he could see there was something wrong. He asked and I broke down after class. He Talked with me and supported me for over 2 hours. From that point on we had a bond and I knew he would always be there to help me. i got to take archaeology all year because i liked it so much . i got the opportunity to help rebuild the museum all summer which i did then i started working so I helped when i could. I honestly believe the museum is important to students and the school. I think what Mr. Hileman does as a teacher does not just change lives.. but often saves them. Every time I talk with him he helps me make see things more clearly. He has helped me make better decisions many times. i got the chance to go on the washington dc trip so i did because i knew i would never get that opportunity again. Mr. Hileman pulled some strings to make it possible for me to go. He helped me get several discounts. Mr. Hileman asked me and another boy to come help a friend of his named Ginny. Hileman told us she was older and needed help with her barn sale. I came and instantly made a huge connection with Ginny. I am now her "adopted" granddaughter. It was a truly amazing experience simply helping other people. Mr. Hileman is a life changer. There is no doubt. He changed my life for the better. He was my teacher, I am proud to call him friend.

Darin Worthington Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is a great teacher and his classroom encompasses everyone he encounters. I grew up with Keil and can say selfishly that I am envious of all the current and former students that got to take his class and learn from him every day. When thinking of Keil I am struck by all the stories, compassionate empathy and humor that flood into my memories and I am so happy that this good man is working to guide and educate the young people of our community.

Frøydis Brazukas Posted 9 months ago

I do not know Keil as a teacher, but as a neighbor who has reached out and helped my granddaughter when she visit. My granddaughter “Zoe” who currently resides in Norway is a 12th grader and on many visits he has taken her under his wings. One year brought her with him to JCCC when he was teaching there during summer breaks. He introduced her to history and archeology that she does not receive in Norway. Because of him she wants to spend more time here with us and that I am so grateful for. She wanted to quit music because she did not like the conductor, but he encouraged her and turned her mind around and she decided to stick with it. He is definitely his mothers son whom I also held in high regard.

Mark Shields Posted 9 months ago

I first met Keil when my oldest child was in 5th grade. We had heard about him for years from other parents and he was a larger-than-life teacher with a passion for educating in new and different ways. The parents all told us that our kids have to enroll in his Museum Connections course. It is a don't miss class! Our oldest child, Alexander, was interested in social studies and so we encouraged him to sign up for the class. Alexander is a transgender student who struggled with his gender identity for years before he finally came out. As a 6th grader, he was not confident in himself, but Keil was able to reach him in a way that no other teacher had. Thanks to Keil, Alexander had someone who championed him both inside and outside the school. He is one of the people I credit with saving Alexander from himself and others who want to label him, judge him and bully him at school and in life. Keil also tutored Alexander in math and helped him improve his grade and understanding of something that he struggles to learn. Keil always goes the extra mile and his students love him for it. Alexander is still a regular visitor to Keil's classroom even though he is now in high school. He is excited to take the high school level classes taught by Keil when he is eligible. I cannot say enough good things about what Keil does for his school and his community. He makes a difference every day and is a true Life Changer!

Julianne Long Posted 9 months ago

I’ve never had a teacher quite like Kiel. In middle school, teachers aren’t something you connect with on a personal level. They’re here because it’s their job and they’re getting paid to do it, however little. But Kiel is different, and not only because he has a room full of medival armor, ancient artifacts, digging tables, bowls that make weird noises, Link action figures, cardboard sarcophagi and Shrek riding a dragon. Everyone feels like they’re friends with him. There’s no stress at all in his classroom; there’s no room with all the fascination. No matter how jaded, how negative, how antisocial of a thirteen-year-old you are, Kiel will change your life. He sure changed mine.

Jadon Taylor Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is a creative, fun loving, enthusiastic educator who loves his job. His passion and dedication rubs off on each of his students, making his classroom a fun, unique and exciting environment. He was one of my middle school teachers, and is currently my senior archeology class. He has helped me come out of my shell and learn to express my thoughts and opinions in class. His overwhelming positivity brightens even my darkest days. Keil Hileman is an outstanding teacher and a wonderful human being, and he deserves to win this award.

Mary Alley Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is an excellent teacher. He challenges his students, encourages his students, tutors his students, and shares his passion for history with his students. His investment in his students along with his passion for his subject makes Keil such a successful and admired teacher. His classes fill up so quickly even though they are not easy classes. He makes history come alive to the students. I have now had 3 grandchildren who have had the privilege of taking a class from him. They have all shared how Mr. Hileman has made history so interesting. They love the way he makes it come alive instead of just having them read a book. His museum allows students to see and handle items that help tell stories. Questions are raised and research is done, even on their own. I am a retired high school science teacher. I listen to my grandchildren and their friends talk about what they love about Mr. Hileman's class, how excited they are to go to that class, what they are learning in the class and, what they want to know more about. From a former teacher's perspective I wish we had many more Keil Hilemans. He makes students want to learn. A great number of people when asked ," who had the most influence in your life?" have answered a teacher. Keil is definitely one of those teachers. DeSoto is very fortunate! Keil puts in so much extra time and effort to make this style of learning( hands on) possible. He is a life-changer !

Julia Coverdale Posted 9 months ago

I have known Keil Hileman since I took one of his summer classes at Johnson County Community College in 7th grade, and he has been one of the most important and influential people in my life. As a freshman in college studying to be an archaeologist, I would not be where I am today without his classes and guidance. He supported and has helped me grow my love for archaeology, and I would not be studying archaeology if I had not taken his inspiring classes in middle school and high school. His care for the students in his classes is something that is so rare in teachers, and his passion for his job and the students is so inspiring. He has continuously supported me in everything I do and has always given me advice about problems in my life, like helping me figure out how to get enough money to go to archaeological field school. One of the most important ways he has supported me has been by supporting my sexuality when other adults in my life have not. When I was not able to talk about the girls I was dating to my parents, Mr. Hileman was there to give me advice and care in the place of my homophobic parents. He is always there for his students even in their hour of need, and in everything he does his care for his students is evident. He never stops teaching or making sure his museum is ready for the school year, and his dedication and passion is one of the most inspiring things about him. I would not have chosen to study archaeology without seeing him care so much about doing something his is passionate about and cares about. His classes inspire kids to care about history, and getting such hands on experience with artifacts is something so unique and special that his students get to do. He never stops teaching either, even in the face of extreme hardships. During my Sophomore year of high school, he twisted his knee out of place. While he did not know it at the time, he taught an entire month of classes at JCCC while walking on a broken leg. He continued to teach an entire semester of classes before finding out that the knee replacement would have to wait since the injury was worse than the doctors thought. Even through a broken leg and an injured knee, Keil Hileman will not stop teaching and inspiring kids like he does every year. I could never imagine growing up without taking his classes and working with him over many summers, and his passion and care for everything he does inspires so many students. So many kids' life would not be the same without his amazing classes.

Molly Black Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is as effective as he is eccentric. After spending four history-mining, adventure-packed days in Washington DC with him on our son’s school trip, I can now say I have met the real Willy Wonka. We parents watched, our jaws on the sidewalk, while Mr. Hileman herded our middle schoolers around DC on learning escapades. These gigglers and too-cool-for-schoolers with their not-so-well-hidden insecurities kept their eyes up, waiting for Mr. Hileman’s next mini history lesson as we approached the next destination on our trip. He had them in listening trance after listening trance. He could not only captivate these teenagers, but their parents as well. He made American history succinct and digestible, packaged in so much humor and fun that we felt like we were sitting around a campfire with him every time we got back on the bus. The historical and cultural knowledge he gifted us surpasses any Everlasting Gobstopper. This was just what we witnessed in the four days with him! As you can read in the other comments, his has been a decades-long, passionate career that has touched thousands of lives. I only wish that more than just our district’s kids could win his golden ticket. I have never seen so many middle and high schoolers get genuinely interested in their studies than when I have seen Mr. Hileman’s museum classrooms. EVERY CHILD, EVERY CHILD’s parent should get to experience this. Since that is obviously impossible, my hope is that his teaching style with his 80,000 artifact-packed museum can be used as a template for future teachers’ classrooms. That his quirky vast command of history and his 80,000 stories can inspire other learners and future teachers. The ONLY way to do this is to get enough financial support to keep his museum alive. When we moved to this district, we had no idea what opportunity we were to inherit—not just golden tickets, but keys to the entire world of exciting history though the sparkling stories of Mr. Hileman/Wonka. This kind of magic needs to be shared! His teaching style needs the financial “oomph” to carbon copy it and to be able to continue enrapturing our oompaloompas. It would be a tragedy of missed opportunity if we cannot find a way to continue his legacy.

Mindy Boor Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has been my son’s favorite teacher two years in a row. As an Eagle Scout, he was happy to host our Cub Scout pack in his museum classroom for a hands on presentation. The kids absolutely loved it and can’t wait to make it a yearly activity. His passion for his work is contagious and he can keep an audience of any age mesmerized easily. We are blessed to have him in our community!

Madison Cline Posted 9 months ago

Good Afternoon Rowdy’s! These three words sparked immense excitement throughout the classroom. 8th grade is not the highlight of anyone’s life, but Mr. Hileman made it memorable and special with the “Museum.” You could not forget that classroom even if you tried. Walking in, every inch of the classroom is covered head to toe with unique artifacts. Every second of every day we spent learning about them, and I think I made it through maybe 15% of the artifacts if I was lucky. For most people who have the opportunity to take this class, it is the first time learning felt fun. He did not have a cut and dry lesson plan that he followed straight through. He took our input and made the lesson of the day revolve around where our minds wandered. This class is adored so much, that they offer a more in-depth version for high school seniors. It was nostalgic to go back to the classroom that first piqued my interest in learning. I could not think of a better way to say goodbye to my childhood. Mr. Hileman cares about his kids. He gets involved and means it when he says on your first day that you will never know what people are going through. He goes on to explain that as an educator, they can at times be oblivious to what is happening in their students' lives. Unfortunate events occur in children’s lives including divorce, death, relocation, and bullying. He makes it his job to let his students know that if no one else is there for you, he will be. By this he means for his students to not be afraid of reaching out to him for anything. He reminds us all that for some kids, school is their safe place and he wants this to be reflected in his classroom. Regarding my personal experience, Mr. Hileman has gone above and beyond as an educator and will now and forever be a dear friend. I graduated in 2016, but shortly after my family endured plenty of heartache. My brothers were still at that school, and I had asked him to keep an eye on them for me while I was off at University. He kept me in the loop about how they were doing, and this lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders. This may seem above and beyond, but this is just who he is. Mr. Hileman's class will always hold a special place in my heart and the least I could do is nominate him for this award. I believe the funding would benefit the museum and help him continue to inspire and excite children about learning.

Amber Guilfoil Posted 9 months ago

I have taken his class 4 separate times; 6th, 7th, 11th, and 12th grade. His classroom is the only one that I have ever been in that has made me comfortable enough to be myself in. I can wholeheartedly say that I will miss him and his class the most when I go to college. He presents his class in a way that makes it seem like he is just talking, telling stories, and relaxing, but I guarantee that I learn more in his class than I have in any other singular class I have taken. Hileman and I got on to a conversation of our love for swords and I mentioned that I had asked for a samurai sword for my birthday but wasn't going to get one because my parents never believed me that I loved the artifacts as much as I do. Hileman and I set up a time to come look at his and he gave me three. I will cherish those swords for years and always tell the story of my teacher that truly loved and cared about his students.

Jacob Howe Posted 9 months ago

My first time hearing of Hileman was when I was a little boy. I have three older siblings who have all graduated since or is graduating this year. I heard thousands of good things, crazy stories, and activities that this teacher did. My siblings told me to put down museum connections (Hilemans class). I had to get into this class and see this teacher for myself, although it was an extremely competitive class to get into due to only limited amounts of space. i eventually got into the class my 7th grade year and now currently have the class again my 12th grade year. Hileman has to be the best teacher I have had before. The class feels nothing like a slandered class, but his teaching and learning is so upbeat and effective. There is never a day I come to class wanting to go home. Each day is new stories and interactive learning. There has been many time where I am able to use information from this class in my history classes ext. I even spend time after class to just have conversations with him to hear more about his experiences. Over all Hileman is amazing in his care for all the students he see and cares for our well being. Even if someone is having a bad day he notices and helps raise our heads and enjoy the day. It's a perfect balance of having fun but while stilling learning so much information at the same time. I have been able to teach my family and parents information they never had a chance to learn. I have also been able to bond with other students who learn and have similar interests as me in his class as everything is done together and in groups. Without this class I would have very hard days at school, not wanteing to always be showing up. But i always have a saving grace coming to this class to be happy and explore the world and its history in a fun manner. Mr Hileman is truly the best teacher who has changed the idea of learning for me forever. Thanks for everything Mr Hileman! From me and my siblings the Howes.

Virginia Curtright Posted 9 months ago

My name is Abigail Powell. I am entering these comments in support of Mr. Hileman from a awesome friend, Ginny Curtright. She is 76 years old and has no email. She does have a computer, but does not use it. She wrote this letter, and I am typing it up for her. Dear Selection Committee, I first met Mr. Hilema when he stopped at a garage sale we were having. My husband and I were amazed by his passion for history. I found out that we shared an interest in history and items related to early America. His classroom Museum tells many stories and changes his students lives for the better. My Three Granddaughters attended his class and all loved the class and his teaching style. They knew they were loved. One of them was fortunate to go on the Washington DC trip and experience seeing so many of our nations historic places. She even earned the right to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier's grave. This would not have happened with the tireless efforts of Mr. Keil Hileman. He has organized and run this trip for over 25 years now. Mr. Hileman has been more than a teacher to my family. He has been a friend and a mentor. i have witnessed his powerful relationship with his students on many occasions. He helped me organize and prepare for a huge sale at my home. His students came to help without knowing me at all. They came because Mr. Hileman asked. Two of these students I now call my adopted grandchildren. One of them is the nice young lady typing up my letter, Mrs. Abigail Powell. Another young man named James has told ma many times that he desires to become a history teacher just like Mr. Hileman. He also plans on inheriting the museum, or ast lease some of its contents to teach with in the future. I have taken my Red Hat Ladies group to tour Mr. Hileman's Museum on several occasions. I am always impressed with the respect he has earned from his students. So many of his students have become teachers because of his teaching style. Many of them stay in touch and come visit him on a regular basis. There are many stories i could share and tales i could tell to support Mr. Hileman here. The single most powerful fact you need to know is how he changes his students. There are so many instances of students entering his classes and having no interest in school at all. With his help, passion and guidance they find and develop an interest in learning about the world they live in and its past. I am 86 years old and consider him a good friend. I know he is changing lives every day. Mr. Hileman is a Life changing person in a life changing profession. Sincerely Yours, Virginia Curtright

william schwartz Posted 9 months ago

I am writing this letter in support of Keil Hileman's nomination as LifeChanger of the Year. Because my frame of reference seems to be considerably different from many of his other support letters I want to provide a bit of information about myself. I have three degrees: undergraduate in history, masters in international relations and an MBA in finance. I worked for over two decades in international finance and spent a final decade teaching economics and business administration at two liberal arts colleges. Thus, if I may use a cliche, I am a "real world" businessman with a strong liberal arts background. On to my recommendation> The unique characteristic of Keil's teaching is that he is highly aware of the importance of both stretching his students' minds with a healthy dose of history, political science, and even archeology and at the same time he is highly cognizant of the need for the students to be prepared for the real world of skills development and life preparation. I have spent time in his museum and he has explained how he presents materials and concepts in ways that both stimulate student interest and educate on academic concepts at the same time. The uniqueness of his approach and his effectiveness with his students are truly remarkable. Let me provide a few examples, from the museum that Keil created, of artifacts he has collected and which have intended and unintended educational benefits. The airplane models, particularly from the Cold War period, focus the students' attention not only on aerodynamics but also on political issues, particularly national security. The antique cash registers promote the study of mathematics, technology, and indirectly raise the issue of personal spending (and perhaps frugality?). The antique hats and costumes, including the (wearable) suit of armor, remind us of knighthood lifestyle and experiences. The collection of old newspapers invites the student to relive history. The antique stoves vividly remind the student how hard life was in decades past and how much time was consumed merely in household chores and getting through the day. The (world-wide) coin collections, with their national images, remind us of national histories and goals which vary enormously from country to country. A college professor friend of mine, when she saw the exhibits, said the museum "made her want to be in the eighth grade again". I have known Keil, through family connections, ever since he was a small boy. His character is impeccable. (I don't see other recommendations noting that he was/is an Eagle Scout but that qualification speaks directly to his character.) In the strongest possible terms I encourage his selection as LifeChanger of the Year. On to my recommendation. The unique characteristic of Keil's teaching is that he is highly aware of the importance of bothe

Lucas Hall Posted 9 months ago

Being in a classroom with Mr. Hileman is like walking into the wrong bathroom; Everything looks similar at first, but the subtle differences begin to show, and just as suddenly, someone walks out of a stall and backhands you across the cheek. To explain it in a way that's not a convoluted metaphor, the way he teaches is like being slapped in the face, but in a good way. I'm not so sure how to explain being slapped as a good thing, but I'll try my best. Similar to being suddenly slapped, you remember every single class period with Hileman; there's always something mind-bogglingly interesting to talk about, and the way he teaches reinforces that idea. Never once have I walked into his class and felt like I was being taught. Rather, it feels like I'm walking into my crazy uncle's house so he can tell me about all these wondrous things that he's discovered over the years. That's exactly what it's like; Talking to someone you're close to explain something they're so deeply enamored with, and it's amazing. I never feel lectured, or spoken down to, or even like I'm wasting my time. I always learn something, and I always have an amazing time doing it. If I could change the education system in one way, it would be to show them how to teach like Hileman (and maybe increase his grant money. I got you, man :) ). I've said it many times before, probably even written here, but I'll say it again. His teaching always feels like a friend with a deep passion explaining what he loves to you, going over every little detail and making sure you're following along so you don't miss something wonderful. So yeah, I would steal a bunch of colleagues away to see his class if I got the chance, but I think anybody would. I'll probably bawl like a baby on the last day of his class this year, and he probably will too, but that's fine. If I'm gonna cry over any teacher, I'd hope it's him. Mr. Hileman, you've been an amazing support to everyone and me, and I'll be devastated to no longer have your class, but it most likely won't be the last of me you'll see. If I get the chance, I'd love to help scout artifacts for the museum, and whatever Indiana Jones shenanigans that may entail, I'm with you all the way. I hope you teach many more years to perfect your craft (as much as you'd rather me wish that you owned a private island and a million dollars, this will have to do), and I hope the museum and its legacy lives on past you and me. I hope many more get to experience what you bring to the table, and I hope other educators take note. And as Spock probably never actually said at one point, "Keep rockin', you a cool dude and an inspiration to everyone you touch."

