Alida Droppert, assistant professor of education, finds joy in her students, her active lifestyle and Pella—settling in the small town after decades traveling the globe.
It’s a brisk day outside. And it’s starting to get a little warm in the LEED platinum-rated Roe Center on campus. The students want to open the windows, and not just because they are a bit overheated. As they try to crack the windows, the giggling starts. “Conditions are such that the windows should remain closed,” says a soothing British voice. Assistant professor of education Alida Droppert knows the voice all too well—it’s her own.
The talking windows are integrated into the building’s automated system, telling occupants the appropriate times for them to be open or shut. When Roe was being built, Droppert was asked to record a few phrases—unaware of their intended purpose—and found herself famous among her students, even if she is reticent to admit it is her voice.
“I had no idea what the phrases were for,” she says with a laugh. “I think they chose me because I have a distinctive voice, and it might get noticed.”
Before coming to Central College and taking on the persona of the windows, Droppert traveled the world for her educational and career pursuits. A native of Chester, England, she attended the Chester College and later Michigan State University for her master’s in elementary education and Ph.D. in education administration. After obtaining her degrees, she taught for more than 20 years around the world, in countries which include Taiwan, Zambia, Indonesia, Bulgaria and Hungary.
Droppert came to Central in 2007 after her husband passed away in a skiing accident the previous year. Since she had worked with her husband for many years in the same schools, Droppert needed a place to shape a new life. She looked at the Central website and found international flags, faculty photos and “The Dutch” mascot—it looked like home. Her father was from Holland and the people and places reminded Droppert of her international upbringing.
“It’s a lovely place,” says Droppert. “Central has a wonderful ethos, a very welcoming atmosphere. I knew I’d be happy here, and this has been the case.”
As an education professor, Droppert is enthusiastic about her students and about teaching class every day—and it shows in her work. In 2011, she received the Dr. John Wesselink Faculty Award for Outstanding Performance: Professional Development. Her bubbly attitude and optimism rub off on her students, but Droppert credits those same students for her upbeat personality.
“I think the students here are fantastic,” she says eagerly. “They’re kind, caring and sincere. I like interacting with young people. I’m outgoing, and it’s been a joy to me—every day and every student.”
When Droppert isn’t in the Roe Center teaching, she enjoys her various hobbies, including reading, playing tennis, swimming, cycling, hiking, golf, scuba diving and supporting the arts. With so many interests, it seems impossible to indulge in every one, but she finds a way—playing indoor tennis year-round, exploring Pella’s Red Rock area and attending arts events on campus and in Des Moines. She won a gold medal in mixed-doubles tennis with Sid De Haan ’59 at the 2012 Iowa Games and was the Female Senior Grandmaster for the 2011 Capital Pursuit Iowa 5K Championship.
Although she loves staying active, Droppert’s true passions are living a joyful life and education.
“I work hard to maintain a quality of life and find myself smiling every day,” Droppert says. “I enjoy learning and keeping an open mind to be receptive to new ideas. I work to inspire my students to be academically successful and live their lives to the full, reflecting the wonderful life I have had and my enthusiasm. I feel blessed every single day to have had an education and career that has afforded me so many opportunities and brought me to Central.”