Mark Echstenkamper: An Educator of Excellence
On March 11, the Independence High School (IHS) Alumni Association recognized Mark Echstenkamper, math teacher and coach, with the “Educator of Excellence” Award. Alumni Association members and colleagues nominate these individuals.
Echstenkamper has been with the district since 1991. He teaches high school AP calculus, honors pre-calculus, calculus, and algebra 1 and 2. He has been the head baseball coach at IHS since 2000. He also has been the head boys golf coach for 15 years. In addition, Echstenkamper was the head softball coach, assistant varsity football coach, and assistant high school boys basketball coach. He also has been Independence Middle School boys and girls basketball and track coach. In his years of coaching, he has seen many league, regional and district championships and has received numerous Coach of the Year awards.
Dozens of colleagues and others in the community attended the recognition luncheon. City of Independence Mayor Anthony Togliatti presented him with a proclamation and proclaimed Monday, March 11, 2019, as “Mark Echstenkamper Day” in the City of Independence.
“Mark can always be counted on to bring his ‘A’ game to the classroom every day,” said Principal Bill McGuinness, Independence High School. “He treats students with respect, and they show it in return. His track record of success with the Advanced Placement Calculus program is simply amazing. Many of his students have saved thousands of dollars in college tuition, while building a strong foundation of mathematical skill for the future. The academic rigor that he provides for his students is outstanding.”
“I have known Mark since 1991 and had the honor of coaching softball, basketball, and golf with him,” said colleague and coach Karl Schuld. “Mark is the most passionate, hard working coach I ever worked with in Independence. Mark will forever be linked to Independence baseball but it is his work in the classroom that stands out to me. Mark developed hundreds of confident, high functioning math students over the last 27 years. This is a gift to the future that cannot be measured. Many of those students have gone on to careers that involve skills that Mark helped them learn.”
“My son Jake, played baseball for Mark where I saw how he cares more about the person, than the player,” said colleague Eric Wells. “Jake struggled in baseball at the beginning of his senior year. Mark always encouraged Jake and didn't quit on him. Jake finished that year on a high note, thanks to Mark.”
“Mark juggles a lot of responsibilities between family, classes, coaching and side jobs but is always in control and manages to stay balanced,” said colleague Kris Paulus. “He is a role model of patience, kindness and faithfulness to colleagues/students. I'm proud to have worked with him for over 25 years.”
Previous recipients of the Educator of Excellence Award include Joe O’Brien, Kendall Gunlicks, Fred Schuld, Jeffrey Enckler, Geraldine Kaftan and Scott Maretka. In its 11th year, the Independence High School Alumni Association does a great deal for the school district, its teachers, and students. They have given numerous scholarships to graduating seniors, totaling more than $8,000. They have made significant contributions to the school to help pay for robotics programs, banners, an iPod, athletic canopy, and national programs and speakers such as Rachel’s Challenge. Each year at the IHS Commencement, the Alumni Association provides Legacy ribbons to graduating seniors who have had parents graduate from the school.