Zach Hopple joined the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, one of the best preserved historic light stations in the U.S., in August as the new programs manager, but he is certainly not new to history.
Mr. Hopple, 36, graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor's degree in history and was a high school teacher for 10 years at Dunbar High School in Fort Myers. He taught world history at all levels, from language acquisition learners to college credit advanced placement and international baccalaureate.
“I truly love history and feel so blessed to be here at this wonderful place,” he said.
A Florida native, he recently moved to the area with his wife, Sarah, who was an elementary school teacher, and their five-year-old son, Colton.
The programs manager position was eliminated last year when the pandemic started and schools were closed. As schools reopened this year, Mike Bennett, the director of operations for the Lighthouse, was looking for a certified teacher to expand the lighthouse programs and put more emphasis on education.
Mr. Hopple said he is “passionate about history and he is ready to try more hands-on history.”
He said school children are coming to the Lighthouse again, and staff and volunteers are going to the schools again through outreach programs that have been in place at the Lighthouse. He has many goals for expanding programs and wants to take them to “the next level educationally with a foundation in state curriculum.”
A virtual outreach program has been started that children can watch in class, and he talks enthusiastically about an upcoming “home school day” Nov. 18 they are hoping will attract 100 school children.
The lighthouse is expanding the volunteer base and reaching out to the community, going to libraries, schools and clubs. He describes a “lecture tour” in the community the Lighthouse has initiated.
He also wants to start a digital site as a supplement to the Lighthouse website, ponceinlet.org.
“I love everything here so far,” Mr. Hopple said. “The staff is wonderful, the volunteers are fantastic. I want to get kids interested in history. I want them to feel an excitement when they come to the Lighthouse.”