Debra Peppers

St. Louis, MO | Years Taught: 1974 – Present

One of Debra’s original plays, “Choices,” dealing with teen issues such as peer pressure, eating disorders, drugs, teen pregnancy, and suicide was purchased by Southwestern Bell Telephone and made into a nationally distributed documentary, which eventually won an Emmy Award. Peppers considers her drama and speech classes a “dress rehearsal” for real life experiences. Her classes create, direct, and produce original public service announcements on literacy, child abuse, alcoholism, and school dropouts. She designed a “zero hour” (before school) credit class in technical theater that stemmed from a district mini-grant and now has a two-year waiting list. Each class is allowed to select its own six-week project. Students originate ideas such as developing workshops to include the middle school, ecology play for elementary schools, library instructional videos, lunch time cafeteria performances, and co-projects with other schools. She believes teachers must never forget that public schools are for the public and everyone must take ownership.

Additional Recognition

  • 2002 • Story published in “Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul”
  • 2001 • National Federation of Press Women Inductee
  • 2001 • Keynote speaker at the Crystal Cathedral International Women’s Conference
  • 2000 • Outstanding Alumni Award, Webster University
  • 2000 • Resolution of Honor by State of Missouri House of Representatives
  • 1999 • Chicken Soup for Teachers
  • 1995 • Missouri State Technology Award
  • 1994 • St. Louis Hometown Hero Award
  • 1991 • World of Difference Award, B’nai B’rith
  • 1990 • Recipient of the Robert Elsea Award: Outstanding Educator in St. Louis Count
  • 1990 • Missouri State Teacher of the Year finalist
  • 1989 • Kiwanis Golden Rule Award
  • 1989 • Emerson Electric Excellence in Education Award