Karen Wall Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is one of the most talented and dedicated educators I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Though we never taught in the same building, I taught American history at De Soto High School from 1994 until my retirement in 2005 and was able to work with Keil on the district level as well as have students who had been inspired by his teaching and his commitment to them. The many comments already posted by former students, parents, former Kansas Commissioners of Education, a Past President of Kansas NEA, as well as the former Superintendent of USD 232 and a Kansas University Associate Professor of Education have given the selection committee an accurate account of the great impact that he has had on his students. Keil Hileman is the epitome of a "life changer." He combines his intelligence and knowledge of history and related fields with his passion and concern for his students to provide life-long lessons of living and learning. His energy level is unsurpassed; his enthusiasm is constant and contagious. I am pleased to add my support to his nomination for Life Changer of the Year. Hundreds and even thousands of his students would be in full agreement as well.

Amy Rowson Posted 9 months ago

I have known Keil Hileman my entire life. We grew up in the same church and became friends. Teaching is not simply his job, it's his life. He has the ability to connect with so many people. Keil has said "good friends are chosen family," and from reading the stories from his students, their parents, and his colleagues he has chosen to welcome more into his loving family. He brings history alive to his students by engaging with them and thus additionally passing on knowledge. He also is able to give the artifacts new life, for they were previously hidden away in a dark corner with no voice. The memories from their owners finally being shared. There is no better nominee than Keiil because he truly embodies the quote, "to teach is to change lives forever".

Kate Hileman Posted 9 months ago

I am Keil Hileman's youngest(and coolest) daughter. I have known him as a coach a teacher and a father. My dad has always been there when I needed him to be. When I was in 2nd grade no one else was willing to coach a volleyball team. My dad stepped up and took on the role of coach. So many people wanted to join our team at that point that we couldn't have everyone on. My dad inspired us to persevere and helped all of us on the team to become who we are today. My dad has also been bringing artifacts and colorful stories to my schools and many other schools around the district. I have always been proud to call him my dad. He has taught and guided so many people in his lifetime. His passion to change lives does not end on the weekend. Every Sunday he teaches me and the other youth students at De Soto United Methodist Church. He makes learning more fun by adding real-life events and his own personal care to what he talks about and makes others feel welcomed and important. Lastly, I have known him as my father. He has influenced me to make smarter decisions and be proud of what I do. Whenever I need help whether it be with homework or anything else that may be going on in my life my dad has always been the one that is there for me and can provide his knowledge on the matter. My dad has guided me through tough times and has always stayed positive when I can't seem to gather the courage to do it myself. My dad does not just change lives in the classroom. He changes the entire environment of the building he is teaching in. He then uses his sick days to travel to schools across our district to do hands-on artifact presentations for any school that invites him and needs his help. He also presents to schools outside of the district, boy scout and girl scout troops all over Kansas, retired teacher groups and the red hat ladies. Honestly, my dad has won so many awards I don't think I would be able to keep track. Though none of them are hanging in his office or in his classroom there are all in boxes in a closet. To my dad, his students are a thousand times more important than any award that he has been recognized with. I can tell that his true passion is teaching and that he really does want to make the world a better place through that. Even though I might be biased as his daughter I still can not think of a better person who has changed my life and molded me to the person I am today.

Josh Grimes Posted 9 months ago

The amount of things I could write about how Mr. Hileman and the impact he continues to make is endless. From all of the accolades, stories from past students and teachers is a small testament of the permanent impact and memories he makes for all of those around him, students and faculty. Mr. Hileman does not only deserve an award for life changer of the year but has made such an impact that life changer and impact maker of the past 2 decades is more deserving of an award. To maintain relevance with both current and past students shows just how genuine and invested he truly is in making life long lasting change.

Gregory Beck Posted 9 months ago

I highly endorse Keil because of the work he does in and out of the classroom to further education. I have first hand knowledge of his museum and he was an excellent speaker last year at our George Washington Birthday celebration for the Sons of the American Revolution. He brings history to life and keeps audiences and students of all ages thoroughly engaged and laughing as well.

Barbara Knopke Posted 9 months ago

I have had the pleasure of knowing Keil for many years. In 2007, Keil was nominated by the Prairie Rose Chapter, NSDAR due to his outstanding ability as a teacher. Keil went on to win the State of Kansas Award then went on to win the National Daughters of the American Revolution American History Teacher Award. We have had chapter meetings in his museum classroom and amazed by all he has and his teaching methods. He has also been the main speaker at another organization and everyone was blown away by his off the script presentation and clamored for more. I wish I had a teacher like him when I was in school because he brings history to life. It is not just words and dates to memorize and later forget, but you touch and become a part of the history you are learning about and that stays with you for a very long time. He makes it personal. I live close to the school he teaches at and I have come in contact with his current and former students. All you have to do is ask "Do you know Mr. Hileman" and the kids get the biggest smile and the excitement comes flooding out of their mouth as they talk about how great it was to take his class or how they regret they didn't take his class. I have never heard one negative word about Keil. I wish every student had the ability to be in his class and truly learn history. They feel the slave irons and see just how terrible it was to be forced to wear them, to try on a US Wave's uniform and step into the world of that woman. The fact that you can feel, touch, smell and watch via movies what it was like during the time he is teaching about. Sure makes me want to go back to school. He is a national treasure.

Allison Hanna Posted 9 months ago

I am so lucky to have a daughter who experienced Keil's class in 8th grade. She would come home with stories to share over dinner night after night. His demeanor and passion for sharing history with kids is astounding. Kids in middle school are a tough bunch to engage at times and Keil not only was engaging them, but motivating and inspiring them to learn more, ask questions, and explore curious questions. Every day was a different experience and taught in a way that grabbed kid's attention leaving them hanging on his every word. Adults can feel like kids again exploring his artifacts and he takes time to talk to anyone who walks through his door. His leadership skills are phenomenal communicating with students in a personable, but meaningful way. He personally gets to know each student and when my daughter was going through a tough time outside of school, Keil helped mentor her and encourage her. He is role model for all students teaching them that life is full of choices, responsibility, and accountability. He brings people together with his personality and his dedication and I can't think of anyone more deserving of this award. His legacy will be people who remember they learned how to love learning and asking questions to find their passion.

Kris Jenkins Posted 9 months ago

All three of our children were blessed to have Mr. Hileman as a teacher! I was lucky enough to have been a Guest Teacher in his classroom on several occasions. I can say, without any doubt or hesitation, that Mr. Hileman truly cares about his students and the content that he shares with them. Nowhere else, that I know of has the types of artifacts and the discovery methodology the Mr. Hileman uses in his classroom. Mr. Hileman is a true American treasure! There aren't enough good things I can say about him. His passion for teaching and for his students is bar none.

Rachael Whitten Posted 9 months ago

Within the last couple of years, I've had the honor of not only meeting and working with Mr. Hileman, but also being present in his classroom to help support my students. As such I am now and forever will be a big supporter of his work and all that he does for his students. Let me tell you why. Upon first walking into his classroom, my students were filled with curiosity and wonder. The visual feast for their eyes enticed them to the point where they are on their best behaviors so as not to miss a single second of class, and the most beautiful thing about that is the immersive experience and hands on method of learning. ALL of the students were engaged. Ears perked at every word he said, giggles abounding, attentive and engaged, thoughtful and inquisitive questions arise from the students and even my interests were peaked. The most surprising thing about all of this, is that it's not just because of all the artifacts and shelves upon shelves lining the walls, packed with items just waiting to be discovered and remembered. Every item has a story to tell and being able to help students understand that connection to material objects signifying great moments and impacts in history is crucial. But because of his passion and enthusiasm. His wit and humor and ability to keep all students involved and engaged is monumental. His ability to include ALL students, regardless of quirks and behaviors has made my work in assisting my students unnecessary, this to me, is a proud moment. A moment where inclusion meets not only the classroom, but the dynamic between teacher and student becomes so strong and beneficial that my intervening is not needed. Independence is a main goal for the students that I work with. Inclusion and advocacy for the rights of all children to have access to the same curriculum and social standing as their peers is why I do what I do. Every single child has their own unique strengths. Mr. Hileman not only sees this but encourages the acceptance of this by role modelling what acceptance and understanding truly looks like. This alone is teaching all students what inclusion is and how it looks through daily interactions. In the first few days of class he shared some stories about some health problems he has overcome throughout his life. He told us that he has had students who have come to him in times of great stress and that he did not turn them away, he took them seriously and with his generosity, impacted their lives in a beneficial way that is astounding. He spoke of empowering self-worth, of resilience of the body and mind when they are in balance. He made it a point to take everyone’s voice as worthy of being heard. No question, remark or comment was unacceptable. This simple act produces an amount of respect that exceeds student to teacher interaction and brings it to a level of security that enables learning to not only be efficient but welcoming. Everyone has a voice. They are worthy of being heard. This simple act of sympathy and willingness to be open and receptive without judgement should not go unnoticed. I once read, that the simple act of compassion has the power to change the world, and Mr. Hileman lives his life through acts of compassion and kindness. Even just reading through the comments on this, I can see that he has been consistent in his way of teaching and has sparked so much good in the world. As not only a colleague, and an advocate for inclusion, but as a mother of a child with special needs, I look forward to the day when my child walks into his classroom and is a part of something so profound and worthwhile. Mr. Hileman’s altruism and devotion to learning and supporting his students is not only admirable but inspiring. He is the epitome of a Life Changer.

Connor Bichelmeyer Posted 9 months ago

Mister Hileman is literally one of my inspirations to be a teacher in the future. The way his class is set up inspires all kinds of curiosity and I was utterly surprised to see his classroom was a room full of artifacts when I walked in the first day. It made me think, "when I have my own classroom one day, I want it to be like Mister Hileman's!" Though, I don't want to teach archeaology in the future (I want to teach writing), Mister Hileman's classroom inspires me to value teaching even more, as our ancestors will be gone in the future. I want to carry Mister Hileman's style of teaching in a different form into my classroom. He's very funny and can relate to students so well which makes him one of the best teachers I know. I can tell that he has such a passion for teaching and it's the reason why he can change anybody's life. As for every successful person, there's always teachers behind that helped them to that point. Thank you Mister Hileman

Brittany Hoskins Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Heilman was my teacher over 24 years ago. And to this day, he is remembered not only by me but my classmates as well. His class was hands down the best class I had been apart of. He truly loved teaching and brought so many cool things to incorporate into his teaching. He not only was an outstanding teacher and role model, but was there for his students outside of the classroom if they needed anything. So blessed to have been apart of his class!

April Castle Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is all the hype in Shawnee, Kansas. I was in his class twenty years ago. I adored him then, and all the kids still do now. Every kid who attends Monticello Trails Middle School hopes for ONE thing: to be in Mr. Hileman’s class! We are blessed to have him. Much love.

Blake West Posted 9 months ago

It is an honor and a privilege to add my support for Keil Hileman’s nomination. In 2003-2004, I was on leave from my classroom as an officer for Kansas NEA. One responsibility I had was to assist the Kansas Teacher of the Year finalists as they traveled the state providing workshops, speaking on behalf of students and the crucial role of education in bringing hope and transformation to their lives. Keil’s selection as Kansas Teacher of the Year in 2004 AND as a finalist for the National Foundation for Improvement in Education’s Award for Teaching Excellence provided an opportunity for educators and community members from across the country to realize that there was something of profound importance happening in Kansas. They saw how Keil brought history and the social issues that still challenge our society to life for students, helped them to become passionate about learning and about trying to be better citizens and better human beings. It is not unusual for Keil’s sharing of history through the actual artifacts and firsthand reports in his amazing museum to bring ALL of us (we are all students in Keil’s presence) to tears, creating a profound desire to make a difference in the world. Just for one example, he showed us actual chains that had been used on slave ships to bring slaves to this country. But then he showed us the tiny chains that were used to hold small children captive, too. We each had to come to grips with the inhumanity that lived in the hearts of humankind… that continues to be lived out through subtle but devastating actions and beliefs. His collection of artifacts has grown as individuals see how the little piece of history they may be holding onto could serve to inspire, energize, and motivate students to action. They pass along amazing objects and stories to him. Keil’s passion for teaching and for impacting the lives of his students runs deep, motivated by the personal traumas that have impacted his own life. He senses and responds with immeasurable energy to the calling to be teacher, counselor, motivator, and deeply caring mentor with his students while also humbly offering his support to their families and to all of us fellow educators who have come to know him. His students go far beyond loving history and wanting to understand our society. They become transformative change agents. This has been his impact on my own life as I continue to share about the stories I heard and artifacts I saw while learning from Keil. I continue to share about his example and life journey when I visit with other educators, hoping to awaken within them the possibility of being a source of inspiration and even healing of the spirit for the lives they encounter. To this end, Keil’s impact continues to have an exponential effect through all that have known him. Selection for this particular award would continue to make that beautiful impact grow.

Wade Schuler Posted 9 months ago

When I first stepped into Mr.Hileman’s classroom at Monticello trails, I was greeted by a warm smile and an even warmer hello. His room was filled with students projects he displayed like trophies, he called them artifacts. Mr.Hileman was always positive and made class fun, I learned about archeology, history, and valuable lessons that came with Kile as a teacher. Junior year of high school my house burned down, me and my family had lost everything. I was bare foot in December with nowhere to call home. Mr.Hileman went to the district seeking help for me and my family, he gave me a TV, and because of his golden heart, there is now a special emergency fund to help families going through similar problems. I strive to be half the man Kile is. A true life changer.

Jenna Dickman Posted 9 months ago

I remember the first time I met Mr. Hileman so vividly. When I was in elementary school we took a tour of the middle school and my only take away was that I knew I want to take museum connections with him! And I certainly did take the class throughout middle school. Mr. Hileman made such an impact as a teacher that when I went on to high school, I came back to take his honors archeology class just because he was teaching it. He has a passion for what he does, nobody can argue against that. He made learning interactive and fun. He also cared for each of his students. I wish there were more teachers in this world that had the same level of care.

Lynn Vasquez Posted 9 months ago

I’ve had the honor in being in Kiel Hileman’s museum class, and it is truly an experience I still vividly remember to this day. His passion and energy when talking about the events related to the artifacts makes the history truly come alive! Like many of his artifacts, as a social studies educator, Kiel is a rare find. As the former Social Studies Program Consultant for the State of Kansas, I can attest to how celebrated Keil is not only in his district but in the state and across the nation. He has been recognized and celebrated for many accomplishments by many organizations and individuals, but none more important than his students, who he always places first. Truly deserving!

Shelley ballentine Posted 9 months ago

Me. Hileman was one of my favorite teachers. I took his class when I was in 8th grade back in 2003-2004. He is a very respectable man. You can really tell that his passion is molding young minds and teaching what he knows best! His class was one that I never wanted to leave when the bell rang. He is enthusiastic and proud about his job. We don’t have many teachers like this. And a lot of us really appreciate all that he had done in the past. Go mr. H! Keep shining and pursuing. Your awesome!

Sabrina Andrews Posted 9 months ago

I have the honor of being a coworker of Keil who was also blessed to have had all three of his children in my class. He is always willing to go the extra step to support fellow teachers in their teaching adventures. His classroom museum is open to all, and whenever I am teaching a topic, I know Keil has some fantastic artifact that will really help make the point with the kids. Once he brought in an antique apple peeler to show how much items have changed over the past150 years. I have never seen kids so engaged and excited about peeling apples. Another time Keil brought in an actual car load of Native American artifacts to share with students. Eighty eyes were glued to him for almost ninety minutes. When recess came, he offered to stay and continue talking to the kids who wanted to know more. All but a handful stayed with him, willing to sacrifice their recess just to continue to hear what he had to say. He has donated artifacts for us to keep permanently at our school in a glass case for all to see for generations. More recently, over the past few years he has come to our school to help us celebrate Veterans Day. Keil has the passion in his voice and the humor to engage 400 students at one time. He is fun, spontaneous, and extremely knowledgeable. Many people who have been through all the life challenges he has would not have the same widespread jubilant attitude that he does. His passion for history, education, family, friends, and teaching is priceless and no one is more deserving of this award.

kalthsha000/shai Posted 9 months ago

he has helped me through tough times. i tutor with him and he helps me a ton because i'm not the smartest lad. so this is the reayso i think he should win. By: rowdy boy

Bryan Smith Posted 9 months ago

The way Mr. H teaches his classes is Amazing. I love learning about history in a different way. I really enjoy learning things no one else will teach us about. This is my favorite class. The atmosphere literally changes my day. This class opens my mind it makes me feel ascended. Every time we talk in class about cool archeology stories... I gain new knowledge. He makes my school day better. He changes all of our lives when we are in class together.

Mrs. Shannon Thimmesch Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman takes time to spread his joy of learning with Corinth Elementary each year around Veterans Day. He has such a wonderful way of making the day meaningful to students and adults alike. They leave his presentation with a greater understanding of the reason we honor veterans.

