Photo Credit: CPS
Below is the full letter Dr. Stiepleman wrote the board of education.
October 22, 2020
To the Board of Education of the Columbia Public Schools:
In 1996, I visited the Anne Frank Annex in Amsterdam. It is a holy pilgrimage for anyone who stands in opposition to Nazis and white supremacy. To read about the family’s life hidden in such a small space taught me about courage, compassion, faith, family, and resilience. 1996 was about the time when I was considering what career path I would pursue. And it was this quote from Anne Frank that became a rallying cry for me in
whatever path I followed:
“In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the
time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.”
It is this quote that has been the first thing to go up in my classroom or office. And it’s the last thing to come down when I choose to do something different. And on June 30, 2021, I will take Anne Frank off the wall of my office. I will retire from the Columbia Public Schools.
I will look back on the last 16 years as a Columbia Public School teacher, principal, and superintendent with great pride. I will be ever grateful for the relationships I’ve made with the community, with colleagues, with the board of education, with families – and with my students. So many I’ve followed from when they entered as preschoolers to when they crossed the stage as high school graduates.
I will look back at standing in the Board Room – the room where I shared the letters AEO. We’ve continued to be a school district of distinction, a nationally recognized district. We’ve increased enrichment opportunities for children and we’ve improved academic opportunities for children. In fact, I am eligible to receive about
$50,000 because over the last 16 years I’ve almost never needed to take a sick day. I know I was born with blessings – and I know I have an obligation to share those blessings with others. So, I will be donating that money – all $50,000 to three areas.
To the Nature School – I am so excited that every 5th grader in Boone County will get to attend a fully accessible place‐based learning center. Our children will be the key to tackling climate change and that starts with
understanding how to be a responsible steward of land and water.
I will be donating to the CPS Japan Connection trip. I loved being a part of our renewed partnership with our sister city in Hakusan, Japan. This world has so much good and yet we spend so much time tearing each other apart. I have faith in our children and our teachers who are incredible ambassadors of empathy and compassion, intelligence and hope. I want to contribute financially to future collaborations with Hakusan so that our kids, regardless of financial constraints, can be eligible to go, And finally, I will contribute financially to our COMOEd Future Teacher Program. Our leaders are helping CPS
lead the nation by establishing a pipeline of locally educated, highly effective, culturally competent future teachers. This program will be a legacy for Columbia.
The three initiatives are exactly the kinds of things I had hope to be a part of when I first read Anne Frank’s words. They represent my ideals and the ideals of my family.
I want to close by thanking my team. I love them. Thank you to our teachers and staff who will do anything and everything for children. Thank you to Columbia. You have been an incredibly supportive community. You believed in our vision of AEO. You passed every single bond and you approved a significant tax increase so that we could pay teachers and staff more. Your investment in public education allowed us to invest in AEO for our
I informed the Board of Education over 2 years ago that my eldest son would graduate high school in 2021. I
shared how he had joined me at West Boulevard as a kindergartner and that it was my plan to graduate with
him – how we’d walk off the stage together as graduates of the Columbia Public Schools.
And that’s what we will do.
But until then, we will continue to work hard, every day, to make sure children are college, career, and life ready. Thank you.
Dr. Peter Stiepleman