Cortland gets new school leader


A four-star Seymour elementary school will have a new leader when classes start in August.

The Seymour school board named Lori Lister principal at Cortland Elementary School, the district’s smallest school, during a special meeting Tuesday.

Lister, who replaces Diane Altemeyer, is in her eighth year working for the Seymour school corporation. She most recently served as assistant principal at Seymour-Redding Elementary School for the past year. She also served as assistant to the principal at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School. Before that she was a classroom teacher at Emerson and Brown elementary schools.

In early June, Altemeyer took a different position with the school corporation as director of federal programs, replacing Jeff Klakamp who will return to the classroom this fall as a language arts teacher at the sixth-grade center.

Along with Lister, 29, the board also approved the hiring of 2003 Brownstown Central graduate Loriann Wessel, 30, to serve as assistant principal at Seymour Middle School. She will join new Principal J.B. Royer, who was promoted in June after former Principal Doug McClure resigned to become principal of Brownstown Central Middle School.

Both Lister and Wessel received two-year contracts. Details, including salary and benefits, are being negotiated, Superintendent Rob Hooker said.

He expects an official agreement between the school board and the teachers union to be reached later this month after collective bargaining ends, he added.

Lister said she loved being a teacher but wanted to become an administrator to take on even more responsibilities.

“I enjoyed helping the 25 or so students in my classroom, and I wanted to make a bigger impact by helping a whole school,” she said.

Although being a principal comes with different demands, Lister said, she can’t wait to start.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I’m ready to help support the staff in helping students grow and watching them learn and working with the parents and the community members out there.”

Lister said one of the most important skills she has developed in her administrative duties thus far is communication.

“I think communication is key when you’re working in administration with teachers, communicating with the students and the parents,” she said.

She also said her knowledge as a teacher will benefit her in her transition and in maintaining the school’s record of academic excellence.

“I have an understanding of how students learn, the curriculum and the different things going on here at Seymour Schools,” she said.

Wessel, who lives in Brownstown, has spent the past eight years teaching social studies, including government, economics and psychology, at Salem High School in Washington County. She said she’s excited about the opportunity to return to Jackson County.

The reason she decided to leave the classroom for an administrative job is the need for more teacher support, she said.

“I think as an administrator that’s the number one thing you can do is support your teachers, whether it’s behavioral issues with students or the need for professional development, and that was something I was seeing and kind of already doing anyways through my work on committees,” she said. “I thought I would be better served in that position.”

Wessel also said she wants to be active in the school’s move to 1:1 technology, where all students are issued a Chromebook or laptop style computer to use in class and at home.

“With the ever-changing education world, there is an increased need for technology, and that’s something as a teacher I had been cultivating,” she said. “Different ways to use technology to allow the students to earn their own knowledge as opposed to teachers just telling them what they need to know.”

She also hopes to be able to work with teachers on developing the professional use of technology in their classrooms.

“As a teacher, relatively young, I feel like that’s a big perk that I have going into the situation,” she said. “To be able to stay on top of the technology.”

Wessel said she is looking forward to becoming a part of the Seymour Schools team.

“You can tell the teachers work hard and the students really want to seek out their education,” she said. “Looking at the legacy the former principal has left and the way these students have risen to the occasion to improve, it really is encouraging.”

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”New administrators for Seymour Community Schools” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: Lori Lister

Age: 29

Residence: Seymour

Position: New principal of Cortland Elementary School

Experience: Eight years with Seymour Community Schools including most recently as assistant principal at Seymour-Redding Elementary. She also served as assistant principal at Margaret R. Brown Elementary and was a classroom teacher before that at Emerson Elementary and Brown.

Education: 2003 graduate of Seymour High School; 2007 graduate of Ball State University with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education; 2011 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan with a master’s degree in education. She completed the principal licensure program through Indiana Wesleyan in 2014.

Family: Husband, Kevin Lister; children, Zachary, 4, Noah, 11 months

Name: Loriann Wessel

Age: 30

Residence: Brownstown

Position: New assistant principal of Seymour Middle School

Experience: Eight years as a social studies (government, economics and psychology) teacher at Salem High School in Washington County.

Education: 2003 graduate of Brownstown Central High School; 2007 graduate of Indiana University with bachelor’s degree in secondary education; 2012 graduate of Ball State University with a master’s degree in educational administration

Family: Husband, John; and daughter, Carly, 3


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