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Perry Thapa of Nepal is 2012 Battey National Educator of the Year

April 14, 2012

Perry Keil Thapa, an American citizen who teaches at a high school in Nepal, is the 2012 recipient of the Battey National Educator of the Year Award. Administered by DePauw University's Honor Scholar Program, the Battey Award recognizes a teacher who inspired a current DePauw Honor Scholar while that student was attending a high school, middle school or elementary school.

Shreeya Neupane, a DePauw senior, nominated Thapa. The award will be presented Thursday, May 3, at 5:30 p.m. at DePauw's Prindle Institute for Ethics.

Thapa has been teaching at Rato Bangala School in Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur, since 1996. Her subjects have included language, literature and English as a first language.

"Miss Perry wanted us to be critical and analytical at every step," Neupane wrote in her letter. "Although as a college student, and especially an Honor Scholar, these are qualities that are expected of me, it is not a concept that is frequently used in Nepal ... She did not want us to be indifferent about what we learned and she always demanded we question the text." She added, "Everyone knew getting an A in Miss Perry’s class was no joke. She demanded a level of consistent effort that none of the other teachers did. But, knowing how much effort Miss Perry put into the class, it seemed disrespectful to put in any less."

According to her former pupil, "I think the need to do my best in every project I embark on is something I learned from Miss Perry." Her letter concluded, "Miss Perry’s awareness of and sensitivity towards Nepali culture is commendable. When we wrote papers for her class, she always told us to draw on who we were and what we knew. That was the only way of writing a piece that was genuine and sincere. It was not limited to just papers. She always inspired us to be honest with ourselves and be comfortable in our own skins. Without that lesson I would be absolutely lost in college."

The class valedictorian at Doherty Memorial High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, Thapa earned her bachelor's degree at East College tall xzCarleton College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude in 1989. She began teaching that year in Nepal at the American Language Institute in Kamaladi, then taught at Rupy's Pre-Primary School in Ravi Bhawan, Kathmandu, from 1991-95.

The Battey National Educator Award provides a $7,500 honorarium for Thapa and a $1,500 grant for Rato Bangala to be applied, with suggestions from the winner, to programs at the school. 

A gift by Charles and Joan (Westmen) Battey created the endowment which funds the award, which was first presented in 2008. Mrs. Battey is a 1954 graduate of DePauw.

Gregory Lewis, a social studies teacher at Indiana's Columbus East High School, won the inaugural Battey Award.  The 2009 honoree was Andrew Goodwin, a Spanish teacher at Covenant Christian High School in Indianapolis, while the 2010 recipient was Bruce R. Myers, a teacher at Willoughby South High School in Ohio. Last year's award went to Stephanie Nagelkirk, instructor of English at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities at Ball State University.

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