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Largo High history teacher dresses like Abe Lincoln, earns both love and respect from students

Mike Klapka has taught for 38 years
Mike Klapka history teacher Abe Lincoln
Mike Klapka history teacher
Posted at 3:06 AM, Feb 19, 2019

LARGO, Fla. — Largo High School’ s Mike Klapka is the teacher who dresses up like Abe Lincoln.

The 62-year-old U.S. History teacher wears red, white and blue socks and ties. He hangs posters of patriotic superheroes Captain America and Superman on his classroom walls.

“I always tell them we’re going to have fun in here today, even if it’s only me having it,” says Klapka. “You have to show enthusiasm.”

Klapka has taught at Largo High for 37 years.

For students, he's the teacher they'll remember fondly all their lives.

“He doesn’t talk down to us, he talks with us,” says Iris, a Largo senior who says she’s learned more in Klapka’s class than any other. “He treats us like people.”

“History is, in large part, about telling stories," say Klapka. "So I tell stories they can relate to."

He hears from students long after they moved on to adulthood.

Just this week, a student who graduated from Largo High years ago surprised him with a gesture of thanks.

“She got me tickets so I could go see Hamilton with her,” Klapka says. “The fact that they come back after 20, 30 years to connect, that affirmation, is just incredible.”