Luke Coverdale Posted 9 months ago

I enjoy his class every day. He makes us all laugh while we are learning cool history topics. He has a unique way of teasing me and making me feel like I am important to him. He really cares about us. I believe he genuinely cares about his students as people. He uses artifacts to tell stories. He has a large Elk Skin that is painted by Native Americans. He taught us how the Native Americans were connected to their land and were thankful for it. After Mr. H taught us about all of these Native American Artifacts, he set up a cool day where we taught the 3rd Graders at Prairie Ridge Elementary school. It was very interesting to be on the teacher side of the learning. The students were very excited. Every opportunity he makes available for us changes us as people.

Kate Soukup Posted 9 months ago

Just last year, when I was picking my "explo" classes for 6th grade, everyone was telling me about how I had to chose him, on the day I found got my schedule I wa so happy to see that I had his class! He is an amazing teacher and so many fun story's for us everyday! Everyday I come home with a million story's to tell my parents about that class! And Mr. Hileman always treats you like a friend, not a student!

Donna Steiner Posted 9 months ago

I have known Kyle Hileman for many years now. He was a teacher of both of my daughters the oldest is who is now 29 years old. The way that he teaches and uses the artifacts is just amazing. The kids just can't wait to go to his class daily to see what he has for them. My oldest daughter still will bring him up in conversations still to this day, Now that she has boys starting school. She has said that there needs to be more teachers like him that make students want to learn more, by making it so much fun!! He is an amazing teacher and friend.

Justin Hitt Posted 9 months ago

Keil was my 7th grade history teacher and I, 16 years later, still remember the lessons and of his museum. His is a kind and intelligent person who fostered within me a spirit and zest for the remnants of our past through the artifacts he accumulated, displayed, and about which he lectured. His method is life-changing, and I have seen it through countless other students since my graduation from that course and school. I truly hope he wins this award - he certainly deserves it!!!!

Vicki O'Neal Posted 9 months ago

It is my honor and privilege to submit a letter of support for Keil Hileman. I first met Keil in 2003 when we were both nominees for Kansas Teacher of the Year. I knew from our first encounter that Keil was a special individual and a dedicated teacher. Keil went on to be named the Kansas Teacher of the Year 2004 and I was part of the KTOY team. For several months we traveled the state talking to legislators, civic groups, educators and preservice teachers, advocating for education and sharing our experience and passion. Keil was always able to connect with any group we spoke to and leave them eager to know more. We spoke to a community group in my hometown of Baxter Springs. No formal program was planned. But Keil had some artifacts with him and was asked to say a few words. He spoke for just a few minutes about his "Museum collection" and explained how he taught using these artifacts. One man was so moved after the presentation that he went out to his car and came back in to give Keil a Ku Klux Klan card that had been in his family for years. He said that if Keil could use it to teach about prejudice, he wanted him to have it! He understood that Keil's teaching was making a difference in the lives of students! When our team first visited Keil's classroom museum, I was overwhelmed! I was surrounded by thousands of artifacts, replicas and students projects. There were even posters on the ceiling! What an incredible creative learning environment for students! It's a place where students can be immersed in learning and engaged in the history connected to each piece as Keil relates its personal story. Seeing and touching a real slave collar puts a whole different spin on history for a student! His students not only learn history, they live it! What a life-changer that is! I am proud to support my forever friend and colleague for this award. I can think of no one else who is more deserving of this recognition.

Sara Hempleman Posted 9 months ago

Whenever someone asks me about my most memorable experience from school, I always think of Mr. Hileman. Before I took his class, I really did not care about what I was learning, but Mr. Hileman helped grow my passion for learning. Through his class, I became fascinated with history and how it influences our world. Students were always trying to get into Mr. Hileman's class, and I was one of the lucky ones who did. His teaching style is engaging, relevant, and captivating. He brings a contagious energy to his class, and you cannot help but be excited to be there. No matter what was going on at school, Mr. Hileman's museum is a safe space for all. He taught myself and my 3 siblings, and we have nothing but great memories of his class and what we learned. We gained so much about history and how the world works, but more importantly we learned that we are all here to support one another, be better than we were yesterday, and to leave the world a bit better than when we found it.

Maggie Gremminger Posted 9 months ago

In 1999, Mr. Hileman was my teacher. What I experienced in his classroom 20 years ago was something special and unlike any other classroom. Mr. Hileman is a life changing teacher. He bring the past to the present. He welcomes students to embrace curiosity and explore the stories and people of the past. While he was the authority of the classroom, the energy of his classroom always felt different. We, these crazy 7th graders, had no desire to pick on, or disregard Mr. Hileman in the way I had seen some of the trouble maker boys do with other teachers at MTMS. In his room, there was mutual respect and space that was ripe for learning. He made such an impact on me that year, that I had even sent a letter to Oprah about him! I'm so glad that Mr. Hileman is still bringing the magic of learning to his middle schoolers. The approach to learning is unlike any other, his ability to nurture genuine relationships with his students is unlike any other, and his integrity as an education professional is unlike any other. Without a doubt, and with or without this recognition, one thing is for certain: Mr. Hileman is already life changer of the year, every year he serves as a teacher.

Susan Thomas-Butler Posted 9 months ago

All three of my students had the honor of taking Mr. Heilman's Museum Connections class. He invests in each and every one of this students and truly cares. Our school district is privileged to have such a wonderful educator!

Randy Johnson Posted 9 months ago

I was an education student at the University of Kansas in 2007. My advisor was Joe O'Brien and he sent me to do my student observation for a semester with Keil. If I'm being honest I was disillusioned with teaching at the time. No Child Left Behind did not sit well with me, I had seen many educators beat down and they clearly had given up, my own K-12 education leaders had let me down (I was also to blame for this) and that dream of making a difference as a teacher had faded in my mind. This is the mindset I had going into Keil's classroom. I had been in other classrooms before and I saw the demeanor of the students (it was not positive), but in my first day in the first 5 minutes I felt the energy in the room immediately. Keil called his students "Amigos" and they clearly liked this. He had their attention and their respect and over the course of the semester I saw why. It was 2 simple things, he cared and he tried. People appreciate effort in general and Keil had that in spades. You don't see many people fired from a job who are giving real effort. That is because you cant teach it and the people who give it are actually very difficult to find. Not only did Keil put in the effort, he also demanded it back from his students and there is no greater difference that someone can make in a student's life than to demand that they try and put in the effort. I was 26 when I went to college and was completely lost before I enrolled. I did not end up going into education but I do manage others now in the recruiting world. I come to work each day and I put in the effort to succeed and that has carried me through my career.

Kelcie Neff Posted 9 months ago

It's been nearly a decade since I've sat behind a desk in Mr. Hileman's Monticello Trails Middle School classroom, yet I still find myself talking about the lessons he taught. He left an indelible impression on my young mind that I am beyond grateful for and that I will model much of my own teaching after. Mr. Hileman is undeniably an incredible person, mentor, and teacher. I can only hope that my own kids will have the opportunity to have a teacher like Mr. Hileman at least once through their educational careers.

Jenn Tews Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman just spoke at our elementary Veteran's Day assembly at Corinth. He was fantastic! You could tell he is a difference maker in his student's lives as I sat there wishing I could take his class. He was engaging, funny, and relevant in the knowledge he shared with students. What an impact he had on all of us in the short time he was here. I can't imagine the impact he has on his students on a day to day basis.

Christy Levings Posted 9 months ago

Dear Selection Committee: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy wrote, “History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing into the future.” I am proud to nominate Mr. Keil Hileman, II, a teacher who brings passion, dedication, and pleasure to serving the relentless master of history. In fact, Keil has found ways to make history real for his students so it shapes their vision of the future. President Kennedy wrote often of the need to study and learn from history. That type of study comes alive in Keil Hileman’s classroom and helps to create the educated future citizens our former president envisioned. In preparing Keil’s nomination, so many requested to be a part of his nomination we could not use all the letters sent to us. Let me share some comments the committee should be aware of from the letters we did not include. Dr. Andy Tompkins, former Kansas Commissioner of Education, wrote: “As the 2004 Kansas Teacher of the Year and one of four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year, Keil has been touring Kansas meeting with education professionals, preservice teachers and policy makers. I have had the opportunity to attend several of Keil’s presentations and hear him explain his philosophy of teaching, describe his classroom, and share his passion for his subject matter and his profession. It is truly invigorating to feel the passion Keil has for learning and for helping others learn and to see his contagious enthusiasm. It is easy to understand why his students are so excited about his class.” One of the things that makes Keil’s classroom unique is the museum concept he has developed. Keil has amassed literally thousands of historical artifacts that fill his classroom and allow his students to personally connect with history. Those who hear Keil speak never fail to be intrigued by the many artifacts he shares or how he uses them in his lessons to engage students in the learning process. To me, Keil’s classroom museum is indicative of the innovative and imaginative efforts he brings to bear while trying to spark the love of learning in each child. Keil is not the kind of teacher who concerns himself only with what happens in his classroom. Keil actively seeks opportunities to share experiences and knowledge with others, both in his building and throughout the state. For a number of years, Keil has served as his district’s curriculum representative and has taught a teacher recertification course at MidAmerica Nazarene University. As the Kansas teacher of the Year, Keil seized every opportunity to meet with preservice teachers and to visit other schools and classrooms in our state. I feel fortunate to have a teacher like Keil Hileman representing our state. He is passionately committed to his profession, he has a love of finding just the right method for reaching every child, and he willingly shares his experiences for the betterment of our profession and our students. I urge you to give serious consideration to his nomination for this award. Dr. Marilyn Layman, recently retired Superintendent of Schools, wrote, “Keil began his formal teaching career with USD 232, but I don’t think he ever was a beginner teacher. He hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped in 11 years. He just keeps getting better! Because of his effervescent teaching style and the thousands of pieces of history students can touch, see and manipulate; ALL students learn in his classrooms. He is a most organized and dedicated teacher. Students know what they are to learn, they learn it, and they are then able to tell and write about what they’ve learned. Students’ lives are literally transformed by the opportunity to be in Mr. Hileman’s classroom. In addition, he has arranged for a number of extended overnight trips to Washington, D. C. as a means of enhancing students’ learning. He has never turned down district responsibilities and serving on curriculum writing teams. Keil has been a coach of many activities and sports in and out of school. Keil, as you can see from the comments, is one of those people who strap on some sort of energy pack each morning and the rest of us need track shoes to keep up. When I am with Keil I am hypnotized by his energy and passion for teaching. When he talks of his lessons you have the sensation of the hair on the back of your neck standing up because it connects not only with your mind but also with your emotions. There is no passive learning in Keil’s classroom – history will reach out and grab your body and soul… and literally change you. You WILL walk away inspired to be a become a lifelong learner. Keil is a walking celebration of what is best about teaching and learning. He makes me proud to be in the same profession and he makes me laugh, cry, and learn from the stories he tells of the work of his students. Keil Hileman is the example of quality teaching and dedication to the profession. Please accept this as support to his nomination on behalf of one of the finest educators in the nation and an example of the work of the many talented Kansas teachers. Sincerely, Christy Levings, Past President of Kansas NEA

Erica Miller Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman has been a staple of the JCCC Summer Youth Enrichment Program for 20 plus years. I started coordinating the youth program at JCCC in 2013 and have always enjoyed working with Keil. During the years I have worked with Keil he has been open to offering new topics or changing up the curriculum for his repeat classes. He also makes an effort to receive feedback from the students about what topics they would like him to teach for the next year. Keil is reliable and an excellent instructor, which shows in the evaluations completed by the students and the parents. I have personally observed Keil in the classroom and one of the things I appreciate about Keil is how he communicates with the students. He has a way of making each student feel special and that what they have to see is important. He also has a way of talking about a topic that ropes the kids in and has them asking for more information. Keil is an amazing instructor and person and I highly recommend him for the Lifechanger of the Year.

Sherry Bukovatz Posted 9 months ago

Relationships, creativity, passion, energy are but a few of the words that come to mind when I think of Keil Hileman. He has the most unique classroom I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. It's filled with artifacts that he uses as tools to reach and to teach students. It takes only a moment to discern that Keil is passionate about bringing history to life for his students, and one can readily see that his students hang onto his every word. Several years ago, one of the Kansas Teachers of the Year shared with me that she remembered Keil Hileman coming to visit her school during his year of service as 2004 Kansas Teacher of the Year. During her tenure as Kansas Teacher of the Year, she was able to visit Keil and his classroom museum. She shared that his visit to her school many years ago had a deep impact on her as a young teacher. The opportunity to see Keil and his museum was one of the highlights of her year.

Grant Davis Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was not only my teacher in 8th grade Museum Connections all the way back in the 2003 to 2004 school year for me. I’m honored and happy to call him a mentor and friend for life. He taught me a lot about history but he taught it in a way that was both educational and entertaining and I loved every second of it. But, he is also has a heart bigger than his collection of artifacts and relics of the past. I also in the 2003 to 2004 school year travelled to Wichita along with my mother to watch him win and accept an award for teacher a year. He also like a father to me and to anyone who needed a father figure in their life when their biological couldn’t make the grade in their lives. GOD Bless him and his family! Thank you for the good times big guy and I love you!

Jeff Prothro Posted 9 months ago

I have had the honor to serve as pastor of De Soto United Methodist Church where Keil and his family attends. Keil is heavily involved in church activities, including teaching the Middle and High School Sunday School. With his keen insight and sharp wit Keil provides a safe space and a warm atmosphere where all feel welcome into his classroom. Keil also has on occasion spoken before the entire congregation and has been well-received as he talks about his passion for giving back to other and the wider community. It's been a joy learning more about his dedication to teaching, ensuring that every student he works with knows that he or she is worthy to be loved and can achieve their goals. He brings that same passion to the church community, being open and welcoming to any and all who attend. We are fortunate to have someone like Keil who is ready to step in and lead others and give volunteer hours so that this community of faith can be as warm as welcoming as possible. I am grateful for all that Keil does for his family, friends, school, and community.

April Davis Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was my 7th grade World History teacher in 1996-1997 at Monticello Trails Middle School. To this day, I picture him in my mind as an energetic, knowledgeable, impressionable and honest teacher who was always in a good mood. At that point in my life, consistency was what I needed most, and I received it in him as a teacher. I felt safe in his classroom and counted on his guidance in class and in life in general. He never let me down; for real. I now fill the role as one of his substitute teachers and feel proud and honored. I did not predict he would continue to be a part of my life at age 36. He trusts me with his current students and for this I am honored. He is an amazing person.

Janet Wilson Posted 9 months ago

I have worked with Keil for the last 20 years. He is absolutely amazing. The love he has for his job, students and fellow co-workers is out of this world. He always shows me his treasures from his adventures. If I would of have a teacher like him when I was in school I would have never left his classroom. There is always something new to see and the way he presents the stories for each artifact is like none other. I am truly blessed to call him my friend. It is an honor to work with such an amazing human being.

Kate Soukup Posted 9 months ago

Just last year, when I was picking my "explo" classes for 6th grade, everyone was telling me about how I had to chose him, on the day I found got my schedule I wa so happy to see that I had his class! He is an amazing teacher and so many fun story's for us everyday! Everyday I come home with a million story's to tell my parents about that class! And Mr. Hileman always treats you like a friend, not a student!

Bri Posted 9 months ago

By far one of the most, if not most, influential teachers I've ever had. Mr. Heilman made an effort to know all of us in his class on a personal level. He taught us that kindness is important, listening demonstrates care, and a life spent learning is a life well lived. I haven't been in his classroom since 1998 but I remember vividly what it was like to experience passion because of him and the world he created.

Elaina Weese Posted 9 months ago

I have mister Hileman this year. When i came in 5th grade i just thought he was a crazy person. But when i got him i was so excited. When i first went to the the classroom he said that we are a family. Evry teacher says that but he means it. He is always happy and exited. Monticello trails is lucky to have him.

Barb Draper Posted 9 months ago

As a Monticello Trails paraprofessional, I have seen Keil work his magic with students for over 21 years. When it’s time to go to Museum Connections, the normally nonchalant pace quickens. I have seen Keil’s presentations to students and have seen how contagious his passion for history is. They don’t even know how much they are learning from him. Students tell me that he cares about their education but also cares about them as individuals making their way in the world. He has a unique style and a way of teaching that is like no other. My students feel like they are truly in the time period being discussed when Keil shares his expertise - he brings history to life. He always has the most positive attitude and helps all of our students in ways that could never be measured.

Donna Muiller Posted 9 months ago

Keil, congratulations on receiving this nomination! We are so proud of you and love you very much! We know that each student who is in one of your classes is a very fortunate student, and that the positive influence you have on each student is a big step forward in their maturity as a student, and as an adult. With your guidance and encouragement, they will always be learners and doers. If our love for you was one big vote, the world could not hold it! Jim and Donna

Chris Dunsworth Posted 9 months ago

My son, Jackson Kent, loved going to Mr. Hileman's class 1st semester. He came home excited to share what he learned in class. He wanted to drop a class he wasn't enjoying this semester and try to take Mr. Hileman's class again. His brother, Harper, is excited to have the opportunity next year to take Mr. Hileman's class.

Alexandra Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr.Hileman last year as a teacher and it was my favorite class, I looked forward to going to that class every green day. not only because the class was fun but because he cares about every one of his students like they are his own child, he makes learning interactive and interesting. when I was not wanting to be at school and was bored I would remember I had that class and got excited because its not just another history class it is a hands on class and the topics aren't just topics you would learn in your typical history class, we talked about so many interesting things wether it was sad or funny history he made it exciting and that gave me motivation to learn and be interested in new things. he cares about every single student that comes into that classroom and that is something that lets students know that the room is a safe environment and they are able to talk about personal things or anything they would like to know about. one of my favorite activities was when we all wrote a question on a piece of paper and passed a hat around and then he answered the anonymous questions, that gives students that wouldn't usually talk in class or ask questions about something they want to learn about the chance to ask and be comfortable. wether you talk in class or not or want to be at school or not he makes it fun for every single student no matter what type of attitude you have towards learning you will learn something in that class and it will spark and make you see everything about history differently.

