Goal is to empower young people through new experiences and technology –
Story and photo by Patricia Beech –
A simple truth by Dr. Seuss – “Oh, the things you can find if you don’t stay behind” more than aptly describes Principal Steve Appelman’s approach to education at Peebles High School – provide students with opportunities that will expand their horizons and you will open whole new worlds for their consideration.
“When I was growing up there were eight kids in our family so we didn’t go many places,” Appelman says. “I learned what the world was like by looking at books, but now, because of computers, students can watch videos that open up the world for them, and they can listen to people describe what faraway places look like, so it’s not as intimidating when they go out into the world and see things for the first time.”
Appelman grew up in the small village of Augusta, Ky. on the banks of the Ohio River and was graduated from the town’s local high school in 1978.
Because of his small town roots, he says he feels drawn to smaller schools in tight-knit communities.
“I was very excited to come to Peebles.This is an impressive community because people here really do care about their kids, their families, and their values, and I feel fortunate and proud to be a part of that.”
His small-town experiences have also furthered his belief that smaller schools have a unique capacity to offer students opportunities that would be unavailable to them in larger, more specialized schools. “There are kids here in Peebles who are in athletics, and in FFA, and all different types of activities which I believe will make them more well-rounded adults,” he said. “In larger, more specialized schools they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do different things like that.”
But, because isolation is a geographical fact of rural life, Appelman says it is also necessary that rural schools help open doors for their students by exposing them to new experiences that can positively impact their futures.
“The first time a student visits a university it can be a very intimidating experience,” he says. “To help our juniors understand what college life is like, our Guidance Counselor Beth Huntley took them to Ohio State and Wright State Universities so they could see what’s available for them when it comes time to pick a college.”
He also acknowledges that “college isn’t for everyone” and that schools must “find ways to help those students become productive members of society by helping them discover what it is they can do”.
“We’ve started a program to bring more technology into the school because it levels the playing field for everyone and allows our students to see what’s going on outside of Adams County and what’s available to them.”
A graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, Appelman worked 32 years in the Maysville/Mason County school system teaching History and coaching Varsity Boys Basketball. After retiring last year, he decided he wasn’t ready to stop working.
“This job became available, and the school board and Superintendent Seas gave me the great opportunity to come here and be a part of this community,” he said. “My plan is to make Peebles High School a great opportunity for our students, one that will guide them into their future.”