Latin teacher Tom Herpel works to form meaningful connections with students and athletes

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Victoria Gray

Latin teacher Tom Herpel entertains students with a sword and a gladiator helmet. In class, Herpel focused on the learning process while making the class enjoyable for students and involving cultural experiences. “I’ll always remember the vocative tense, or command tense, because we learned it and vocab by doing yoga-like the game Twister,” Rutledge said.

Whether it is in the classroom or on the soccer field, Latin teacher and varsity boys soccer coach Tom Herpel preaches perseverance and guides students to be the best versions of themselves.

Herpel is in the business of building relationships with all he comes into contact with.

“He gave me advice that I did not want to hear, but that was ultimately better for me. Even if he can’t give you advice he will just listen. He makes you feel valid[ated] for anything that you may have going on,” junior Zoë Rutledge said. “Whenever we have those surveys where it’s like, ‘do you have a teacher that you can trust?’ You’re like ‘yeah, that’s Herpel, I can trust him, he always believes in me even when I don’t.’”

As a three year member of the Latin community, Rutledge has found herself becoming more outgoing and able to express herself better under Herpel’s leadership.

“He’s definitely helped me become more sociable. I just feel more comfortable being in leadership positions and public speaking,” Rutledge said. 

I’m inspired by the fact that every day is different, the idea that [students] at any moment can learn something new that can change your life,”

— Latin teacher Tom Herpel

After the school day ends, Herpel is a leader and friend on the field as well. With 12 years of coaching experience, he emphasizes dedication, effort, leadership and team cohesiveness as measures of success.

“He pushed me to be better every day,” varsity boys soccer captain and senior Holden Potter said. “It’s just the little things that we would talk about between all those games and practices. I can tell that he really cares. I hope to be his friend after I leave and come back and help him coach if I can.”

Herpel teaches students to work for what they have. He wants his students to be proud of the efforts they put forth.

“I’m inspired by the fact that every day is different, the idea that [students] at any moment can learn something new that can change your life,” Herpel said. “I think that is pretty powerful, so I like being able to take on that challenge each day.”