Citizen of the Week

Alan Tepper, physical education teacher at North Bend Elementary, recently picked up a special award for his work encouraging healthy lifestyles. - Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Alan Tepper, physical education teacher at North Bend Elementary, recently picked up a special award for his work encouraging healthy lifestyles.
— image credit: Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record

North Bend Elementary School physical education teacher Alan Tepper was recently honored with a “Teachers Light the Way” Award for his work promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging students and adults alike to incorporate exercise into their daily lives.

“Mr. T,” as Tepper is known, puts in countless extra hours in the school gym, where he coaches a jump rope club before school twice a week.

He also leads daily after- school practices for Panther Pride, a performance and competitive unicycle team made up of riders of all ages. The team represents every school in the Valley and includes riders from surrounding communities.

Tepper introduced unicycling to Valley students more than two decades ago as part of a gym class on circus arts. Unicycling stuck, and now Panther Pride performs at special events like parades and half-time shows. The team also competes nationally and internationally.

Tepper said he just wants to see people exercising, however they do it, and he’s happy to provide alternatives to mainstream athletics.

“Kids need more options than just what the newspaper tells us is important in sports,” he said.

Building relationships with athletes and their families is the reward for Tepper’s extra hours.

“It’s just enjoyable being around those who are so enthusiastic. It kind of fills my cup that way, and I get to know them in a way that I would never get to know them if I just had them twice a week for P.E. And I certainly get to know many of the parents and the families in a more personal way,” he said.

The connections Tepper has created are evident when he’s greeted warmly by students.

“I love the fact that you can walk down a crowded hallway, and the kids come up to you and hug you just because you’re there,” he said. “And I like it when they come in here with a positive attitude, and I see them do things that they once thought they couldn’t.”

The “Teachers Light the Way” awards panel received almost 5,000 nominations from across the nation, and honored fewer than 50 educators. Tepper was nominated for the honor by Pamela Dowling, whose three children have been taught and coached by him. In her nominating essay, Dowling wrote, “I am so thrilled my children have had the opportunity to know Mr. Alan Tepper. He’s the type of person they won’t forget, and his teachings and philosophy will stay with them for a lifetime.”

• Do you know Valley residents who deserve recognition for their good work? Nominate them for Citizen of the Week, an award co-sponsored by the Valley Record and Replicator Graphics. Send your ideas to, or call (425) 888-2311.

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