Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2019

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Hall of Fame teacher from Las Vegas follows in mentor’s footsteps

Richard Knoeppel


Richard Knoeppel, an architectural design instructor at the Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas, is being inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. He is shown here in Washington, D.C.

Some people are inducted into a hall of fame for their greatness on the baseball diamond or the football field or for creating incredible music. Richard Knoeppel got in by inspiring and mentoring and guiding the next generation of Las Vegans.

Knoeppel, an architectural design instructor at the Advanced Technologies Academy in Las Vegas, is being inducted next month into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, which each year recognizes five of the nation’s most outstanding educators.

Since 1992, the nonprofit organization has recognized 130 teachers from 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Only one other Nevada teacher has been recognized by the hall — another A-Tech instructor and Knoeppel’s mentor, the late John Snyder, who was inducted in 2007.

Knoeppel said Snyder took him under his wing when Knoeppel started teaching at A-Tech in 1995, a year after he joined the Clark County School District.

“The fact he took the time to do that for me inspired me to do the same thing and pay it forward,” said Knoeppel, who has a master's degree in industrial arts education.

“When you teach for a long time, it’s important to be a mentor,” he said. “Provide them the same thing you give to students: true potential to affect change in the classroom.”

A-Tech Principal Jonathan Synold said it’s fitting that Knoeppel is following Snyder into the Hall of Fame.

“They were close colleagues,” he said. “They shared ideas and were visionaries for A-Tech. It’s very appropriate they both received this award.”

The past several months have been busy for Knoeppel, who has won string of teaching awards, including Nevada Teacher of the Year in October. With his latest honor, he said, “I have this brand new Hall of Fame family with colleagues in other states.”

Knoeppel said he thinks it’s important to recognize educators. “It’s very easy with the way people stereotype teachers,” he said. “People think we are overpaid babysitters.”

A-Tech history teacher Jeffrey Hinton can attest that Knoeppel is anything but that, calling him a “teacher’s teacher.”

“He’s a really passionate teacher,” said Hinton, who considers Knoeppel a mentor.

“I learn a lot from Rich, from his long experience,” Hinton said. “He’s definitely been a mentor to not just me but all of his colleagues.”