Seymour teachers honored by Chamber of Commerce


A Seymour High School physical education teacher and swim coach, a Seymour Middle School music and band instructor and a Seymour-Jackson Elementary second-grade teacher.

All three have varied backgrounds and interests but share the same passion for teaching their students the lessons they need now to grow into smart, responsible adults and productive citizens in the future.

Dave Boggs, Ellen Mirer and Kristi Burbrink were honored Thursday night as the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce’s Educators of the Year.

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Those receiving the award are nominated by their fellow teachers, former students and the community. A chamber committee then selects the winners from the nominations.

Awards were presented during the chamber’s 86th annual dinner at Celebrations in Seymour.

Other winners were Sara Bane with the Rising Star Award for her volunteer work with the Seymour Area Farmers Market; Klaes Chiropractic Clinic, Small Business of the Year; Excel Manufacturing, Corporate Citizen of the Year; and Deb Bedwell, Citizenship Award for her work as director of Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry.

Boggs, who has taught physical education for 33 years and coached swimming for 40, said he was both humbled and honored to receive the recognition because there are so many outstanding teachers at the high school.

He started full time at Seymour in the fall of 1984 and teaches physical education, adapted physical education for special needs students, health, team sports and aquatics and taught driver’s education when it was offered as an in-school program.

He believes it is his work to provide physical education options, including swimming, for special needs students that has made him stand out in the field.

Boggs said he decided to become a teacher because of the mentors he had as a student.

“Growing up in Muncie, I felt I always had great teachers and coaches that were a strong influence, and I wanted to follow in their footsteps,” he said. “One in particular, Tom DeWitt, gave me my start with physical education and swimming.”

He also gives credit to former Seymour teachers and coaches Donna Sullivan, Marty Lewis and Joe Goodman for making a difference in his career.

Boggs said he hopes to provide his students with the same sense of guidance, direction and purpose he received from those who taught him and have supported him over the years.

Being a teacher isn’t easy, but it’s also never boring, especially in Indiana, Boggs said. Whether it’s a major snowstorm, fog or a severe thunderstorm, weather can have a major impact on a classroom and team schedule, especially if the lights go out or school is delayed or canceled.

“You learn to be flexible with daily curriculum, weather conditions and to just be prepared, the best one can, for the unexpected,” he said.

More than three decades in education may seem like a long time, but Boggs said his students help keep him feeling young and energetic.

Besides teaching and coaching the high school swim team, he also manages the Shields Park Pool during the summer and coaches competitive youth swimming.

“I love watching the students learn and grow into young adults and become good citizens,” he said.

Mirer is in her 34th year of teaching music and band, having started in 1983 at Hamilton Southeastern High School. She taught there for three years before coming to Seymour.

She currently teaches sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade band and seventh- and eighth-grade general music and helps with the Seymour High School band. She also is an animal advocate and is heavily involved with the Humane Society of Jackson County.

“I loved being in the band when I was in school, and I thought it would be fun to be a band director,” she said. “My love for music goes back to being a small child and just loving and being interested in music.”

Her biggest role models for teaching included her father, who was a math teacher and football coach for many years; her middle school band teacher, Dr. Susan Taylor; and her high school band director, Cliff Lehman.

“The band directors I had in Yorktown, where I grew up, were top notch in their field,” she said. “I was definitely one of those kids who hung around the band room all the time. It has just been a way of life for me for most of my life.”

Unlike most teachers, who have 25 to 30 kids in their class, Mirer said she teaches more than 300 students every day.

“I suppose the fact that I have been teaching for so long and have had so many students is why I was nominated,” she said.

But the students are her favorite part of the job and the reason she continues to do it, she said.

“I enjoy being around middle school kids,” she said. “It is never dull.”

Mirer said she feels lucky to be a part of the Seymour Community Schools family and is thankful for several mentors. Those include retired middle school band volunteer Les Gilkey, retired band director Steve McGrew, middle school language arts teacher Cheryl Fenton, band director Kevin Cottrill, assistant directors Debbie Carroll and Kyle Lutes and middle school Principal J.B. Royer.

“Seymour is a great place to teach,” she said. “I really feel like the teachers are supported by the administration.”

Although she was excited to receive the award, Mirer said it also has made her realize a few things.

“I am not perfect and still have so much to learn and do,” she said. “Seymour Middle School has so many great, innovative teachers who really work hard every day. I am just happy that I have been able to make a career out of what I love to do.”

Burbrink doesn’t have near as many years in as Boggs and Mirer yet, but she still has made her mark as an effective and respected teacher for Seymour Community Schools.

She started her career at Seymour-Jackson Elementary in 2013, when she was hired two weeks into the school year to teach a sixth kindergarten class at the school.

The following year, she was moved to second grade and has been teaching at that level ever since.

“I have always loved learning,” she said. “I remember growing up in elementary school and my dream job was always to be a teacher. As I grew older, I continued to love school and knew it was the perfect career for me.”

She had many educators in her life who inspired her to become a teacher, she said, including Jill Stuckwisch and Jane Meadows at Brownstown Elementary School, where Burbrink worked as a student teacher and was first employed.

“I can’t thank them enough for giving me experience in the classroom,” she said. “I learned so much from them in the short amount of time I spent in their classrooms.”

A couple of things she said she learned from her early experiences was that in order to be a successful teacher, she could never give up and to always be flexible.

“Change is often a good thing,” she said.

Burbrink said she was surprised and excited to find out she had been selected as an Educator of the Year.

“There are so many great teachers in Seymour. I am really not certain how it’s narrowed down to just three,” she said. “I guess I would say it’s because I truly love my career and my colleagues recognized my passion and dedication to education.”

There are many people in her life who have helped make her the teacher she is today, she said, including her parents, Jack and Linda Gilbert, her husband, Matt Burbrink, and their daughters, Mia and Marlie.

“He and my daughters often sacrifice time with me so I can teach and inspire ‘my kids,’” she said.

Winning an award is nice, but the real reward for teaching is her students, Burbrink said.

“The reason I love teaching so much is seeing the success and smiles of students every day,” she said. “I have the unique opportunity to teach so many different students, and they often teach me new things.”

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Award winners at the 86th annual Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce dinner

Educators of the Year: Kristi Burbrink, second-grade teacher at Seymour-Jackson Elementary School; Ellen Mirer, music teacher and band director at Seymour Middle School; Dave Boggs, physical education and health teacher and swimming coach at Seymour High School

Rising Star Award: Sara Bane for her volunteer work with the Seymour Area Farmers Market

Small Business of the Year: Klaes Chiropractic Clinic

Corporate Citizen of the Year: Excel Manufacturing

Citizenship Award: Deb Bedwell, director of Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry


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