Changing the face of education

College of Education alumna, Eva Kleinpeter, devotes her life to promoting multidisciplinary learning and integrative education.

From the age of five, Dr. Eva Kleinpeter can remember her parents emphasizing the importance of education and hard work. Growing up poor in Layfette Parish, Louisiana, Eva began her education at Mouton Switch, a two-room segregated schoolhouse. Walking miles from her home to get to school, she recalls the teachers giving everything to help the students read and write. The early investment from her parents and teachers, combined with her ambitious spirit, led Eva to attend seven universities and earn multiple degrees with 20 unique certification areas.

After St. Antoine elementary school, Eva attended Paul Breaux High School, the only Black school in Layfette Parish, where students would be bussed from other areas. Attending college at University of Louisiana at Lafayette Public University, the only university in the area for one semester, Eva then got married and transferred to Southern University. Eva earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, as well as certifications in kindergarten education. She then went on to earn two master’s degrees from Southern University, one in elementary education and one in mass communications. Eva graduated with a Ph.D. from Kansas State University in curriculum and instruction, reading, with a minor in multicultural education and nursery school. While completing her Ph.D., Eva worked in the associate dean’s office, serving as a mentor to other doctoral candidates. She also worked in the reading lab in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and supervised student teachers. Eva retired after working 45 plus years from primary to the graduate level.

Within her work in education, Eva improved the way students learned advanced math, computer science and cursive writing. By utilizing an integrative learning approach, Eva taught students skills based on experiences they would encounter in their everyday lives.

“Primary children have been teaching me for more than a half of a century,” said Eva. “That is why many adults make so many positive remarks about their work and about the work that I am trying to do in this society. We all need to grow and help make this a great and better world for each and every one of us, individually and collectively.”

Eva’s classroom quickly became a model for many. Her work in teaching second-grade students computer science caught the attention of other educators who hoped to explore similar techniques. After purchasing her first computer with her own money, both Exxon and IBM donated a computer so her elementary students could learn to solve simple computer problems in BASIC, a programing language.

In addition to math and computer science, Eva developed revolutionary changes in teaching students writing techniques. She found that even adults at the CEO level did not retain the writing skills they were taught as elementary students. She noticed that teaching students to write letters in isolation proved too complicated and boring in the learning process, so she began teaching second graders to write simple letters and words that incorporated higher levels of letter formation and usage, as well as critical thinking and so much more. Eva refined her teaching method and discovered that she could teach 36 basic integrated skills, rather than 132 symbols and isolated skills. Over time, her students helped her reduce the number down to around 20. With the success of this method, Eva created the “Writing Made Easy System,” a patented workbook that teaches students the fundamentals of writing skills in 10-to-15-minute sessions. With the workbook, students can master the fundamental skills of writing in less than two weeks.

In addition to the published writing tablet, she is the author of several children’s books. The titles of the books are: “Ten Little Squirrels Playing in a Big Tall Oak Tree,” “The Adventures of Ten Little Squirrels,” and “Little Squirrels, Little Squirrels, What are You Doing?”.

In her mission to improve education and writing skills, Eva has donated thousands of her tablets and school supplies to students around the country. However, Eva’s commitment to philanthropy does not stop there. Eva continues to give back by volunteering at the public school near her home, in churches, libraries and other education centers. Eva supports multiple organizations through donations, such as a scholarship with Kappa Delta Pi International Education Honor Society as well as a scholarship and two endowed professorships at Southern University.

Eva and family are currently creating a scholarship for K-State’s College of Education. When asked what inspires her to give, Eva said: “We must all give back with the little we are paid and have as classroom teachers and/or educators. Education is the basic foundation for everything in this global and multicultural world. That is educational, physical, mental, financial, medical, emotional and so much more. Lastly, this is my way to say thanks to my parents, teachers, former employers, present/former students and all the people who showed me the way when I didn’t even know that there was a path for me to take!”

If you want to join Eva in support students in the College of Education, please visit Kansas State University · GiveCampus or contact Matt LaGree by email or at 785-775-2083.

Written by Ariana Brancato

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Matt LaGree Director of Development - Education