Sunday Morning Inspiration: North Bend Elementary's Mr. Tepper

An elementary school boundary change brought my then 3rd grade daughter to North Bend Elementary School in 2010.  It’s never easy being the new kid, especially when you have medical issues that put you at the nut-free table.  It wasn’t an easy transition.  She transferred knowing no one, as she had attended her previous SVSD school as a transfer student, not going to SES with the neighborhood kids.

Two things helped the transition the most – time and Mr. Alan Tepper, NBE Physical Education Teacher.  It’s as if Mr. Tepper has an innate sense of his students, knowing just what to say and exactly what kind of encouragement each specific child needs.  It’s hard to put into words how much he helped my daughter.  They clicked.

After a couple weeks at NBE she came home excited because Mr. Tepper had told her about his jump rope and unicycle teams.  She wanted to be a Panther Jump Roper.  Admittedly, it was difficult getting up that extra hour early for practice, but she did it.  She excelled at it.  By 4th grade, her new goal was to become jump rope team captain by her 5th grade year.  Practice consumed her  – at home, during recess and during lunch.  The past two months were spent perfecting a jump rope routine and performing it daily for Mr. Tepper.

About a month ago she climbed into my car with tears in her eyes.  After inquiring what was wrong she professed that Mr. Tepper was retiring at the end of the year.  She explained how she liked all her teachers, but wasn’t sure it would ever be the same without Mr. Tepper.  She confessed he was the reason she liked her new school so much.

Mr. Tepper started teaching in the Snoqualmie Valley School District in 1978 and came to NBE in 1980.  He’s been an educator for 45 years and is what many consider “an institution” in the valley, especially in North Bend.  There isn’t a summer parade that doesn’t feature the Panther Pride Unicycle Team. Mr. Tepper has spent his four decade career creating opportunities for valley children, as well as establishing a sense of confidence and self in so many students along the way.

He is a believer in alternative sports.  Shortly into his NBE tenure, he began the Panther Pride Unicycle and Jump Rope Teams.  These teams offer affordable athletic opportunities to all NBE students.  It simply costs $3 to purchase a jump rope and join the team.  NBE now even has its own group of scooter riders, as Mr. Tepper incorporates a scooter riding PE unit each winter.  He says the community does a great job with traditional team sports, so he does the others.  Parents often discuss what a great asset his teams are to the valley, as they provide additional team sports for more kids.

This March, Mr. Tepper was named “Best Teacher” in the Snoqualmie Valley Record’s Annual “Best of the Valley” Poll.  He is extremely modest about this new title and his role in the community, explaining many teachers do more than he does, but fall under the radar.

Friday marked Mr. Tepper’s last Unicycle, Jump Rope an Scooter Rider Assembly at North Bend Elementary.  His teams performed for the school and community, showcasing their skills.  Members of the Panther Pride National Unicycle Team even performed.  They travel to Italy this summer to compete in the World Championships.  As the assembly ended, Mr. Tepper was honored by parents and staff.  Principal Frasier said it is a North Bend Elementary goal to continue the teams and programs Mr. Tepper began some 30 years ago.

If you have a story to share about Mr. Tepper, please leave it here on the comment page.  He has been an integral part of the NBE and Snoqualmie Valley community for so many years, it’s hard to think of NBE without him.  Thank you, Mr. Tepper.  My daughter believes even more in herself because of the dedication you have shown during your career.

You can see a short iMovie highlighting some of Friday’s assembly here.


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  • 6 years ago, my daughter Sierra paid her $3 for a jump rope and joined the North Bend Elementary jump rope team. Mr. Tepper allowed her to join the team even though my daughter did not even go to North Bend Elementary – she was a student at Opstad. My daughter spent the next several years working on her jump rope skills and it made a huge difference in her life and her self esteem. She was so proud when she was finally able to do double dutch… For those who do not know, the entire North Bend gym is filled to the beam a hour before school even starts with jump rope teams all trying to win more multicolored beads – all thanks to Mr. Tepper. He has to be the most awe inspiring teacher I have ever seen. I will be forever in debt to Mr. Tepper for spending so much time helping a little girl from another school become the best she could be. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you for being such a huge positive influence on all of our children.
    Regards, David Spring, Parent North Bend