Connie Ferree Posted 9 months ago

I had the distinct honor of being on the Kansas Teacher of the Year Team for 2008 when Kyle was selected KansasTeacher of the Year. Little did I know that I was gaining a lifelong friend and colleague. Kyle displayed how much impact a caring, thoughtful, and knowledgable teacher can have on fellow teachers, students, and the public. He was the perfect choice to represent the best that educators in Kansas have to offer in this formalized manner for this term. He continues to demonstrate his love for educating people, not just students. His enthusiasm is compelling, exciting, and inspiring. He stimulates the listener's curiosity, tapping the innate need to know, and touching the soul to engage. His skill, passion, and, charisma are undeniable in his ability to to inspire students to become and achieve. He changes lives!

Vicki S. Cannon Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman Teacher. Mentor. When I look back at my son’s school “career”, I think about who had impact on his life and Keil Hileman is first to come to mind. Middle school is a tough time for most kids. It’s an awkward age. It’s a big change from elementary school. Keil has a special knack with kids. He sees beyond all of the typical teenage nonsense and can see the potential in each and every student. His class & teaching approach allows students to experience the classroom in a very unique way. Students are allowed to experience history by touching it as well as telling and listening to stories. The homework is unique projects and show-and-tell which permit engagement in a different way than most typical classrooms. There is always a waiting list to get into Mr. Hileman’s class. It’s understandable. Instead of being in a classroom that is concerned about a student “passing a standardized test” this is about real and true learning. In 2008, the school district was considering eliminating the “Museum Connections” class. I worked with many families to ensure that this important class was not put aside. It still boggles the mind that an award-winning teacher and class would have been eliminated due to political & jealousy reasons (other DeSoto Schools did not think it was “fair” that only the Monticello Trails Students were able to participate). We wore T-shirts that said “Save Museum Connections” to the School Board Meetings that we spoke at. Thank goodness a compromise was made and other students from the District were able to attend Keil’s class too. My son, Graham found not only a teacher, but a mentor. There was an instant bond with the love of history, love of film and that Keil is an Eagle Scout. (Keil encouraged Graham to get his Eagle Scout). Graham found someone that was “just like him” and could see a career path as well as a life path. Keil spoke at Graham’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor (even though this was during High School and not Middle School). Graham honored him with a Scouting Mentor Pin. Graham continues to consider Keil a mentor. Keil is intuitive and knows when someone needs a little extra attention. He knows how to make each student feel special. Again, during this difficult adolescence time, that is a special gift. It doesn’t matter what award that Keil Hileman is nominated for, he should win. He has IMPACT on students (and their families) for years to come.

Jamey Seaba Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is an outstanding educator. I have known him for 25+ years and his enthusiasm is the same to day as when he started teaching. He is a teacher students never forget. Learning is real and exciting in his classroom. Keil mentors other teachers and is always willing to help other educators. On numerous occasions, Keil has taken his own personal time to speak to my students and share artifacts. He has assisted me with a number of things over the years, to help me improve my instruction. Keil is always teaching in and out of school. I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to work with him over the years.

Julie Abernethy Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is unlike any teacher I ever had. His teaching style was completely different, his attitude, and just the way he communicated with his students. As a middle schooler, you are so vulnerable and impressionable and he was the perfect teacher to lead students. I learned so much by him from movies that he taught through, artifacts and his pure knowledge of everything. If you ever had a question, he knew the answer and if he didn’t, he would research until he found one. He is a great teacher, but an even better person. He genuinely cares about every single one of his students. I only got to have him as a teacher for 3 years, but if I could, I would’ve taken his class every year. It was the highlight of my day getting to go to his class, something I sincerely looked forward to. It speaks volumes when every student you’ve ever had only has positive things to say about you. In my opinion, he is beyond deserving of this award.

Jesa Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman created such an experience for students with the way he developed lessons and made every class an adventure. He made less interested students more engaged with his ability to transform his teachings into a what seemed like a time travel escape to the era of his lesson. Mr. Hileman takes his students to new places with the antique collections his classroom contains. He has made such a big impact in the way students view history and influenced so many students, parents and colleagues in his methods of teaching his students. This award is beyond well deserved to such an incredible person who brings such love and devotion of teaching to his classroom and students.

Kent E Rigdon Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has many qualities as an educator !!!!! His students are eager to learn from him and he keeps the classroom interesting. Every time I'm in his classrooms, my eyes are searching the history that Keil has found , it's amazing !!!! Mr. Heilman is having a major influence on the students and we are in the presence of a outstanding teacher !!!!

Rebecca Hertog Posted 9 months ago

I have had the privilege of being one of Mr. Hileman’s students and a member of the museum rebuild team this past summer. The six of us that were a part of this massive operation led by Mr. Hileman have all discussed at length how he has impacted our lives. Something that we had all come to a consensus on is that while we have all had different experiences with Mr. Hileman there is no doubt we are the individuals we are today because of him, and therefore we knew that he was absolutely deserving of this award. We all contributed to the nomination letter and several members of the team have gone into greater depths in the comments about their personal story about what Mr. Hileman means to them. My memories of Mr. Hileman begin when I was in seventh grade in his museum connections class, his class and what I learned in just the last nine weeks of the school year still stick with me to this day. It was not just the material he taught that has made this information stay with me, but it was about who taught it to me. Without Mr. Hileman the museum is just a room with thousands of artifacts, he is the one that makes them come to life. My next memory with Mr. Hileman happened while I was in the eighth grade and I was assigned an essay about ninjas and samurai. My teacher told me that the person I should talk to to help my research was Mr. Hileman. It was right before the end of the school day when I walked into his classroom and I saw his high school archeology class. After interviewing him about my project I immediately asked him “how do I take this class?”. I was surprised by the way that students could connect and have conversations with Mr. Hileman, I assumed that was what every high school teacher was like. As I have now learned, while I have had amazing teachers throughout high school, the connection that Mr. Hileman has with his students is uniquely his. He will make sure that no student that wants to maintain communication with him is forgotten, just as members of the rebuild team have moved on from high school the have said that he is just one text or email away if they ever need his guidance. My junior year of high school was when my connection with Mr. Hileman and the museum became the strongest because I got to see first hand, day after day that he teaches his students history not just to memorize a curriculum, but to turn us into lifelong learners, a term I have heard him use thousands of times but I believe that no two words could better summarize Mr. Hileman’s mission as an educator. Over the course of the summer when he had the extremely tiring task of rebuilding the entire musume I fully became aware of his passion for education and the students that he teaches. During stressful times he would always tell the group that the kids will make all of the hard work worth it. It is not uncommon for students to have a favorite artifact that has resonated with them regardless of how long or short their time in Mr. Hileman’s class was. The object that I would call my favorite in the museum is the large taxidermy bison head that hands above Mr. Hileman’s desk. Next year I am going off to college with the pursuits becoming a history teacher and there is absolutely no doubt that Hileman is my strongest role model in what a teacher should be. I have told Hileman countless times over the past year that I expect to inherit the bison! Having a piece of the museum in my classroom someday will allow me to always remember some of the best times I have had in school where I learned things that I know will stick with me for life. The rest of the rebuild team and myself know we are not alone in our assurance that Mr. Hileman is one of the most impactful educators we have ever seen and believe that he is completely deserving of this award.

MaryAnn Brown Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman taught all three of my children. He was a wonderful example to them and gave them all a love for history and a good work ethic. They had to work for their grade and they appreciated him so much. He is one of the best influences they could have to look up to.

Paula Posted 9 months ago

Our family has know Keil for 10 years and have never met anyone so enthusiastic for learning and teaching as him. If anyone deserves this honor it is Keil. He is a stand out teacher, but more importantly and stand out person. We are very fortunate to have him as a teacher in our school district and as a citizen in our community. Thank you Keil for being you! I hope you win!

Isabella Holwick Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is an astounding teacher. I have known him for about 3 years now. He has come to my school to show us artifacts like asteroids that came from space to real dinosaur bones. He lets us touch them, feel them, and pass them around. He says that he wishes all classrooms could be like this, where students didn't have to learn from a textbook, video, or lecture and could learn by interacting with the real things that we can see and touch. He has his museum in his classroom at Monticello Trails where he has hundreds of thousands of artifacts and each one he knows the story of. He also has these special desks that the tops come off and you can do an archeology dig. He makes school and learning interactive and fun for everyone. Mr. Hileman is also my Sunday school teacher. He brings in things from history and combines it with faith and the bible stories so we can understand the scripture more. He makes school, church, and life interesting. He cares about every one of his students like they're his children because deep down inside I think that's how he feels about us. I have seen him help many families out in their most time of need. He gives kids great opportunities to learn and experience history. He doesn't just care that you get good grades but he cares that you are doing okay. If he sees you feeling down or hurt he doesn't even think twice to help you. Mr. Hileman has forever changed my life.

Lauren Mallicoat Posted 9 months ago

Last year, my parents got divorced and it was really ugly. Mr Hileman gave me a place to belong in his classroom and always checked if I was ok when I seemed down.

Ava Edwards Posted 9 months ago

Just last year I was picking the classes I wanted to take in 6th grade, and the one class that everyone kept talking about was Museum Connections and how that class was the must have class, so I just had to pick that class. Now I’m going to fast forward to the day I got my schedule. The day I got my schedule I found out that I had gotten Mr. Hileman for 2nd quarter and I was so excited!! Now let’s talk about the first day I had class with him. When I started to walk down the 8th grade hall I could tell with out a doubt which class was Museum Connections because he had these amazing artifacts right outside his door! By the second and third day I had already told my parents a million stories about history. Now I’ve only had Mr. Hileman for a few weeks now but I know that I am going to get to know him a lot more this year, and this class will be #1 on my list every year.

Brenan Riffel Posted 9 months ago

I would simply not be where I am today without Mr. Hileman. I am currently studying at KSU to become a teacher. While I never had Mr. Hileman in Middle School I remember the first day I had the chance to walk into his classroom in high school. His room is so unique and I feel that he really got us to engage and care about what we were learning. Mr. Hileman is also a role model and friend. After I graduated high school I was faced with a time where I was the only one who cared about my dream of becoming a teacher. I didn't have support from home- I was told becoming a teacher was a lazy way out and that teachers were simply overpaid babysitters. My family didn't understand and that reflected in financial, emotional and sometimes physical ways. Mr. Hileman was my cooperating teacher during my field experience while I was still as JCCC. He helped me find my way to university and encouraged me to chase my dream of becoming a teacher. He supported me not only in my development of becoming a teacher but stood beside me during possibly the darkest times of my life. We all struggle- but Mr. Hileman never faltered. He helped me realize that I truly wanted to become a teacher so I can help those kids who don't feel supported at home- or where home is the safest place for them. A teacher is caring, but Mr. Hileman is so much more than that. He is truly genuine and his constant support has kept me on my path to my dreams when I would have rather given up and would have been still trapped in a very dark and un-nurturing place. To simply name Mr. Hileman a LifeChanger would not be enough. I am only one of many lives Mr. Hileman has changed. Mr. Hileman isn't simply a LifeChanger- he's a LivesChanger and LivesSaver. I don't know where I would be today without Mr. Hileman- but I certainly wouldn't be where I am today. Any student to have Mr. Hileman as a teacher has gained a friend, fierce companion, and compassionate mentor. I want to be what Mr. Hileman is to his students.

Bailey Heffernon Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has been not only an amazing teacher to learn from, but an incredible mentor and advocate for his line of work. Mr. Hileman taught me in 6th,8th and 12th grade and is ultimately the teacher who inspired me to become an educator. The way he connects with his students is unlike anyone else I’ve ever met. He manages to see hundreds of students everyday while connecting with each one and making everyone fee like they matter and have a voice. Hileman is one of the most selfless, inspiring, and caring people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Thanks for everything!

Rebecca Kline Posted 9 months ago

I have known Keil for several years and he seems to be constantly growing his teaching skills and continually impacting his students. And, he impacts the people attending community events where he speaks passionately about history, his students, and his lovely family. I am a friend of his mother-in-law and his wife through our membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. He was nominated by our DAR chapter and won the National Award for American History Teacher of the year several years ago. His award was presented at the annual DAR Continental Congress in front of 3000 plus members, and guest dignitaries on Education night. Prairie Rose Chapter and the Kansas Daughters were overjoyed and proud of the young man from Kansas! If only I could have learned history from Keil, I might not have cut class! I highly recommend Keil Hileman for the LifeChanger of the Year award. Rebecca Kline State Vice Regent Kansas Daughters of the American Revolution

Ben Stove Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is an amazing teacher. I have had him two years in middle school for museum connections and now in high school in archeology. I always look forward to his class. His classroom is full of historical items that makes it so interesting. He is an engaging teacher and teaches through his experiences. Thanks for being a great role model for us.

Jason Carle Posted 9 months ago

While Keil Hileman is an amazing educator, he is, more importantly, a great human being. I got to know Keil as his pastor. I am inspired with his ability to connect with people and help them know that they are important. Kids were thrilled when he was teaching Sunday school. He would bring in artifacts to talk about the lesson that day. Keil is one of those persons who has had deep challenges in his life, but through perseverance, faith, and an amazing sense of humor he has met those challenges. He uses what he has learned from hardship not to become tougher, but to become more compassionate toward those around him. I think it is this ability to make connection through compassion that makes him such a great teacher.

Alexa Posny Posted 9 months ago

One name came to mind when I read about The Life Changer of The Year Award -Mr. Keil Hileman. Keil is one of the most effective and highly successful teachers in our state. His caring attitude and professional approach to teaching and learning is extraordinary. He will be remembered by his students throughout their lifetime as the quintessential conveyor of our historical heritage through his work with historical artifacts. That Keil loves what he does is apparent every day as he pours himself into the tasks of finding historical artifacts to add to his classroom museum, and as he involves his students, school and community in the preservation, discovery and study of these artifacts. History comes alive for his students, whether they are young adolescents in the middle school in which he works or as adults in the college classes he teaches. Mr. Hileman is constantly seeking ways to enrich what he teaches by taking field trips to historical sites and engaging guest speakers, some from as far away as China, South Africa, and even a survivor of the Holocaust. Additionally, his willingness to teach cross-curricular units and his ability to tie multiple curricular materials together with considerable planning and communication with his peers has resulted in such lessons on Greek and Roman history with mythology, the Industrial Revolution with Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol, the Civil Rights with African American literature and Martin Luther King Day. . Keil’s licensure in comprehensive social studies, grades 5-12, has served him well, but he hasn’t stopped there. He has earned another 65 hours of graduate credit in educational technology and history. A review of his credentials can only lead you to know that Keil Hileman is one of the most deserving professional candidates for this award. However, It is his heart that makes him stand out. His love for teaching and connecting with his students is unending. Many others have discovered and honored Keil’s exemplary teaching as his awards have been numerous. Keil was the 2004 Kansas Teacher of the Year and 2004 National Teacher of the Year finalist, as well as the 2004 Horace Mann Award recipient. Additionally, he was the 2007 Daughters of the Revolution (DAR) National Outstanding Teacher of American History, and the 2007 Kansas Middle School Civics Educator of the Year. Not only is he one of the best teachers of children and youth, he is one of best exemplars of teaching adult learners. His speaking ability and talent in representing teachers have served to highlight education and educators across our state and throughout the nation. He was a keynote speaker for the Kansas United School Administrators conference in 2004, where he enthralled over 1200 administrators and teachers from across the state. His presentation received a standing ovation and led to more speaking engagements than he could fulfill. He was asked to speak to the New Mexico School Administrators Association and traveled extensively during the summer of 2005 for the United States Department of Education. He has served as a moderator for untold university and future teacher seminars, and has provided countless presentations on a variety of historical topics. While serving as the Kansas Teacher of the Year, Keil made over 150 presentations to student groups, teachers, and community leaders; he continues to travel and make presentations today. Keil is always willing to share his expertise with other teachers. He continues to work with the Kansas Exemplary Educator Network (KEEN), the Kansas Horizon Award recipients—an award for outstanding first year teachers—and continues to provide guidance to the Kansas State Board of Education, as well as the Kansas Legislature as well as community businesses. The impact Keil has had in his school and community, across the state and the nation, as well as with the countless students he has taught, is inspiring. When you see Keil working with his students in class or leading a teacher professional development opportunity, you are amazed at his skill, but not surprised with his success. In his classroom—which is literally a living museum—he models the concepts of democracy and fairness. Rather than learning history through reading textbook materials, Mr. Hileman’s students learn through hands-on, project-based investigations of artifacts and primary sources with historical significance. He is an excellent teacher and his students excel. A former student writes, “He opens our hearts to the possibilities of becoming a life long learner.” Keil is a walking celebration of what is best in education. I can think of no one more deserving of this honor and opportunity. He truly changes lives for the better every day. Alexa Posny Assistant Secretary of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services U.S. Department of Education 2009 – 2012 Commissioner of Education Kansas State Department of Education 2007 – 2009

Cathy Hess Posted 9 months ago

Keil taught each of my three children and I taught each of his three. He was more than willing to bring artifacts to my Kindergarten class and just as comfortable holding the attention of 5 and 6 year olds as he was with muddle snd high school. Community is the word that drew my husband and I to the De Soto school district and if I had to put a face on this community, it would be Keil. Each of my children have different personalities and been positive or negative about various teachers and not always in agreement. But, they all have stories to tell about Keil and his impact and those stories are always positive. In fact, I can't recall a student or parent I’ve met with a negative comment. His energy is staggering and his commitment to kids is straight from the heart.

