A member of the Covington Catholic High School Hall of Fame, the Newport Central Catholic Hall of Fame, the Northern Kentucky Coaches Hall of Fame and the State of Kentucky Track and Cross-Country Coaches Hall of Fame, he is also a member of the American Association of Teachers of German and the Junior Achievement Board. He also won the prestigious Golden Apple Award in 1988.
Now, at the age of 70, Kaelin serves as the Covington Catholic bowling coach while teaching German and Junior Achievement Economics. But this academic year, he says, will be his last.
“To know that I have made a huge impact on someone’s life or career means so much to me,” Kaelin says.
“This is the goal of almost every teacher.”
Kaelin began teaching at Covington Catholic in 1963 after a year of student teaching at Newport Catholic. A graduate of Villa Madonna College (now Thomas More), he was originally offered $300 by Covington Catholic to teach two of the German classes.
“I thought that I was a millionaire making so much money,” he says.
But, he is quick to note: No teacher does it for the money.
“There are many teachers in our world today that make less than their real contributions in life,” he says. “I feel that I am just one of many. But as a teacher, I would be most happy to have touched every one of my students’ lives. I want them to know that I care about them and their future.”
There are some alumni who feel Kaelin needs another honor. Some of his former students want him to be given an honorary diploma so he can be recognized on one of the walls in the Griffin Centre alumni house adjacent to the school. Some have even said Kaelin could walk with this year’s outgoing class to receive the diploma.
Whatever happens, Kaelin says he wants to be remembered simply as a teacher.
“A teacher’s reward is not the big salary, but the satisfaction that your students are always grateful to you, and you will be remembered for eternity for what you have done for each of them,” he says. “That is what a teacher should mean to each student.”
His own students couldn’t have said it any better. Then again, maybe they could have – if they just thought back to the times they had Mr. Kaelin.