Educator of Excellence

PBHS Beta advisers earn national recognition for club growth
Posted on 10/03/2023
Dr. Stephanie Kuper and Pam Davis

Outgoing teacher advisers at Poplar Bluff High School have received national recognition for their work growing the Beta Club as their swan song, having passed the baton to a new set of capable leaders this school year.

Pam Davis, business education teacher, and Assistant Principal Dr. Stephanie Kuper were named 2023 John W. Harris Educators of Excellence, among only 170 of over 20,000 sponsors to earn the honor out of more than 8,500 clubs across the U.S. and beyond.

“Due to the extraordinary commitment it takes to lead a club to this success, the John W. Harris Educator of Excellence award is the highest honor offered to National Beta sponsors,” the organization wrote in a press release issued last month. An accompanying award letter stated: “Your enthusiastic commitment to National Beta has earned you this most prestigious sponsor award and we applaud you for your outstanding leadership.”

To qualify for the award, named after the organization’s founder, sponsors must focus on club growth, community service and networking at National Beta events. The PBHS Beta Club was named a National Beta School of Merit in July by offering membership to all eligible grades across campus; the club grew from below 50 members to approximately 130; and each member has completed 50-75 service hours across the campus community.

Over the summer, 34 members from PBHS competed at the National Beta Convention, the largest group ever to qualify. To help subsidize travel costs, the club brought in a total of $14,500 in the last four years via Dr Pepper’s Collect the Caps promotion. Bryden Fuemmeler, a senior, was named Missouri Beta president, the first state officer in PBHS history, according to Kuper. Further, junior Emaly Clyburn was named one of three state leadership representatives.

“I have been involved with Beta since the early 2000s when I was a high school student, so Beta provided me opportunities to branch out of my comfort zone and connect with friends from other schools, as well as scholarship opportunities,” Kuper stated. “Whenever I had the opportunity to help enrich our club in Poplar Bluff, I knew that was something I felt passionate about.”

Davis added: “For me, one of the biggest takeaways is it is a place that everybody can belong. Not all students are athletes, or even have to be top students [academically]. But all our students can serve our community, find a place where they fit in, and be good humans.”

Kuper and Davis have served together for the past couple of years, and Kuper was an adviser for another two years prior. Stepping down in order to free up time for other obligations, the duo was succeeded by math teacher Mona Blackburn and language arts teacher Emily Padilla, both new to PBHS. National Beta is the largest independent, non-profit, educational youth organization in America.


Cutline: Dr. Stephanie Kuper (left) and Pam Davis earned the 2023 John W. Harris Educator of Excellence awards for their dedication to helping grow the PBHS Beta Club.

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