New teachers welcomed at Brownstown



Of the six teachers new to Brownstown Central Community School Corp., two have their own classrooms for the first time.

Chance Schmitt is settling in as a social studies teacher at Brownstown Central High School, while Darcy Harvey is the newest fourth-grade teacher at Brownstown Elementary School.

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Chance Schmitt

After graduating from Jasper High School in 2013, Schmitt headed to Indiana University unsure of his area of study.

On the drive home after his freshman year, his father brought up education.

“I had one conversation at the dinner table my junior year of high school, and my sister brought it up one time, and he just remembered that out of everything, so it obviously stuck with him,” the 23-year-old said. “We talked about it, and it kind of stuck in the back of my head all summer.”

For his sophomore year, he decided to follow the education track.

“The first two classes, I fell in love with it,” Schmitt said. “I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

He chose to focus on secondary education after job shadowing at middle schools in Oolitic and Bloomington, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in the winter of 2017.

Schmitt was a student teacher at his alma mater until November when he and his girlfriend moved to West Memphis, Tennessee, for her to do an internship. Schmitt worked at a pet shop part time for a while until landing a substitute teaching job at a high school in February.

Even though his degree was to teach social studies, he taught geometry at that school.

“It taught me a lot,” Schmitt said. “I had to learn how to learn again, and that was very difficult, especially math. Math was never my strength. Geometry, a little bit more so, but teaching those kids geometry was me learning alongside them.”

Schmitt said he didn’t know about a job opening at Brownstown until he received a call from Principal Joe Sheffer, who had been recommended by Indiana University to check out Schmitt’s résumé.

“It was potluck,” Schmitt said. “It was just like my first name is Chance, and I’ve been guided by it in everything. I’m just flying by the seat of my pants, and I’ve gotten very lucky. I’ve taken a chance on a lot of things. From birth onward, I’ve been nothing but taking chances.”

When he was born, the doctor told his parents he wouldn’t have a chance to live because of severe heart and lung issues.

“My parents named me Chance, I survived and look at this today,” he said, smiling.

Since he was six and a half hours away, school officials decided a Skype interview would work best. He wound up being the corporation’s first person to be hired that way.

This trimester, he is teaching two U.S. history classes and two government classes. It’s his first time teaching government. He said he has an emergency license in that subject but no formal training.

He talked to a teacher he knows in Jasper who used to just teach algebra but now teaches physics and loves it.

“He said he never would have taught physics had he not been forced to teach it, and now, he prefers it because it’s different from what he did, and he didn’t really realize it or know,” Schmitt said. “Whenever I got asked if I would teach government, it was, ‘No question. I will learn alongside them, and we’ll make it work.’”

Fortunately, he has the resources of longtime social studies teachers Paula Workman and Barry Cutter.

“I walked in the door, and I got ahold of Workman right away, and she has been nothing but helpful, a blessing,” Schmitt said. “Every single teacher I’ve run into, ‘How’s your first day? How are things going? Do you need help with anything?’ It’s all hands on deck.”

That’s comforting in his first year of teaching, he said.

“I’ve felt included in absolutely everything. They make you feel at home,” Schmitt said. “They are not like, ‘Oh, he’s the new guy. Don’t ask him.’ It’s ‘What do you think? Do you think this will work? You’re teaching U.S. history and government. You have a say in this. It’s not going to be my lesson plans. It’s your lesson plans.’

“It’s kind of a sense of ownership but having a net at the same time,” he said. “It takes a village, and they are here to help me. They are going to be the village that raises me, and we’ll be the village that raises these kids.”

Darcy Harvey

Harvey, a native of Brazil in western Indiana, said with several family members working in education, she grew up wanting to become a teacher.

But after graduating from Northview High School in 2011, she went to Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis with plans to follow a medical path of study.

That, however, only lasted a couple of months.

“I went right back to teaching, and that’s where I’ve been ever since,” the 25-year-old said.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in May 2016, and the next month, her husband, Devin, was hired as the certified athletic trainer at Brownstown Central High School. The couple then moved to Jackson County.

Harvey spent the next year covering maternity and medical leaves at Seymour Middle School and the Sixth Grade Center. She taught language arts and math.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, she learned of an instructional assistant position with Rachel Johnson’s special education kindergarten classroom at Brownstown Elementary School. She applied and was hired.

Then when an opening came in fourth grade this year, she again applied and was hired.

“I was working with students one-on-one, but then I got to see what Mrs. Johnson was doing, and she was an amazing teacher and mentor that even though she’s kindergarten, I can still turn to her about anything,” Harvey said.

“That was a good growing point for me, as well, and just working in special education was a great growing point, just the experience,” she said. “You do student teaching and go to college, but just getting yourself in there and doing it is your best learning that you could ever do.”

She is one of four fourth-grade teachers and spent about a month preparing her classroom. She recently met her students at an open house. There were only 28 at that time, but two more joined afterwards.

On the first day of school Tuesday, the first activity was having the students fill out a get-to-know-you paper.

“I really want to know you and your interests so that once we build this relationship, then I can take your interests and take what you want to do and turn it into our classroom learning environment,” Harvey said. “I’m excited to see them and get to know them and just see where this is going to go.”

A big focus this school year is reading the book “Wonder,” which has lessons of treating others with kindness and embracing differences.

Harvey and her husband recently moved to Brownstown, and she said they are excited to live and work in the community.

“We are not from this area, so it’s just exciting that this whole community has been very welcoming both to my husband and myself,” she said. “We’ve established ourselves here, and people have been really awesome here, and we’ve really grown in just the past two years with people, so it has been great.”

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