Almost immediately following the announcement of the assault charges, past and present students, parents and community members started coming out in support of Hoppe, who teaches social studies and history classes at the Independence high school.
When Briana Stewart first heard about the allegations against longtime William Chrisman High School teacher Gene Hoppe, she was stunned.
A 2008 graduate of William Chrisman, Stewart was in Hoppe’s world history class, and as junior class president also worked with Hoppe on prom preparations. Hoppe is the junior class sponsor.
“Teaching is Mr. Hoppe’s life,” she said. “He would never do anything to jeopardize his career. He loves kids. Mr. Hoppe had been teaching at Chrisman since many of his administrators were in diapers. I know that Mr. Hoppe would never hurt a student.”
Hoppe, a 36-year teaching veteran, was charged with assault earlier this month following an incident with a student. In a police report released March 20, a female student said she and Hoppe were “playing around” at the end of class when Hoppe grabbed her right arm in an attempt to release pens the student was holding. According to the report, as a way to make Hoppe release her, the student kicked Hoppe. Hoppe admitted to police that he kicked the student back, but said the act was in “self defense.”
The student, who has not been identified by police, reported that she had injuries as a result from the incident. The police report said that she showed police officers a bruised area on the front middle of her shin and also said there was a bruised area on the “left side of her groin area.”
Hoppe is currently on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the school district’s investigation, which is still ongoing. Nancy Lewis, public information director with the school district, did not give a timeline as to when the investigation will be completed. Depending on the outcome, Hoppe could be terminated or return to class.
Telephone calls to Hoppe were not returned.
Almost immediately following the announcement of the assault charges, past and present students, parents and community members started coming out in support of Hoppe, who teaches social studies and history classes at the Independence high school. More than 70 comments have been left on the Examiner Web site in response to the story and a page on Facebook – www.facebook.com/pages/Gene-Hoppe/62651516049?ref=nf – has more than 800 fans, all in support of the teacher.
Pauline Adams, a 2006 graduate of William Chrisman, remembers Hoppe as an “amazing teacher.” She said he made class fun, making her and other students excited to go to class every day.
“It is a huge loss that he is not in class every day with the kids,” she said. “He is the kind of teacher that impacts your life forever. I have been out of school for three years, and I still think of things he taught me.”
Adams feelings of Hoppe are not unique. One parent wrote on The Examine’s Web site, “I have two daughters that graduated from Chrisman, both took classes from Mr. Hoppe. I have observed Mr. Hoppe in the classroom. Mr. Hoppe is a great teacher and has been valuable resource for William Chrisman the last 30 years.
Another student on the Facebook Web site, recalls Hoppe as a funny teacher that is loved by “practically all of his students.”
And still another student, a 1984 graduate of William Chrisman, said “You were a wonderful teacher. All these years have past and you are one teacher who I will always remember.”
But there were some who made comments against Hoppe, although only a few.
One person commented on The Examiner’s Web site, “I graduated from Chrisman in the mid-90s and knew Mr. Hoppe. He was a good man and a good teacher, but what he did was wrong and I regret to say it, but he probably should be punished.”
Another individual said that as long as Hoppe has been teaching, he should have “known better.” However, the reader said that if Hoppe is disciplined then the student should face action as well because she “should not have grabbed anything from a teacher.”
Regardless of negative public opinion, Mark Daily, a parent of two students who graduated from William Chrisman, said Hoppe has his “unconditional support” in regards to the allegations.
“Mr. Hoppe was a teacher, mentor and much more to my girls,” he said. “He made boring subjects fun. He was unanimously their favorite teacher.”
Stewart said she is certain the charges against Hoppe are false. He will appear in court Wednesday regarding the assault charge.
“Mr. Hoppe was amazing,” she said. “He had little classroom rituals he would do. “Zapping” (a classroom activity) is well known. He was a funny guy who always liked to mess around, yet, could cram your head so full of knowledge that you had no choice but to pass his next test.”