Andrea Prince Posted 9 months ago

Keil is one of the most amazing teachers that I have come across. His willingness to go the extra mile for his students and for others is amazing. His passion for teaching and engaging with all students (even those that are too young to be his students yet) is compelling evidence that he is a life-changer. We had the opportunity to go on the trip that he led to Washington DC and I can truly say that his interaction with the students was awe-inspiring. His willingness to take lab equipment for his class and his fellow teachers went above and beyond. He truly is a life-changer.

Kelly Brackin Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman goes miles beyond what a teacher is expected to do. Everything he does is for the benefit of his students and he bends over backwards to make sure each and every student gets the help they need. Even if it's not his subject! All through middle school I wasn't even in his class, but somehow I always found myself in his room. I was captivated by his room and all the artifacts he teaches with. Though our conversations weren't longer than five minutes, his words and advice on life and how to view the world shaped who I am today. Keil Hileman is the most genuine person I've ever met and now in my third year of being an official student of his, I can wholeheartedly say he has changed my life for the better.

Shana McMillian Posted 9 months ago

I've known Keil for more than ten years now and he has inspired me to try so many new things. I am that lucky teacher at Lexington Trails Middle School that has been the grateful recipient of both artifacts and knowledge. When I come to him with questions or ideas, he is always ready and willing to help in any way possible. He's helped me add artifacts to my own classroom and my students are always excited to see the new additions. It's amazing to watch the level of interest skyrocket when a child gets to hold a physical object as opposed to just looking at pictures. Much of ancient history is completely foreign to my sixth graders and having something that they can spin around in their hands helps them to understand so much more. I wouldn't be able to give my students this if it wasn't for Keil and his untiring, unwavering passion for teaching others to love learning. Keil has become a great friend and mentor, and I continue to strive to motivate and inspire my students the way that he has. You're my kind of crazy, Keil!

Leigh Ann James Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is an exemplary educator. Each year, he supports 8th grade ELA by doing presentations with artifacts on two topics for two different units: slavery and the Holocaust. This is outside of his normal job duties, but benefits so many students. When a teenager holds a real pair of shackles that were used to bond human children, it changes their perspective, makes the history so real, and impacts them in a way that changes their lives. The content is then real to them and gives them background knowledge that nothing else can provide. I am honored to work with such an outstanding educator and will continue to look for ways that he can bring the past alive to my students.

Dale M. Dennis Posted 9 months ago

It is an honor to support Keil Hileman. He is truly a unique, dedicated teacher. He served as the 2004 Kansas Teacher of the Year and was a National Teacher of the Year finalist. Keil has developed a museum in his classroom which he incorporates into his lesson plans. In my opinion, Keil is the best history teacher in the country. He is passionate about serving his students and helping them on any issue they may encounter. He encourages students to become independent thinkers. Keil is one of the most dedicated, caring teachers I have ever known. Everything centers around helping his students academically and personally.

Terry Shifflett Posted 9 months ago

Keil is absolutely amazing! What he has done for his students and community is incredible. He is also so kind and just an all around cool guy and it is no wonder he is so loved. I have worked with Keil for over 17 years. I have helped him plan Educational trips to Washington D. C. for his students each year. He has been traveling with us since 2002 and has touched many students lives and brought them experiential travel. Over the 17 years he has brought over 600 students to D. C. What is even more special is each trip is like his first. His excitement and passion for history is unparalleled. He makes each trip unique and special to his students. He truly changes students lives!

Sydney Epperson Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has been the best teacher I have ever had. I have only had him as a teacher for a couple of weeks, but it has been the best learning experience. He teaches in a very different way, and I love it! Mr. Hileman teaches us by using artifacts, videos, and telling us stories. But the most important thing is he makes us laugh. He says that laughing while learning helps you to remember what you learned. Since we learn in this way, I always love to come to class, and I know it is a safe environment for everyone. Mr. Hileman is always there for us no matter what you come to him for, he cares about his students so much. If you ask him a question about anything, he goes above and beyond to tell what the answer is, and telling an informational story about it. This helps me learn in a different way, and remember it. Mr. Hileman has been through a lot, but he is still doing what he loves! As I said, I have only had him as a teacher for a little bit of time, but he is already changing my life!

Betsy Morson Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for middle school Social Studies over 20 years ago and I have never met anyone as passionate or effective at teaching since. Most names of teachers I have forgotten over the years but no one forgets Mr. Hileman. When I was in his class, the school was new and I believe he had just started teaching in the district. He had yet to build his classroom museum as it is today, but his class was innovative and exciting nonetheless with archeological digs and castle-building. The thing about Mr. Hileman that really stands out is that he truly sees his students. He listens to his students and is genuinely interested in what they think. You never wanted to act out in his classroom and not for fear of discipline, but fear of losing the respect of Mr. Hileman. He was also a great basketball coach, always focused on team building and positivity. I would hope that kids everywhere would get to have a teacher at least once that is comparable to Mr. Hileman but I'm sure it's quite rare. I am happy to know that my nieces and nephews growing up in this school system with have the opportunity to be taught by this absolutely remarkable human being.

Jean Ballew Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is one of my favorite teachers ever! Not that he was my teacher, but as a fellow educator, I appreciate him so much. Never have I seen anyone who can make history come alive the way he can. He goes so far above and beyond the typical teacher tasks. He motivates his students to learn more than they ever thought they wanted to. And to be so engaged that it attracts others to want to know. Isn't that one of the best things a teacher can ever do? Make people WANT TO KNOW.

Madison Willoughby Posted 9 months ago

When I was going through a deep depression a couple years ago, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life or what direction it was headed, Mr. Hileman helped me through every step of the way. Before making a big move 3 hours away from my family 3 years ago, he came to my going away party and I remember him telling me that this was just the beginning. And that I’m going to do good things in life. Thank you Keil Hileman for always being there for me, for helping me through my depression, for teaching some awesome stuff, and being such a great role model. I appreciate all that you have done for me the past 10+ years. You changed my life and I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for having such a great teacher making such a positive impact on my life.

Stacey Sprecker Posted 9 months ago

I have known Keil for over two decades. When I was in college preparing to be a teacher he graciously offered to let me observe his classes and gave me advice and encouragement. I was able to see the kind of teacher I hoped to become. He inspired me to be more than just a teacher. He showed me the unique and amazing privilege a teacher can have to truly change the lives of their students. The impact he has had on his students, community and school are far reaching and impossible to quantify. He is so deserving of this award.

Sherry Bowlin Posted 9 months ago

One of the most dynamic and supportive persons I’ve ever met. An inspiration to those that he teaches and encourages. His life has been filled with many adversities and he just keeps going on with that wonderful smile and gracious attitude. Also is a great speaker on his favorite subjects, history and family

Jessica McGirr Posted 9 months ago

From the moment I met Keil Hileman, I knew I was in good hands. I was lucky enough to get into his class in sixth grade and continue taking his classes all through middle school. To say the least, middle school was absolute hell for me. I was diagnosed with depressive bipolar disorder in seventh grade and I couldn't seem to get a grip on reality. Hileman was the only person that ever pulled me back to reality, that shined just enough light on those really dark days. He always had a way of knowing when I was having a harder day than usual and always reminded that even if I didn't want to talk, he would still be there when I was ready to. I wouldn't have made it through my middle school years if it wasn't for the constant support and positivity that Hileman brought to my life. He was always rooting for me and always pushing me to be the best that I could. My freshman year of high school my parents separated, I switched high schools at semester and my dad left me. Through all of it, Hileman was the one constant person, the one that didn't turn his back on me and still pushed me to succeed. Though I was no longer a student, it didn't stop him from dedicating his time to me and helping me through this dark time in my life. I knew I could always count on him being there whenever I needed and he was. It didn't matter what he had going on or how busy his schedule was, he found the time for me and devoted his full attention to me. Throughout my high school career, we continued to keep in touch. He was there for tutoring, life advice and everything else in between. I'm now a junior in college and Keil is still rooting for me back in KC. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for Keil always pushing me to strive for the absolute best and nothing less. Keil is the educator you pray to God your kids have. It's not every day that you find an educator who is so dedicated to your child, he'd drop anything to be there for them. He gives 110% each and every day to these students; reminding them that they are not alone, that they are loved and protected and he will always, always support them. Mr. Hileman, Thank you for always pushing me to try harder, for not giving up on me and for always believing in me. I wouldn't have made it this far without you.

George speed Posted 9 months ago

I’m a former student of Mr.Hileman from 5years ago and I took his class my junior year because it sounded interesting and something totally different. When I arrived to his class the first day it was wild to see the different stuff he had around his room that just caught my eye and right then and there I was hooked. Then once he started teaching us about different things that happened in the past which I hadn’t learned most of that in history and the stuff he taught us was from different times in our history that I just found fascinating to be able to learn the knowledge he has is amazing. But there is just something about the way he teaches that brings people in because he just treats you like a human and he doesn’t talk down to you or treats anyone different and that’s a big thing that I like about him. Once I graduated from high school I stayed in touch with him because I enjoyed helping him when ever he had a project or just need help moving his things and I was always there no matter what and I have been totally fine with giving up my summers to help because it has been totally worth it. Then the beginning of 2018 my dad had found out he had cancer and throw the whole family in a pit because no one likes to hear that word but once my dad started to go through surgery and then started going through with radiation it was a really hard time to see him go through with that. Once I had told Hileman what was going on with my dad he was there for my family and me if when he had his own family to take care of and that really opened my mind and realized he was always there to help people no matter what and it was nice to have him to talk to while I was going through with that. But he is a great teacher and does incredible things and I don’t know another teacher like him and no matter what when people ask me about him I usually tell them to go watch the nbc video about him because it shows them a little bit of what he does as a teacher. https://www.nbcnews.com/leftfield/video/the-kansas-teacher-who-buries-treasure-in-every-desk-1168184899758

Paige Roth Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is one of the best teachers I have ever had, and I have had him for 3 weeks. The museum really is his he created the museum and takes pride in it, but is disappointed that other schools don't have the same opportunity to teach their students with the tools and artifacts we have. But he is changing that he is helping create an environment in other schools around us donating artifacts and time teaching the students there about the artifacts and the history about them. He is one of the most interesting humans I know. The fact that he survived a brain tumor and shattered bones, and was never expected to walk again but is walking is incredible. He truly cares deeply for every student in his class. He will do anything for anyone and everyone. He has done so much to cheer up kids and distracted from things happening at home. He is so humorous he makes me laugh everyday. The video clips and things we get to see are so extra making the class truly unique. He doesn't give out home work he tells you to go your own path and find what you want to learn more about. Each week is a new topic! There is so much to learn but only 9 weeks to do it. So every moment of the class is learning something amazing. Mr. Hileman doesn't want you to learn the stuff then cram it all into your brain then puke it all out onto a test then forget it. He wants you to remember the class turning the final exam into a final project allowing you to go your own way be creative. We can't forget the things we learn in his class because we have to know the past to shape our future. Mr. Hileman is such a positive class with him as a person AND the museum it's a great time.He turns a question or a story into an adventure. Mr. Keil Hileman is truly a life changer he has changed so many lives for the better, if he wins the award or not deserves so much thanks and recognition.

Melissa Schroeder Posted 9 months ago

I am the mom of two of Mr. Hileman’s former students. My children both came home day after day night after night talking about this incredible educator while in middle school. Mr. Hileman was able to both inspire my children, as well as to capture their attention. My children trust Mr. Hileman and admire him. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend one of Mr. Hileman’s yearly trips to Washington DC. I have been to DC numerous times, however, what I experienced with this amazing man was a game changer. The 40 plus middle schoolers that attended the trip hung on his every word. He was able to teach the children in a way I had never experienced. His knowledge seems endless and his delivery is nothing short of spectacular. There is no doubt this man has changed the lives, in some way, of every single student he has come into contact. Mr. Hileman has such a unique ability to reach children. His museum is astounding and a legacy that must continue to reach students for generations to come. Mr. Hileman is a life changer and I cannot think of a more worthy recipient.

Lindsey Ainsworth Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for 2 years in middle school. At that point in time, I didn’t have the best home life and most days his class was the only thing I looked forward to. He was always so fun & goofy and his museum was a safe, comfortable place that made me forget about my issues at home. Being in his class was truly a one of a kind amazing & unforgettable learning experience, the artifacts he shows are incredible and even sometimes a bit shocking. I recently got to reconnect with him when he came to speak at a college in my hometown, he remembered me and I was delighted to see he was still the same awesome, passionate, fun teacher I remember him being. He‘s a fantastic educator who loves what he does and it shows. The joy & light that Mr. Hileman brings to this world is indescribable and I’m very lucky to have had him as a teacher.

Kathleen Bock Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is an amazing teacher and awesome human being. I first met Mr. Hileman when my sons were in middle school, but had heard about him for many years before that through my father-in-law. Both my sons took his Museum Connections class and developed a love of history because of him. James is now majoring in History in college and plans to become a teacher. Walking into his classroom/museum, one is awestruck with the variety of artifacts and displays. I'm amazed by his vast knowledge of history and so enjoy talking to him and hearing his stories. We had the opportunity to visit Washington DC on a school trip that he sponsored. It was such a memorable trip, filled with history, stories, and memories we will cherish for a lifetime. My sons were selected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. What an huge honor it was for them and it was made possible because of Mr. Hileman. In high school, my sons were fortunate enough to take Archeology from Mr. Hileman and help carry on the history legacy. He truly cares about everyone and I'm honored to call him my friend. He is a "LifeChanger" in every sense of the word.

Jenn Holthaus Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is an amazing, caring, smart, funny, patient, and a dedicated teacher. I always looked forward to his class. Middle school can be tough to navigate through but I was always in good hands with Mr.Hileman. I’m forever grateful for him.

Nathan Sheehan Posted 9 months ago

You are quite honestly not only one of my favorite teachers that has ever taught me of all time, but also the one that us the most inspiring. Had it not been for you, I might never have been able to make it through middle school, and you took me on one of my favorite trips of all time. Thank you for teaching me about history, and making it fun and exciting to learn for us middle schoolers.

Caydia Nay Posted 9 months ago

I had Mr. Hileman for 2 years when I was a junior and senior in high school. That was 4 years ago. I was going through a tough time with my family during a majority of his class. He knew what was going on and made every effort to include me in every single discuss, presentation, and special project to fuel my love for history and archeology. I even managed to convince the school to allow me to be his PA. I was the first, I think, and it was amazing to be able to help with his other classes and plan lessons with Mr. Hileman. He has a way of bringing together people from all different niches, and empowering them to communicate and be supportive towards one another. I became friends with people I never thought I would have spoken to a day in my life. And that's what he does. He provides an environment were passion and creativity are brought to life and thrive with ever student that steps into his museum. He has an unconventional way of teaching, but in this day and age were textbooks are basically our only tools, he moves beyond them to bring new life to his classroom and a renewed love of learning for many students.

Amy Hanna Posted 9 months ago

Keil was a colleague of mine for 10 years. His bond with students is on a level of no one else. He is unforgettable for his dedication to students. His “overtime” is uncountable. He is there for every child that needs him and he’s able to seek out the students who need the extra love and support. As a colleague he would do anything to help. You don’t have to ask. He is genuinely excited to hear what is going on in your class and find ways to help the lesson with his amazing artifacts. Even after I left that school he has reached out and asked how things are going and reminds you he is always there for anything life throws at you. He is huge on keeping those human connections alive, something the world is currently lacking. He is an amazing person on so many levels to students, colleagues and parents. No one can forget the impact he has had on their lives. ...Oh and he also has a passion for history and artifacts... but even with the 80,000+ artifacts, I think he cares more about his teachers and students. That says a lot. He teaches for the correct reasons and has wrapped his amazing heart around this profession for decades.

Courtney Liotta Posted 9 months ago

Wow. Where to start. I was a student of Mr. Hileman’s in the early days of the museum. Even then, you knew the museum and Mr. Hileman was special. It was a combination of his passion to teach and his ability to teach with real life stories and artifacts that captured the attention of many. And in room of middle schoolers that can be hard to do. What was even more special is, as a student you helped build and shape the museum. Things I donated are still there today and their stories are still being told. You got to be a part of the greater good too. This teacher and this classroom will never be forgotten. And I couldn’t think of someone more likely to be called a life changer.

Cherie Daly Posted 9 months ago

I have known Keil all of his life. He was raised in the OP Presbyterian church, as was I. Even though he is quite a bit younger than I am! Keil was always a natural leader and a very open and welcoming person. He served the church in many ways through the years and was very involved. Session, Elder, Youth Group member, Sunday school teacher, choir, storyteller, historian, - he knew everyone and had plenty of hugs to go around. Keil was an outstanding Sunday school teacher. The kids loved him because he made the classes fun. He takes the subject he is teaching seriously but he doesn't take himself seriously. He made the kids want to listen and to learn. Every child felt that they were special and they would be listened too. Keil was loved by the adults too and many of the "greatest generation" entrusted him with their treasures when it was time for them to downsize because they always knew he would continue to treasure them and keep the stories and memories alive for future generations.

Delia Pannell Posted 9 months ago

I was new last year to the school he teaches at, he instantly made me feel welcome. I later switched to his class, and will never regret switching. I loved doing the dig, and watching videos, and doing the final project. I’ve made some many laughs in his class that i needed to have, I know a lot of things thanks to the way he chooses to teach his classes. He’s very welcoming and fun to have talks with in the hallway. He will always remain one of my favorite teachers.

Carla Facinelli Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has taught all 3 of my children. My son Tony was a teacher's aide for him at Mill Creek Middle School. He not only mentored my son, but he taught him to respect education, himself and others. He is a truly remarkable teacher that is also well known throughout the community, as well as in the school district. I cannot think of a more deserving teacher.

Pamela Posted 9 months ago

There are no words that can fully explain what a truly amazing person Keil is. I have known him for about 10 years now. His outstanding Wife and children are also great examples of how much he has impacted our life personally and the community. We just love there family.