  • Oh, Mr Tepper, there aren’t enough words to tell you what you mean to me. You taught me so much about my kids and helped me to see the special and unique gifts they have. I spent 9yrs with you in the mornings helping with ‘rope skipping’, and I was always so amazed at how much you sincerely appreciated each child and made each one feel special. Bailey and Will have moved on from NBE, can you believe Bailey is now a Sophomore at MSHS, and Will a 6th grader at TFMS! But, to this day, ask them who has ‘influenced’ them the most, hands down, it’s you, Mr Tepper. Bailey has written several school papers about you when presented with a writing topic that has anything to do about inspiration or hard work. You never allow words like, “I can’t”. Instead, you teach kids to say “I’ll try.” PE was the highlight of Will and Bailey’s elementary school days, and both became jumprope ‘masters’ and 5th grade jumprope captains. Most Importantly, PE and jumprope taught them some of life’s best lessons: how to fall down and get back up, and that the best rewards are those you get after serious, hard work (like earning those jumprope beads). You built such confidence in my kids, thank you for that irreplaceable gift. Godspeed, my friend. May life hold many new adventures for you! Barbara Scott

  • Mr. Tepper is the best teacher. He inspires kids and wants them to be successful. He doesn’t let them not try or say “I can’t” He makes others feel good when he believes in them on something they didn’t think they can do. He helped me find the inner athlete and he helped me be confident in myself.
    Cara wants to add that ever since she was in kindergarten he was there for me. He always believed in me. I’m in 3rd grade now and I’ve got 9 beads and I’m on the orange level in jump rope.

    1. Oops I hit post button too soon. Mr. Tepper has been a good influence on me and he made me stronger in my body and my heart. Thank you for all you have done. We will miss you!

  • My family and I met Mr. Tepper in 1997 when my daughter was 4th grader at NBE. She started in a before school open gym program unicycling. She was invited to come after school to the team practices. Soon her older sister was hanging around practice too. Next thing I knew I had two kids on the Panther Pride Unicycle Team. Within a year I too was on the team, not riding but helping anyway I could.
    I learned a lot from Mr. T. He never asked you to anything he didn’t think you could do, didn’t matter if you were a child or an adult. He gave so much of his time to spend with the children. His PE classes were the most inventive ones I have ever observed.
    He became a friend to me when I had very few.

  • I was a NBE student long before the unicycle club started…Before that Mr. Teller had a gymnastics team…I learned gymnastics from Mr. Tepper…He for sure was the most motivational teacher I ever had. I still have memories of running laps around the gym to “playing with the queen of hearts…knowing it ain’t really smart” and “eye of the tiger”. I hope he gets to enjoy a really long and happy retirement!

  • Congratulations to Mr. Tepper. Hope you will enjoy your retirement.:) It as been a joy and honor to have you teach our children and to have you as a co-worker. May the Best to Come. Blessings, Denae McGregor

  • Congratulation Mr. Tepper! You were a big inspiration to me and helped build my Son and Daughter’s self esteem when they attended NBE in early 90’s. I am a wheelchair user and wasn’t able to teach my kids the physical skills of running, jumping and skipping which are important for a child’s development. Your love, concern and patients along with the enthusiasm for life you mentored in the PE classes and alternative sports you taught shall never be forgotten. You made a difference. The best of luck in your new adventure. Jane Newton

  • I am so thankful that both of my children, now both grown, were able to have the opportunity to be students of Mr. Tepper. His wife was also my son’s 6th grade teacher and probably the best teacher he ever had in elementary school. What a blessing this couple has been to our community as well as in our local school. May you both enjoy your retirement together. Bless you!

  • Moving.

    Mr. Tepper and I began at NBE almost the same year, only I was his 2nd grade student. He had after school tumbling, which I loved. I am certain he is the reason I became a PE techer myself, though I’ve been unable to secure a job. I plan to use CrossFit Kids to bring my passion for athletics to kids, just as Mr. Tepper did for me all those years ago. Thank you, Mr. Tepper!!! -Lena (Brock) Morrill

  • I was a member of Mr Tepper’s first panther pride team circa 1982!, and I participated throughout elementary doing various things. I still have some of the uniforms! I was not very good at first with any of the activities, in fact, I was a sorry sight, but with Mr Tepper’s encouragement and many, many hours of practice, I got pretty good. It was then I learned that talents and success CAN be achieved with hard work, a truly valuable life lesson that still escapes many people today. Thinking back, I’m amazed on how he was able to balance working with kids of all abilities. Everyone was special no matter what. I got involved with Mr Tepper again in high school, when he coordinated a kids camp and got high school kids to be the counselors. Everyone had a blast, kids, counselors, teachers, and parents. He even sent me a thank you note, I still remember what it said – “Amy, thank you for being involved in this year’s camp. I don’t think you realize this, but when we were at the campfire, I was standing way in back, and I saw you, for no special reason, wrap your arms around your kids and hug them close…I saw this with the light of the fire in the background. That was a beautiful moment. I know that your kids will remember this camp for years to come.” No kidding, Mr Tepper is the real deal! I never was a “joiner” or a “leader” of things, but somehow, you just couldn’t NOT be that way around Mr Tepper.

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