WEEKI WACHEE — Kimberly Koparan arrived at school very early Monday morning, which is nothing new, say those who know her.
In fact, Koparan's dedication to her job and the students at Weeki Wachee High School likely played a role in her being named 2012 Hernando County Teacher of the Year on Friday night during a banquet at the Palace Grand in Spring Hill.
"She does everything for the school, said Weeki Wachee junior Cynthia McDowell, 16, one of Koparan's English III students. "There wouldn't be any activities if it wasn't for her. Her life revolves around school."
Cynthia's classmate, Jacob Cimino, 17, agreed.
"She does everything for us," he said, "All the clubs, everything."
Koparan, 40, is the cheerleading coach and assistant track coach. She advises the student council and the junior class. She is the sponsor, or huddle leader, of the school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She trains other teachers in the CReating Independence through Student-owned Strategies program, or Project CRISS.
Oh, and she teaches English.
Koparan has a master's degree and is an education specialist. She has five daily classes, including a gifted English class.
American history teacher Don Kern is in a nearby classroom. He was one of Koparan's middle school teachers.
"I've known Kim since she was 12 years old," Kern said. "I come to her for advice."
When her name was called Friday evening, Koparan didn't know what to say.
"I didn't make a speech because I knew I wasn't going to win," she said. "I'm really shocked because everyone was of such high caliber. They were all wonderful."
Weeki Wachee High has only been in existence for two years, and has now produced two straight Hernando teachers of the year — both of them English teachers. Last year's winner was Angela Kennedy, another Koparan fan.
"She's phenomenal," Kennedy said. "She's my inspiration. She will work 24/7 nonstop. She's always thinking of a way to reach every single kid."
Koparan may have been surprised by her selection from a pool of finalists representing every school in the county, but few others were, among them 17-year-old Jason Morton, one of her English III students.
Morton thinks he knows why Koparan won.
"She's a very good teacher and she helps everybody else and she has a great heart, and I think she deserved it better than everybody else," he said.
The Hernando County Education Foundation's Teacher of the Year program is sponsored by several primary supporters, including Capital City Bank, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union's Suncoast for Kids Foundation and the Tampa Bay Times.