Pam Lollar Posted 9 months ago

Having met Mr Hileman many years ago when my oldest daughter began 6th grade I was immediately taken by his enthusiasm at teaching and how every student bonded with him so much! Thru the years both my daughters spent a great deal of time in his social studies and museum connections class. They even met some wonderful people that had first hand knowledge of WWII and others it was as if they reached out and touched history. His jovial demeanor and his passion at bringing history to life not only impacted my daughters but myself as well! Now I search for history information ! Mr Hileman is a teacher everyone needs to have !

Morris & Kay Speed Posted 9 months ago

Our son was a student of Mr. Hileman in middle school almost ten years ago and is now a frequent volunteer and member of the museum restoration team. Being a student of Mr. Hileman was a pivotal moment in our son’s schooling and personal life. Without telling our Son’s story of his middle and high school years (that is his story to tell) I can say that Mr. Hileman has been and continues to be one of the best role models in his life. Mr. Hileman opened up the greater world outside of Kansas to our son. His teaching also taught our son about the terrible suffering of people in the history of our world, in particular, in America’s past. Our son experienced bullying in middle and high school and as an adult has experienced “in his face” racism towards him. I believe that, in part, our son was able to survive these moments in his life, because of the compassion Mr. Hileman taught his students toward those who had been treated unfairly in the past. In particular, teaching his students the atrocities that happened during the Holocaust and slavery in America. We think it was the first time a teacher had explained honestly and in more detail what had been done to people because of hatred and stupidity. Then he taught them how they, his students, should never perpetuate that hatred of others as they walked through their lives. I think he got this message of tolerance and acceptance through to his students by showing his own kindness, caring and acceptance to all of his students, not just the best or the brightest as is often the case in our schools. Our son has developed a deep interest of artifacts and what story each has to tell, which in turn developed into a interest in history. Of utmost importance to us as parents, however, has been the continued interest and support Mr. Hileman has shown our son over almost 10 years. Our son jumps at any chance he has to volunteer for Mr. Hileman’s projects involving his classrooms, or museums. My son receives so much in return for helping Mr. Hileman; respect for himself because he can be involved in helping other students learn from Mr. Hileman, and feelings of self esteem because Mr.Hileman truly appreciates his help. I have spoken to the parents of many students who were in a class of Mr. Hileman’s. The common thread among them, whether their child still communicates and volunteers with him, or they only knew him during the class, is that Mr. Hileman had a large positive impact on their students. I wish all teachers could more be like Mr. Hileman. He seems to realize that as important as teaching his students the topic of the class, it is perhaps equally as important to show respect and interest in each and every student.

Shelly Souders Posted 9 months ago

Once you've seen Keil present on ANY subject, you leave the room not only more informed but entertained, as well. Keil has presented at our Veteran's Day assembly for the past three years. He presented with no scripts. Everything was told from his thorough understanding of the subject. He came armed with artifacts to bring his stories to life. Nothing gets the attention of an elementary student like a giant American flag that, when unfurled, completely filled our gym. He gave our 5th graders a real treat by asking for their assistance in unfurling the flag. From Kindergarteners to fifth graders, every student was captivated by his words and his giant flag. Even the Veterans in the audience commented on how much they had learned from Keil's presentation...and some of these gentlemen were in their 90s! He is passionate about teaching EVERYONE, regardless of age, something about history.

Macy Brunner Posted 9 months ago

I have only had Mr. Hileman or Keil Hileman for a few weeks of the second quarter so far but even though it hasn't been that long I am enjoying the class so much. It makes me sad that not everyone in the world gets a teacher as kind, generous and awesome as Mr. Hileman. I mean like really he takes his whole summer and a lot of his time to make a fun and amazingly cool environment that all kids want to be in. Mr. Hileman makes our whole class laugh. A few weeks ago he made me laugh so hard I cried. He makes the class fun and different and he makes sure we get something out of everything. Like if someone in our class ask a simple question he turns it into an interesting and Informational story with so many facts in it. He does everything different compared to ether teachers he makes everything fun and entertaining. Mr. Hileman has been threw a lot but that wont stop Mr. Hileman from making kids happy and making their day every day. Mr. Hileman should win this award for being the most amazing, dedicated and caring teacher in the whole wide world.

Austin Atchison Posted 9 months ago

I met Hr. Hileman 17 years ago. I was in 5th grade and came to tour his classroom museum. I was overwhelmed and mesmerized all at the same time. The student projects were amazing! The artifacts were shocking! I am 27 years old now and still remember it. I had Museum Connections all three years of middle school. I have worked on so many different museum moves and projects I can't list them all here. I can tell you how much Mr. Hileman has changed my life. The day I really connected with Mr. Hileman was the my mom tried to harm herself. My father took my younger brothers and sisters to work. My aunt was coming over to take my Mom to the hospital. I was in 8th grade and I had to stay with my Mom until my aunt came and got her. Mr. HIleman came and picked me up. We out to eat and then he took me to a movie. We went to his house, hung out, walked the dogs. He fed me dinner and when my dad called, Mr. Hileman took me home. My connection to Mr. Hileman starts long before this day. He had been asked to present at the Eisenhower Presidential Museum. He selected me and 5 other students to dress up in World War II uniforms and hold up artifacts during his speech. After the speech we sat at tables and shared the artifacts with the entire Abilene school district Grades K-12. Mr. Hileman pulled some strings to get me a scholarship to the US Space and Rocket Camp at Huntsville Alabama. He had been asked to go there and teach.. so he used his power to bring three of us with him. Three of us got to go and have an amazing time at space camp because he worked his butt off to make it all come together. A Giant church asked him to set up a cool Veterans day presentation. He asked three of us to join him. We set up a huge display of world war II artifacts, ate dinner with the veterans and listened to him speak. The way that he speaks isn't normal. It is not boring or notecards. He brings real world artifacts and stories. He uses real testimony from people and brings history to life with his emotion and passion. You can feel the actual connections between what he is talking about and the artifacts. Mr. HIleman rarely sits down. He teaches cool summer classes at Johnson county community college each year. He teaches archaeology, egyptology, creative writing, castle building, NASA classes, Rocket Classes, Model Classes and many many more. I was honored to work next to him in all of these classes from 6th grade till 11th Grade. Mr. Hileman got a special status so we could take all of these classes for free. He changed my summers for the better each year. He gave me a purpose and something to look forward too. When i go work with Mr. Hileman, I never knew where I was going to go or what amazing adventure would be next. We drove across missouri almost to Iowa, to pick up a rare brass cash register. It had just snowed 4-6 inches the day before. During the trip north the snow just got deeper and deeper. We were not sure we could make the trip. It was a real adventure. We made the trip and brought the register back to our museum. I cant tell you how many "missions" i have been on with Mr. H. Each one is a cherished memory. He asked me to help bring artifacts to a college class he was teaching at UMKC. Turns he co taught the class with his mother. It was a rare treat to see the "Judy & Keil" show. He is very much like his mother. Mr. Hileman and his Mom both shared the same passion for teaching. She was so kind and found me a cool metal UMKC lanyard. I wanted to go on the Washington DC trip. Mr. H worked with the company found a way to get me a scholarship. It was a truly amazing thing see our nation's capital. There is no way i would have been able to go without him. He also did the same thing for both of my brothers. I have helped Mr. HIleman move and rebuild our museum over 5 times. The museum is truely and living thing. It is constantly changing and growing. It adapts almost as quickly as Mr. HIleman. When he created the brand new Archeology courses, He also invented and designed custom dig tables. This allows students to do simulated archeological digs. I helped move and set up the dig tables. I was there working next to him when we mixed and poured all of the moon play sand, fish tank gravel and sand box sand. It was an amazing time to see him create and invent. At the same time... inspire people. I wish other teachers would just put a little more effort into what they teach. I wish the would make each lesson unique. Honestly, They just don't want to take the time to do more. Mr. Hileman gives so much of his time. He give so much of himself every day to the students he teachers. I believe Mr. Hileman is definitely a life changing person. There is no doubt in my mind. What he is willing to do for people is unlimited and amazing. It does not matter if you have known him for 17 years or 17 minutes. He is there for you. He changes everyone and everything he touches. He has changed my life, my school and my community.

Mr. Brian Forbes Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is a teacher and mentor to students of all ages. As a friend and co-worker, I have witnessed his efforts to reach out and make personal connections with students that go beyond just the subject matter in his classroom. While he teaches students to appreciate the history and the complexities of human accomplishments, he strives to instill and even more important lesson in each student he encounters, that they themselves have valuable history and contribution yet to come. He values students as respected human beings and gives them the attention and dedication that goes beyond the normal school day. I have personally witnessed Mr. Hileman on several occasions tutoring 6th graders before school in subjects he doesn't even teach. He stays after school to talk with 8th graders about personal issues when they feel that they have no one else to turn to. High school students of ll ages make a point to visit and even come to return the favor during the summer months to show their appreciation for everything he has done for them in the past. And finally, I would be amiss to not mention the friendliness and professional interactions we have had together over the last 6 1/2 years. He has been a confidant, a colleague, a source of inspiration, and a true friend. Whether he wins this award or not, I have no doubt that Mr. Hileman will continue to prove to himself and others that his impact on our community is ongoing and long lasting. Thank you Keil for everything!

Trisha Parker Posted 9 months ago

It is our profound pleasure to recommend Keil Hileman for the Life Changer Prize. We cannot think of a teacher who is more deserving of this award. We have been very fortunate that our children have been blessed with many outstanding teachers, but Mr. Hileman stands out even in that exceptional group of educators. Two of our children have had the privilege of taking Mr. Hileman’s Museum Connections class at Monticello Trails Middle School. Our oldest son, Aidan, took his class in both seventh and eighth grade and frequently came home with anecdotes about things he had learned in class that day and declared Mr. Hileman his favorite teacher. This comes from a child who struggles in school and would usually rather talk about anything other than school. He says Mr. Hileman has a great sense of humor that made it fun to learn. Our eighth grader, Chase, is currently in his class and insists it is his favorite. He says Mr. Hileman makes it fun to learn about “olden times.” We’ve visited Mr. Hileman’s museum classroom and it’s easy to see why students enjoy his class. In addition to the extensive array of artifacts that cover his classroom, Mr. Hileman brings the subject matter to life with stories and fun, hands-on activities, including archeological digs in the classroom, rather than just presenting facts. We also had the pleasure of working with Mr. Hileman beyond his Museum Connections class. Aidan has high functioning autism and ADHD, which makes school a struggle for him, especially math. During seventh grade, we decided to hire a tutor. Mr. Hileman was highly recommended to us by Aidan’s math teacher. Even though he was already tutoring several students and his schedule was full, he found a way to work us in and tutored Aidan three times a week. This was one of the best decisions we could have made regarding our son’s education. Aidan looked forward to his days when he got to work with Mr. Hileman after school and began to struggle less with his math homework. His stress and anxiety around math was noticeably reduced. He said that Mr. Hileman explained things in a way that made it easier for him to understand. Mr. Hileman is now working with our son Chase whenever he needs a little extra support and explanations. Mr. Hileman is a “life changer” for our family. On many occasions, Mr. Hileman came to our home to work with Aidan and Chase, which gave us the opportunity to be in the background and observe their interactions. We were immediately impressed with how Mr. Hileman spoke to them and how he approached helping him through difficult concepts. He never spoke down to them or lectured him. He never became frustrated with Aidan or Chase when he had to repeat instructions or explain things multiple times. Aidan has a hard time staying focused for extended periods of time but Mr. Hileman was always very patient and would gently steer him back on track. He was always very positive with them and reassured them that it was okay if he didn’t understand something. He would walk Aidan through the concepts as many times as needed and give him tricks he could use to remember the required steps. He even learned about Aidan’s interests and used them to create incentives to motivate Aidan to work harder and stay on task. Mr. Hileman took the initiative, with our permission, to communicate directly with Chase and Aidan’s math teachers to ensure he was completing all their assignments and identify where they needed help most. When Aidan needed help in other subjects, Mr. Hileman was always willing to assist. While Aidan has now moved on to high school, Mr. Hileman has offered to continue to tutor him for as long as we need it. Chases still works with him several times each week. The benefits we received from working with Mr. Hileman extended well beyond academics. Aidan went through a particularly difficult time during seventh grade that caused him to become very stressed and anxious at school. Because much of his stress stemmed from conflicts with his special education teacher, Aidan began to shut down and became distrustful of many of his teachers. Mr. Hileman became an adult Aidan could trust and with whom he felt comfortable and safe. Mr. Hileman provided guidance and compassion during this time, assuring Aidan that he could always come to him with any problem, whether school related or not. As parents of a special needs child, it was invaluable to us to know there was someone at school who cared about Aidan and was watching out for him, especially since it was clear he was not receiving the support he should have been receiving from his special education team. At times, this stress caused Aidan to act out in ways that were disrespectful of Mr. Hileman. While we wouldn’t have blamed him if he had decided not to tutor Aidan anymore, he approached Aidan with kindness and compassion. Rather than get angry or allow Aidan to simply use his struggles and difficulties as an excuse for his behavior, he would sit down with Aidan and have a direct, honest conversation about his behavior and how it affects others in a very gentle, non-threatening way, often using stories of personal experiences to relate to Aidan and help him understand better ways to handle those types of situations. He has been blessed with a unique ability to relate to his students on a level that they can understand and appreciate. If he ever tires of teaching his current curriculum, Mr. Hileman would make an exceptional special education teacher. He truly loves all of his students as if they were his own children. In many ways… I guess they are his children each day. When our sixth grader prepared to start middle school two years ago, Mr. Hileman told him that he could come to him at any time if he had any problems, even if he wasn’t enrolled in his class. This helped not only Chase’s anxiety level as he started a new school, but ours as well. We were recently presented with an opportunity to relocate to an area where we have long discussed living. Chase said he absolutely refused to leave his school because he was finally getting his turn to be in Mr. Hileman’s class. Even our youngest, who is only in fourth grade, is already looking forward to middle school so he can also have Mr. Hileman as his teacher. For some people, a job is just a job. For a lucky few, their job is their passion. Mr. Hileman definitely falls into the second category. I would often visit with Mr. Hileman after Aidan’s tutoring sessions and he would tell me about new artifacts he had acquired for his museum. You could see how excited he was to show his students these latest acquisitions that would help bring history to life for them. He went well beyond simply being our child’s teacher or tutor. He became a mentor and confidant to Aidan and a friend to us. Words simply don’t do justice in describing the impact Mr. Hileman had on our son and our family. It’s clear that he invests in all his students and does whatever he can to help them succeed and reach their full potential. In closing, it is our sincere belief that there is no teacher more deserving of this prestigious honor than Mr. Hileman. I hear from other mothers and families every week about how he impacts their children as well. He truly embodies all the characteristics of a truly exceptional educator and has changed the lives of not just our children, but countless other students, teachers and communities. Sincerely, Kevin and Trisha Parker & Sons Aidan, Chase and Nick

Glenn Wiebe Posted 9 months ago

I am writing in support of Keil Hileman, nominated for the National Life Changer Award. I have known Keil for almost ten years and have had the opportunity to watch him interact with students, fellow teachers, and his local community. I admire Keil tremendously for his tireless efforts to protect, display, and share history in his classroom, as a presenter, and as a constant learner. Keil’s approach to teaching - whether traditional students, fellow teachers, or the general public - is to engage the learner to become a collaborator in the process. In the classroom, he uses innovative activities such as archeology digs to help students connect with content and to learn critical thinking and communication skills. Outside the classroom, Keil is incredibly generous with his time, sharing successful strategies and ideas with other educators. His goal is simple - turn students of history into student historians. This involves asking to kids to think beyond the past and their specific local situations. “The world is a bigger place than here and now,” he will tell his students. “Think globally. Think of how the world should be and use that to make it a better place.” But as I’ve watched Keil interact with his students; I’ve seen more than just a competent and engaging teacher. He truly cares for his students, regularly working to find ways to personally connect with them and their families, is genuinely open to listening to their ideas, and is constantly striving to create personalized learning opportunities. Though Keil’s extensive collection of thousands of artifacts and primary sources is his obvious claim to fame, his real talent lies in how he gets kids to use those artifacts in ways that go beyond simply memorization. During my time in his classroom, I often hear students commenting to one another - “This is hard.” “Yeah . . . but it’s so fun.” This perfect storm of engagement and learning is the dream for every teacher and it’s something that I witness every time I see Keil working with his students, whether they are middle school age and fellow educators. Keil sees his role as a true calling in his life. So he teaches his students to strive for excellence, to love learning, and to respect each other; and he teaches the rest of us to give our best for our students, to wear a smile, to have faith, and to remember that while we may never know the true impact we have on our students doesn’t excuse us from always doing our best. With complete confidence, Glenn Wiebe

Kendra Preston Posted 9 months ago

I am writing on behalf of one of the most inspirational educators I have ever had the privilege of working with, Mr. Keil Hileman. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Hileman the fall of 2011 when I began my teaching career at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas. My introduction to Hileman’s teaching style was unlike anything I had ever experienced because I was introduced to Hileman’s room before meeting him. Unlike most teachers, Hileman’s room is full of out of the box resources; some examples include antique stoves, instruments, costumes, tribal masks, model airplanes, and armor. After seeing his room, I knew why he was known as the “man with the museum”. The centerpiece of his classroom are the dig tables he personaly designed that allow students to be immersed in their learning. Needless to say, I was eager to meet the man behind the room. After my first conversation with Hileman I realized that he was an educator who was dedicated to making a difference in the lives of every student. Winning Kansas Teacher of the Year and serving as a Teacher Ambassador Fellow with the US DOE became opportunities to help ignite a fire in other educators. Even with all of his accolades he was willing to sit and collaborate with me regularly. You could never tell from how down to earth he is with everyone, that he has earned so many recognitions. Mr. Hileman is always willing to help anyone at any time. He explained how I could implement artifacts into my curriculum to help bring my content to life. For example, I taught a unit on slavery and instead of just talking about it with my students, they had the opportunity to hold slave shackles, trade beads, and jewelry. Throughout this lesson the emotion was palpable and the students walked away with a deeper understanding and respect than I ever dreamed possible. I have students who are now in college and remember the artifacts because it made such an impression on their heart. Hileman’s gift and unique perspective allows all students to thrive while simultaneously broadening their horizons. His class has a waiting list every year because everyone wants to be immersed in the living museum. Students of all abilities, background, and experiences are able to excel in the environment he has worked diligently to cultivate. Unlike most teachers, he has seen many of our students are various points in their academic career. He uses sick and personal days to take artifacts into various elementary classrooms across our area. He has helped jumpstart small museum collections in four elementary schools. Students at Monticello Trails are able to have him as a teacher from sixth-through-eighth grade, and again in high school for Archeology I and II. Throughout these various experiences he is able to teach students about what it means to be a global citizen. Rather than learning about differences, he finds ways to highlight the commonalities to bridge religions, political perspectives, and centuries. He is working hard to make sure our students are ready to understand, live and support the world they live in. While every teacher impacts the lives of students, Hileman is truly a rarity in the teaching community. He uses his experiences and connections to better the lives of his students on a daily basis, while simultaneously igniting a passion in educators and community members. He is a Life Changer. His innovative style is what separates him from the rest, and is the reason why is an exceptional teacher and worthy of this honor. Sincerely, Mrs. Kendra Preston English Language Arts Monticello Trails Middle School

Chris Lowe Posted 9 months ago

I have had the pleasure to know Mr. Hileman in many different situations over the past 10 years or so. I first met Mr. Hileman when I was an assistant principal at Monticello Trails Middle School. I had the pleasure of sitting in on several classes where Mr. Hileman engaged students with hands-on learning activities and artifacts from the past. Mr. Hileman is engaged with the community as well beyond his school day. Mr. Hileman has presented to both my sons and daughters scout troops. Mr. Hileman was able to engage and excite the minds of my young children with his engaging personality and multitude of artifacts. When Mr. Hileman presents a lesson or artifact, he is intentional with his questioning to get students thinking. Mr. Hileman has also presented several times at my current elementary school. After each presentation, teachers and parents have shared how impressed they were with his information, artifacts, and ability to present to 560 elementary students. In a few years my children will be attending MTMS and I hope they have the opportunity to take one of his courses. I really can’t put into words the excitement and energy you get when working with Mr. Hileman.

Quin Showalter Posted 9 months ago

I am so pleased that I have the opportunity to brag on Keil Hileman, my colleague, my coworker, and my friend. When I first met Keil, he was that crazy history teacher down the hall, who had a million artifacts and always asked me if there was anything he could do, or anything he could provide to make my science lessons more hands-on. I took him up on that offer a couple of times: once when we dressed as pioneers for Kansas History Day, and once when I was teaching about viruses and the history of germ theory and he provided some medical artifacts. Once I spent some time teaching some students that I shared with Keil, I realized what an incredible impact he has on his students. Sue Monk Kidd has said, "Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.” Keil uses powerful and historically accurate "stories" to catch and keep students' attention, to help them think about the world from new points of view, and ultimately, to better understand themselves. I've never seen students so riveted on an adult who is speaking to them. Keil adds interest and connection to his stories with video clips, historical artifacts, visuals, demonstrations, and hands-on experiences, so students can hear, feel, and see history right in front of their eyes. Now that Keil isn't down the hall anymore, he's now my "go-to" guest speaker anytime I need to get my students energized about learning. When they are feeling a little "blah" about school, Keil can get them hooked on a new idea or concept, and they can't wait to tell their friends, teachers, and parents what they learned from Mr. Hileman! He recently helped me bring a vague idea for an all-day seminar about the History of Medicine to life with exciting tales of ancient medical practices and civil war medicine. My students learned about early detection of diabetes, the first brain surgeries, and even the plague and germ theory. Keil is a wealth of knowledge, and he knows how to use stories to get students engaged. You only have to step into his classroom for a moment to experience the excitement for learning that his students feel every day!

Kendra Preston Posted 9 months ago

I am writing on behalf of one of the most inspirational educators I have ever had the privilege of working with, Mr. Keil Hileman. I had the honor of meeting Mr. Hileman the fall of 2011 when I began my teaching career at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee, Kansas. My introduction to Hileman’s teaching style was unlike anything I had ever experienced because I was introduced to Hileman’s room before meeting him. Unlike most teachers, Hileman’s room is full of out of the box resources; some examples include antique stoves, instruments, costumes, tribal masks, model airplanes, and armor. After seeing his room, I knew why he was known as the “man with the museum”. The centerpiece of his classroom are the dig tables he personaly designed that allow students to be immersed in their learning. Needless to say, I was eager to meet the man behind the room. After my first conversation with Hileman I realized that he was an educator who was dedicated to making a difference in the lives of every student. Winning Kansas Teacher of the Year and serving as a Teacher Ambassador Fellow with the US DOE became opportunities to help ignite a fire in other educators. Even with all of his accolades he was willing to sit and collaborate with me regularly. You could never tell from how down to earth he is with everyone, that he has earned so many recognitions. Mr. Hileman is always willing to help anyone at any time. He explained how I could implement artifacts into my curriculum to help bring my content to life. For example, I taught a unit on slavery and instead of just talking about it with my students, they had the opportunity to hold slave shackles, trade beads, and jewelry. Throughout this lesson the emotion was palpable and the students walked away with a deeper understanding and respect than I ever dreamed possible. I have students who are now in college and remember the artifacts because it made such an impression on their heart. Hileman’s gift and unique perspective allows all students to thrive while simultaneously broadening their horizons. His class has a waiting list every year because everyone wants to be immersed in the living museum. Students of all abilities, background, and experiences are able to excel in the environment he has worked diligently to cultivate. Unlike most teachers, he has seen many of our students are various points in their academic career. He uses sick and personal days to take artifacts into various elementary classrooms across our area. He has helped jumpstart small museum collections in four elementary schools. Students at Monticello Trails are able to have him as a teacher from sixth-through-eighth grade, and again in high school for Archeology I and II. Throughout these various experiences he is able to teach students about what it means to be a global citizen. Rather than learning about differences, he finds ways to highlight the commonalities to bridge religions, political perspectives, and centuries. He is working hard to make sure our students are ready to understand, live and support the world they live in. While every teacher impacts the lives of students, Hileman is truly a rarity in the teaching community. He uses his experiences and connections to better the lives of his students on a daily basis, while simultaneously igniting a passion in educators and community members. He is a Life Changer. His innovative style is what separates him from the rest, and is the reason why is an exceptional teacher and worthy of this honor. Sincerely, Mrs. Kendra Preston English Language Arts Monticello Trails Middle School

Gilbert Klingler Posted 9 months ago

My name is Gilbert and I am a member of the museum rebuild crew. Mr. Hileman brings people together and gets things done. It’s what he does and who he is. For me it is a little more personal I met Keil during my junior year of high school in 2014. I have known Mr. Hileman for over five years now. When he reaches out to me for help on museum projects I know it’s important. I know it will make a difference. And I know it will help children learn and grow. There is no doubt. I was asked to dress up as a Viking and help Mr. Hileman do a wizard presentation for a Girl Scout father daughter camp. I was also asked to dress up as a patriotic Uncle Sam for a church sponsored trunk or treat event for children from low income families. I have seen Mr. Hileman‘s passion to help and make a difference firsthand many times. His archaeology class was a motivational escape from the chaos of every day high school. Other teachers are always telling us that anything goes and that it’s always OK to be who you are and talk about whatever you need to talk about, but they don’t really mean it. They never let us talk about what is important to us and School and Life. They just teach us what is in the textbooks and on the worksheets and never take time to get to know us. The subjects he taught us about history and archaeology were always very interesting however what really made me lovethe class was how he genuinely cared about us. It’s easy for students to tell if a teacher really cares or not. I’m not sure I would have graduated high school without Mr.Hileman’s help. My parents divorced during my junior year. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to go through. When Mr. Hileman found out that my family was very far behind on our payments of school fees for over a year and a half he wanted to help. I was told that if I didn’t pay the fees I would not be allowed to graduate. It had been a terrible year for me and my family besides the divorce our house it also caught fire and we had had to move in with my grandparents. There was simply no extra money to be found. Mr. Hileman immediately called the principal at the high school and asked what could they do. That one phone call remove several hundred dollars of my debt. Mr. Hileman shared my story at his church as a type of testimonial and the pastor activated emergency funds to help my family. Individual members of the church stepped forward to also help. Mr. Hileman’s own father stepped in to also help. No one else offered to help me. No one else asked why I was upset that day. I simply went into the office they told me the terrible news and did nothing to help me or care for me. That day I showed up to class emotional and in shock. mr. Hileman refused to start class until he knew what was going on with me. I was more important than the lessons of the day. To Mr. Hileman students always come first. He sees somebody who’s quiet and withdrawn then he will tease them and pull them back into the discussion. If he sees somebody’s tired he will say their name in the middle of sentences while he’s teaching to catch their attention and snap them back awake. If he sees them on their phone reading notes or doing what they’re not supposed to do he will make a joke to pull them back to the topic of class conversation. When he sees people that are cold he has extra blankets in the museum so they can wrap up. When he sees students with red glowing cheeks he recognizes they are sick and have a fever and asks them if they need to go to the bathroom or to the nurse. Just like the day he noticed my eyes were red from crying and my body language tense and upset. I was on edge and he noticed this. Mr. Hileman is always watching listening and observing us. It’s simple, he cares about us as people.... not just students. He values us for who we are and who we can be. You will never know all the connections to people and changes and lives that he has created and caused. No one will. I think this is the perfect award to represent what he has done as a teacher. Each of us added our own parts and pieces to the story that Becca edited. What you have just read is just my little piece that very few people know about. I’m glad I had Mr. HILEMAN as my teacher. I’m proud of all the work I have done with him. We. Still get together for projects and presentations. We frequently seek out Star Wars toys and ships on weekend missions. And I am honored to call him my friend.

Chris Yancey Posted 9 months ago

Just like books can be filled of the stories that captivate the minds and attention of Mr. Hileman’s students, books also can be filled of the ways that Mr. Hileman has positively impacted lives over his years in education. Mr. Hileman is the epitome of the type of educator any parent would hope their child encounters. From a student’s first steps into his one-of-kind Classroom Museum in 6th grade to their experiences in his high school leadership class, Mr. Hileman impacts students young and old. Five years ago, I began teaching with Mr. Hileman. I was transitioning to a new position after holding the same position for 15 years in another district. I knew coming to MTMS would fulfill my love of a challenge in my teaching due to the staff’s reputation of being extremely effective educators; but knowing this also created a slight feeling of intimidation within me. Imagine what I felt upon entering the Museum for the first time. Surprisingly, for me, it wasn’t intimidation. Quite the contrary. Immediately after experiencing the Museum and meeting Mr. Hileman, I knew I was in a special building. I always am proud to tell people about the Museum. However, I am prouder to tell people that I know Mr. Hileman as an educator. As evidenced in the nomination text above, Mr. Hileman is a very unique teacher with very unique methods. His stories captivate any group of students of any age group of any ability level. He fills each pupil’s mind with valuable knowledge not only about history but of life and provides them with hands-on experiences that any child would dream of experiencing. Mr. Hileman has a passion for teaching that is matched only by the passion he instills in each of his students for learning. I am proud to not only teach with Mr. Hileman, but also have a child who has experienced the Museum and Mr. Hileman’s influence. Mr. Hileman deserves so much recognition for what he has created and accomplished with students over the years, but the only recognition Mr. Hileman desires is for his students to have is the ability to keep growing as lifelong learners of history and the ability to become wonderful, productive citizens. As long as Mr. Hileman and the Museum are in session, these results will continue to take place. And we all are better off for it.

Trey Mick Posted 9 months ago

To whom it may concern, Keil Hileman is not just a life changer. For me, and for many many others, he is the definition of a life changer. He is a life changer in a truly infinite number of ways. For me, personally, he is a life changer because I may not even have my life today if it weren’t for him. Rather, I am nearly certain that I would not have my life today if it weren’t for him. Time and time and time again, I have witnessed this man’s influence on the lives of all who he is surrounded by. From school children, to his wife, to his daughters, to his parents, to my parents, to his coworkers, and to this world, I have seen what an extraordinary difference this man has made on the lives of so many people. I cannot think of another human being who deserves to be recognized and admired and cherished the way Keil Hileman should be. Now, I could go on and on about why Keil Hileman should win this award. I could detail why this man is the embodiment of a life changer in so many different ways. I could focus on what he has already done, what is is doing, and what I know he is going to do in the future. Again, I could go on and on about why he should win this award. Instead, I am going to write about how he has already won. I would like to share five stories about Keil- and while I know I have a lot to say, just know that there is so much more about this man that I could add… and so much more that I wish I could add. My first experience with Mr. Hileman came when I was 10 years old. Ironically, this experience did not involve Keil at all. In 2008, my family relocated from Ames, Iowa to Shawnee, Kansas as my mother accepted a corporate position with Hallmark in Kansas City. At the time, this was devastating for me. I lost my school and my friends. However, when we arrived, we visited my new school and my new future friends. These would be the people who I would coincide with, learn with, compete with, grow with, and graduate with. However, the first friend I made when we moved to Kansas City was Keil’s wife, Amy. It’s funny, because I am not sure if she even remembers this, but Amy gave my entire family and I a tour of Horizon Elementary School. She could not have been more kind, welcoming, and warm to all of us. At that moment, she was exactly what we all needed. She calmed us and completely reassured us. Truthfully she set the bar pretty high for us, in terms of what to expect. If one were to meet Mrs. Hileman, I have no doubt that they would agree that she is simply an outstanding person. Unfortunately, it is not always true that couples in a marriage are equals. Yet it could not be more true for Mr. & Mrs. Hileman. She, in every way, is a perfect representation of who Keil is as a person- a friend, a leader, and a hero. Now, I did not actually meet Mr. Hileman until the seventh grade. I was 12 or 13 at this time. My first experience with him in a classroom setting was actually fairly intimidating and my first experience with him one-on-one was even more intimidating. I remember thinking about how completely different he was from any teacher I had ever had. He was loud, he was a little bit ornery, and he was demanding. The first assignment he gave us was one which would last the entirety of that quarter of the school year. It was a binder to be filled with important information about a person of our choosing- almost a timeline of sorts. I chose for my project to cover Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The very first section of this binder was to simply be a basic overview of who the person was, what they did, and how they did it- basically a short synopsis of who that person was. However, this 12 or 13 year old version of me decided that the entirety of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy could be covered in about 3 or 4 sentences. At the time, I remember thinking it was somehow innovative to be so straightforward with this assignment. The truth is, this was me being lazy and combative. And the truth is, I have never been so lazy with an assignment since I submitted that one. In fact, this turned out to be one of the most embarrassing moments for me as a student and I look back and wonder what I was thinking. Obviously I wasn’t thinking. And this lack of thought put me in a poor position when I didn’t consider the possibility that he would have us share, in front of the class, what we had written. Needless to say, my work was not up to par. He made sure I knew it. It’s worth noting that a big part of the reason for my inaction, pertains to my combativeness with authority and rules. I don’t like the status quo very much and I certainly used to struggle with respecting the status quo. I received and F for this assignment- my very first assignment ever for Mr. Hileman. It’s fair to say that this was not the most memorable happening from my seventh grade year. During this year, I played football for the first time. I happened to be terrible at it. However, the fact that I couldn’t breathe with a mouth piece in my mouth probably didn’t help. As it turned out, I had a tumor the size of a golfball, located in my sinus cavity- directly below my brain. I still remember the Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor forcing tweezers up my nostril to attempt to loosen whatever was located in my sinuses (he thought it may have been a tissue, at first). Needless to say, when he pulled on what was located in there, nothing came out. In the days and weeks to follow, I underwent X-Rays, CT Scans, and MRIs to determine the issue. When the doctors realized what was actually going on, they told my mom and I. Obviously, this came as shocking news. Further, the doctors could not determine, at the time, whether or not the tumor was cancerous. I had surgery to remove the tumor from my sinuses- after a four hour operation, the doctor had removed tumor cells amounting to about the size of a pea. He thought he had removed all of it. As noted, this tumor was much larger than a pea. Fortunately, however, we discovered that the tumor was benign- not cancerous. Weeks afterword, another MRI revealed that the tumor was still very much an issue. At this point, my parents chose to share what we were going through with the teachers and administrators at my school. This, only for my mother to receive a phone call just minutes after sending their email to school faculty. As my mother recalls, the voice on the other end of the line turned out to be an “angel in our lives”. It was Mr. Hileman, calling to comfort the parents of a sick child- my parents. Many who know Mr. Hileman would recall his struggles with a similar (but even more frightening) occurrence. In fact, Mr. Hileman had a brain tumor at one point in his life. As I recall, he discovered this shortly after going blind while driving- a symptom of the tumor. I also recall Keil, telling us that his doctors had told him he would never have children of his own as a result of his operations. Luckily, for us all, he has three amazing, driven, intelligent, outstanding daughters. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting all of them. They truly are incredible girls- yet another reflection of who Keil Hileman is as a person. The fact that Mr. Hileman- who had never even spoken to my mother at that point- not only called, but called so urgently, to offer his support and his guidance was instrumental for me at that time. Keil and I agree that the hardest part of being sick is having to watch your loved ones struggle with this reality. I can’t begin to express what it meant to me for him to call. However, this support didn’t end with a phone call. He stayed in touch with me and my parents, to offer support, as I dealt with this tumor below my brain all the way through my Freshman year of High School. You learn a lot about life and you learn a lot about yourself when you experience something such as this. That seems almost cliche to say. What people often forget to mention is how much you learn about others when you experience something like this. One of those people I learned a lot about was Mr. Hileman. Plain and simple, the man has a heart of gold. He loves all of his students. Never, could I fully understand exactly how far this love reached until my Freshman year of college. During this year, I fell in love for the first time (actually the second time- but this was the first time that it actually turned into something). I met a girl who I adored and cared about in a way that I had never thought possible. She was perfect for me- or at least that was what I thought at the time. Truthfully, I overlooked many incompatibilities between the two of us. Within three months, she ended our relationship. This, sent me into a downward spiral. I will warn that this next portion of what I have to add is rather deep and scary. I will also say, I realize now that my actions were disproportionate, irrational, and completely unnecessary. Let me be very clear- suicide is a very permanent solution to very temporary problems; there is always a better solution, another answer, another reason to keep going. To anyone who may come across this in a time of desperation- just know that I mean it, with all of my heart and soul, when I say suicide is not the answer! With that said, at age 19, I had become so depressed that I did set out to end my own life. Without going into detail, I took some very real steps toward doing something very very stupid. Despite being surrounded by love from my parents, my little brother, my grandparents, my friends, etc. I had never felt more lonely than I did in those days. I truly believed that ending my life was the right course of action. I could not have been more wrong. I love my life. As I'm writing this I am stricken by the enormous amount of luck I have had in my life. I am so incredibly fortunate. I have two parents who love me, grandparents who are my heroes, a little brother who looks out for me, and friends who care very deeply about me. One of those friends is Keil Hileman. He was there for me and my family during this dark and frightening time in our lives. As I’m about to write this next sentence, I realize that when he reads this, it will be the first time he will have ever heard this. There were not one, but two separate occasions where a phone call from Mr. Hileman prevented me from taking action to harm myself. Im quite certain that he didn’t know this, even as the phone calls were taking place. Although, at the same time, I think he did know, at least in some weird way. There was nothing special about the conversations, there was nothing unique about them. But maybe that was the point. Maybe his intention was to simply calm me, refocus me, and let me know that he cared. This, coming from a man who is almost always excited, almost totally unfocused, and sarcastically hard on me. Who knows? Maybe he did know what I was about to do in those moments. All I know is that I honestly do not know if I would be here if it weren’t for him. It’s also worth noting that months after this “rock bottom” of mine, Keil hand delivered, to me, a letter from his father. And while I’m going to keep the contents of that letter to myself- It is very clear that Keil grew up with an incredible man for a father. He is so kind and supportive- just as his son is. He should be proud, as I know he certainly is. For my final story, I want to take a step back in my progression, and look back to High School- specifically, my Senior year. I was lucky enough to enroll in Mr. Hileman’s archaeology course for High School students at Mill Valley High School and DeSoto High School. This, to be completely honest, was my first taste of what college would be like for me. I would describe this course as a completely liberating, freeing, and empowering experience. In this class, I reconnected with a classmate, who would turn into someone I know will be a life long friend. As Mr. Hileman would recall, my friend Thomas and I quickly bonded in this course. And in fact, Thomas and I paired up to create one of the most unique, epic, and completely off-point final projects ever. I would go so far as to guarantee Mr. Hileman has and likely never will have another project quite like it. I happen to know that the 10 page paper I wrote for this final project is still in his desk to this day (or at least that’s what he tells me). Now, almost 4 years later, I don't even remember what that assignment was supposed to cover. Even more unfortunately, I don’t remember the exact details of our project. However, I do happen to remember the scope of it. Thomas and I separated a physical project and a written paper between the two of us- Thomas would create the physical model to present in class, I would write the paper. I can honestly say that what we created was beyond brilliant. It was unique. It was clever. And It was borderline genius. Anyone who has been inside of Mr. Hileman’s classroom knows that it is, quite literally, a museum. We created our project, centered around the idea of what 10 items from the museum, Mr. Hileman would take into a bomb shelter with him in the event of an apocalyptic event. Maybe Thomas will recall this project in more detail than I can. All I remember is that we put so much effort into it. At this point, anyone who has been reading this post will recall the incredible lack of effort I put into my very first assignment for Mr. Hileman. They’d also recall that I did so out of spite for authority and the rules… But in this final project… one of those two things changed. In this final project, I truly gave an incredible effort- but an an effort, still in spite of the status quo. This is the point where I will admit that I cannot recall what the project was supposed to cover, because I completely disregarded, from the start, what was being asked of us in the project. We created something amazing, funny, inspired, and focused. We just created something that wasn’t focused on what it was supposed to be focused on- not even in the slightest. And while I honestly will forever be proud of the work Thomas and I put into that project (the work of breaking every rule possible), I would now say that I honestly do not recommend it to current or future students if they are reading this. On my very first assignment ever for Mr. Hileman, I gave 0% effort in 100% disregard for the rules- I got an F. On my very final assignment ever for Mr. Hileman, we gave 100% effort in 100% disregard for the rules- we got an F. I’ve never been more proud of an F in my entire life. My parents were irate, but I was proud. And I know that in some weird, twisted way, Mr. Hileman was proud too. Perhaps it is worth noting that I graduated High School with a 3.5/4.0 GPA and today, I’m an Honor Society Student with the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars, with a 3.83/4.00 GPA, majoring in Business Administration with a double minor in Psychology and Sociology. I someday plan to obtain my MBA from one of the most prestigious MBA Programs in the nation. So, while it is fair to say that Mr. Hileman influenced me to actually care about the work I create, I would also argue that he found an incredible way to structure my lack of respect for the status quo. Those who know him, know that he doesn’t have much respect for the status quo either- but he somehow knows how to utilize this. It's actually pretty incredible to watch. After all, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” - Steve Jobs Mr. Keil Hileman has been one of the most important and influential figures in my life. I cannot imagine where I would be without him. I likely would not be here at all. Yet, despite every single thing this man has done for me… everything he has sacrificed for me… and every bit of belief this man has shown in me… I know that the true value of this individual cannot and will not ever be able to be measured. For, I am only one story. I am only one life he has touched. I am only one success story of his. There are thousands and thousands of others- each unique and accomplished in their own respect. Keil Hileman is a Life Changer. More honestly, Keil Hileman is a World Changer. Our World is a better and brighter place because of Mr. Hileman. No matter what, he is our winner. To Keil, You are one of the best friends I could ever ask for. Having you as a part of my life for all of these years has meant so much. And while I know that I can never repay all that you have done for me, I do hope to make you proud. You have laid the ground work, you have been our world changer, and it is largely because of you that we know we can change the world too. Thank You!

Graham K. Cannon Posted 9 months ago

I first met Mr. Hileman when I was in sixth grade in 2007. I really didn't know what career I was interested in. I loved film and I loved history and I didn't know how to combine them together. I had heard about this class called Museum Connections and it sounded interesting. I found myself in the museum within the first week and immediately found exactly what I was looking for. Mr. Hileman really is just as advertised, he really has fossils and civil war relics that he would hand out to the class. It wasn't just he would hand out artifacts, he would show films in class which connected to the lesson he was teaching. You had a visual aid which really brought home what he was teaching. Mr. Hileman then would make us do a research project, which was mainly to build somthing awesome. I remember going to craft stores to build my projects and what i built. I built a paper mache Spartan Shield from "300," a cake version of the battle of Gettysburg, and a popsicle stick Trojan Horse (which is still displayed in his classroom). I instantly fell in love with history in a new aspect. Through my time in middle school at Monticello Trails, I had Mr.Hileman as a teacher. He was the teacher who pushed me, made sure I was working hard on everything I did. My family and I went on the annual school trip to Washington DC, and I love going to DC to this day because of those trips. He's an Eagle Scout like I am, but he always asked me about scouts and made sure I was working towards my Eagle Scout. He became more than a teacher and when I was able to get his classes when I was a junior and senior in high school, I was giddy. I reconnected with him and was able to ask him questions about what I should do in college, he's an alumnus of the University of Kansas and I was on my way to attending the same university, he gave me great advice on my time at KU. When I attended KU, I was initaly going into teaching, but I changed to film and history and double majored. I would not have followed the path I've followed unless I took Hileman's class. He has made such an impact on my life and I know I'm not the only one. In the times I've seen him since I graduated from high school, I've seen other graduates come by and visit him at the same time. I know plenty of people I graduated with, who told me how he made them take history classes in college or pursue teaching degrees. This man is one of the most amazing people and I can point to him as one of the main reasons I followed the path I am on.

Quin Showalter Posted 9 months ago

Keil is my "go to" guest speaker when I need to energize my students' love of learning again. When they are feeling "blah" about school and learning, Keil is able to light a fire and get them to engage with history in new and interesting ways. I have asked Keil to speak to my students about the History of Medicine for an all day seminar on the topic. He used historical artifacts, video clips, visuals, demonstrations, and intriguing stories to teach us all about medical breakthroughs. My students were riveted, and Keil was able to take my lesson idea and pump it full of energy! I have never seen students so excited to hear someone speak. He has a true gift. I have also asked Keil to provide artifacts for my science class. He is always willing to share his materials and his knowledge, which makes him a true game-changer as a colleague, always willing to help me make my lessons better, even if he isn't there to get the credit. Keil's historical knowledge is second to none, but even greater is his ability and willingness to connect with students and get them fired up for learning something new. Every teacher has students that they connect with easily, and those who elude them. For those kids who struggle to connect at school, Keil's class is a life raft. And for those who love school, Keil's class is the icing on the cake. It's the reason many kids get out of bed and come to school; they don't want to miss one of Keil's "wild but true" stories! They go home and tell their parents all about how religious beliefs influenced ancient practices, how trebuchets ended castle building, or how diabetes was detected in ancient Egypt. Keil has something really special. There's a reason he is so hard to book as a guest speaker. I'm so thankful that I can count Keil as one of my colleagues and friends. He's remarkable.

Alyssa Judd Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman has come to our school (Clear Creek Elementary) for the past several years. He brings a box of fun and interesting gadgets and items all related to science and space. The kids get to feel the items, pass them around and play with them. They love it! He speaks with energy and enthusiasm because he truly loves what he speaks about. The students are fully engaged and learn more than they ever expected to about science. We look forward every year to the box of goodies that Mr. Hileman brings to our school!

Dr. Joseph O'Brien Posted 9 months ago

Dear Committee Members for The Life Changer of the Year Award: While many educators have inspired others by their dreams of making student learning dynamic, innovative and thought-provoking, during the past twenty-six years Keil Hileman has inspired educators across the nation by demonstrating how to make such dreams a reality for his students. In some respects, what Keil has accomplished at first blush seems reasonable yet simple. If as a history teacher, you truly are committed to empowering young people as creative and critical learners, what better way to do so than to immerse them in the “stuff” of history, pose provocative questions to them and then let engage in historical investigation in a quest to craft responses to those questions. Such an approach seems very reasonable, but only is simple if one considered text-based documents as the sole source of historical evidence. For Keil, what people of the past owned and used in their daily lives were invaluable, but often overlooked, sources of historical evidence. Allowing students to engage with such sources, particularly the material that revealed how everyday people of the past were alike and different from them, not only enriched the students’ historical research but fostered historical empathy by creating a bridge of shared humanity between the students and those they were studying. Upon realizing how the use of artifacts engaged students and enhanced their learning, Keil started his quest to create a classroom history museum. Ironically, only later as he continually reached out to parents for contributions to the museum did he realize that by asking them to join him in an effort to create bridges to the past for his students and their children, he also was constructing similar bridges between the community and his classroom. Grounding his teaching in a student-centric approach to historical inquiry where students draw upon multiple, varied sources of historical evidence to explore critical questions related to enduring historical themes has earned Keil the respect of colleagues, parents and, most importantly, students. In the mid to late 1990’s, I recall meeting with him on numerous occasions to discuss ways to bring his vision of a classroom museum to fruition. In 1997, he received district level recognition of his efforts even while the creation of the museum still was in its infancy. As he began to both build the museum and to better integrate its use into his school’s curriculum, the recognition for his efforts grew beyond the district to the state and then to the national level. A testimony to Keil’s continuing pursuit to craft the best educational experiences for his students is how he still is receiving accolades for his efforts twenty years after receiving the district level honor. Quite possibly though the honor he most prizes is how he created two high school elective archeology courses that largely are populated by his former middle school students. Mr. Hileman’s constant revision and expansion of his museum illustrates one facet of his dedication to professional learning. He is not content though to apply this dedication simply to his school and students, but acts on this commitment via professional engagement with colleagues in settings as diverse as district level meetings, national conferences, and the Red Hat Ladies, as well as through publications and video clips. Unlike many educators with a national reputation, his work with Girl and Boy Scouts for over 26 years aptly demonstrates his priority. His willingness to devote so much time to helping youth both in a school and scout situation to learn about people of the past illustrates his commitment to furthering their appreciation and understanding of diverse persons and groups. Admittedly, pre-service and novice teachers represent his second priority as he believes they represent the future of education. For almost 26 years Keil visits with my pre-service educator students to discuss the professional life of a social studies teacher. Each year he extends an invitation to them to spend time with his students in the classroom museum. My students always return to campus in awe of his accomplished teaching and of his students’ learning and interaction with the museum artifacts. Given my experience, I am well aware that their awe is but a pale reflection of the wonder experienced by his students. I highly recommend Mr. Hileman for The Life Changers or The Year Award. Sincerely, Dr. Joseph O’Brien, Associate Professor jeobrien@ku.edu

Samantha Morrison Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman was my S.S. teacher in 7th grade back in 2002! I was never interested in history until I had his class and found out how fascinating it can be! He made it FUN to learn and always allowed us to learn through asking questions and hands on experiences. After his class the spark of wanting to teach began for me! I now teach at an elementary school in the same district as him. He brings his high schoolers to my school every year and gives them the same experience that I had so long ago. He brings in true Native American Artifacts and my students talk about it all year long! He's a total life changer for so many in our community, including me!

Frank McCleary Posted 9 months ago

I've known Keil for almost 30 years. As his roommate in college, I watched as he spent long hours working on lessons as a student teacher. I've been fortunate to watch as he developed his classroom museum. We often talk about new acquisitions he is making, and he is always excited about expanding his exhibits. That excitement is not necessarily about adding another object or two, but that it would give him another opportunity to reach or connect with another student or two or three. The museum has always been for Keil a means to end: connecting with students and expanding their horizons. Making those connections has allowed him to change the lives of many students. Keil has been influential in my life because when I decided to change careers and become a teacher, he was the first one I talked to about my decision. He was honest about what to expect from all aspects of teaching (students, parents and administrators) and always encouraging. Since I started teaching, we have spent many hours discussing issues common to all teachers and issues specific to my classroom. One of Keil's greatest attributes is that he will tell me what I need to hear, and not necessarily what I want to hear. That's an important quality in a friend and an essential quality for a teacher. Without Keil Hileman, I doubt I would be a teacher. Keil's knowledge of his subject area is unquestioned. But that's not what makes him a great teacher. I have seen him interacting with his students outside of the classroom, and the respect those students have for him is clear. Not every student will approach a teacher in a restaurant or a store just to say hello. I've seen that more times than I can count, and I consider that a pretty good indicator of his influence.

Lane buckner Posted 9 months ago

Keil Hileman is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had and has been extremely motivational to my school life and my life outside of school. If I have an issue with coming up with ideas for a project or I can’t finish a project on time I’ll text him and he’ll work with me and help me come up with a solution that works for both of us. Keil’s positive energy and sense of humor really lifts up the whole class and I honestly don’t think there’s anyone who dosent like him. I wish there were more teachers like Mr. Hileman.

Emily Bouvier Posted 9 months ago

Mr. Hileman is hands down the best teacher and mentor I’ve ever had. I was lucky enough to have him all through middle school even though prior to his class I’d never cared for history. I have learned more from him than any other educator I’ve had. More so, because of the joy he inspires in his students and subject matter, I developed a passion to truly appreciate and understand history and its impact on all of our today’s. Mr. Hileman is the name that every student, every community member knows. If you had him, he inspired you. If you have him he encourages you. If you know him he laughs with you. If you even know OF him, he changes you. He’s the most impactful person I know, and I am honored to have been a student of his and now a family friend. He is the definition of a life changer not just for one year, but always, for every year past and to come.

Phil Hileman Posted 9 months ago

You should know that parental pride is influencing this statement. Keil's whole family has always been proud of his contribution to young people. His care and nurture starts at home with his three daughters. He has forgone many more financially lucrative opportunities in his adult life so that he can make a difference in the lives of some of the people he loves the most--the people in his classroom. I have witnessed the personal sacrifices he makes for those people. He extends his care and concern to the parents as well. I was at a grocery store picking up an online order I had placed. One of the young women helping load them into my car spotted my name and asked me if I knew Keil. I told her I was his father and she proceeded to tell me about how positively he had impacted her life when she needed it most. She had me take a video message on my phone and send it to him. At the homecoming parade this year I was sitting on the sidelines with him and his wife Amy. Every single float that came by had kids on it that gave him recognition and respect. These were all high school students that had been in his classes when they were middle school kids. He teaches some honors classes for high school kids that qualify and many of them reached out to him as well. He has raised money for graduation fees that allows seniors to graduate when they didn't have enough money to pay the fees. When he enters his classroom each day his only goal is to help his students prepare for their future and make them as successful as he can.

Tyler Thomas Posted 9 months ago

Hello, my name is Tyler. I am one of the museum rebuild team people from last summer. I am an 8th grader. When you come into the museum you see all this amazing stuff. It is full of cool things and makes us all so curious about history. If we didn't have all this stuff class might be boring. Not with Mr. H! With a buffalo on the wall and airplanes flying from the ceiling and a real suit of armor... we just want to keep coming back for more! It is so Exciting. Mr. Hileman has worked his entire career to make this all for us. Mr. Hileman is my tutor after school every day. if I had not had his help i would never have earned the good grades that i have earned. He makes every day better. I actually have someone to talk to about all the stuff that happens in school. I very much look forward to coming to class each day! I hope he wins!