Martha Bloch, a teacher at Immanuel Lutheran School, understands everyone doesn’t learn in the same way and specializes in working with students with dyslexia.
Teacher Jennifer Miller strives to make learning an adventure for her students at the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center.
As a teacher at Seymour High School, Kelly Reasoner believes she has the greatest job in the world.
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Because of their passion for education and their commitment to helping students succeed now and prepare them for the future, the three women were chosen as this year’s Teachers of the Year by the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce.
They received their awards and were recognized during the 88th annual chamber dinner Thursday night at Celebrations in Seymour.
Blessed to teach
Being named a Teacher of the Year allowed Bloch to reflect on her experiences as an educator.
She is thankful for the opportunity to work at Immanuel and in a community that supports Christian education, she said.
“I am blessed to be able to work with students who make me smile because they are honest and loving,” Bloch said.
Before coming to Immanuel, she taught various grade levels, from first through sixth grades, at Lutheran schools in Texas, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.
She taught first grade at Immanuel from 2000 to 2015 and now serves as the resource room teacher and a Title I tutor before and after school.
As a resource teacher, she works with first- through eighth-graders who need additional one-on-one instruction in order to succeed.
Although she’s not a regular classroom teacher, Bloch has just as much impact on students’ academic and personal achievements because of the individual attention she is able to give them.
Bloch, who is the wife of the Rev. Philip Bloch, associate pastor at Immanuel, said she has always enjoyed working with children and felt called to education as a way to use her skills to serve the Lord.
“I love being able to share my faith with the students I see each day,” she said.
She was encouraged to become a teacher by her mother, she said.
Watching students reach goals and then move the bar higher is inspiration for her own life, she said.
“Everything does not need to be done at once,” she said. “Instead, use patience and work toward goals a little at a time. Sometimes, you may feel that you are not making progress, but if you look back, you can see how much progress you have made.”
Bloch said she has many people to thank for supporting her aspirations and personal growth, including her fellow teachers and the staff at Immanuel.
“We work together as a team to meet the individual needs of all students,” she said. “All of them deserve this award, too.”
‘The best version of myself’
Miller said she was surprised by her nomination for the honor but is extremely proud to represent the Sixth Grade Center.
“It’s a great feeling to be recognized for something I truly love,” she said. “There are many wonderful teachers in our school district, and I feel very privileged to be included with them.”
This year marks her 21st year of teaching. She began her career in Goshen in 1998 and spent two years teaching sixth-grade language arts before teaching fifth grade for one year.
The Millers moved to Seymour in the summer of 2001 and Jennifer taught at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School for two years before her transfer to Seymour Middle School, where she began teaching sixth-grade social studies.
Although social studies is her main subject, she still puts a major emphasis on language arts, she said.
“Our students go from large language arts blocks in elementary and come to the middle school to much shorter language arts classes,” she said. “There is not enough time for those teachers to cover everything, so I work hard to make reading standards a primary focus in my classroom.”
Had she not become a teacher, Miller said she might have followed a very different career path.
“In fifth grade, I had a very special teacher who had a love of science and geography,” she said. “She was a candidate for the teacher in space program, and I decided that year that I either wanted to be a teacher like her or an aeronautical engineer.”
As an assignment, Miller and her classmates wrote letters to themselves about their future goals, which their teacher kept until they graduated from high school.
Fast forward to her freshman year at Purdue University, and that letter helped put her on the path to becoming a teacher.
“While I loved math and science, engineering and design was not for me,” she said. “I am an outgoing person and love working with people. I knew I wanted to make a difference just like my fifth-grade teacher, so I changed my major and never looked back.”
Now, she can’t imagine doing anything different or having a more fulfilling career.
“Learning is an adventure, and when you teach a subject you are passionate about like I do, every day is different and rewarding,” she said.
She describes teachers as “fun, engaging, caring, hardworking and a joy to be around” and says their influence is far-reaching.
“Without teachers, we would not have problem solvers, critical thinkers or service learners that impact the world,” she said.
Being a teacher also has taught her a lesson or two over the years, and much like her students, she still has plenty to learn, she said.
“I have learned to step back and allow students to actively make connections,” she said. “We live in a global community, and with technology today, we can connect instantly with people all over the world. My role is to help my students become global citizens.”
Miller said she was influenced early on by several of her teachers who truly cared about her and came to school every day loving their job.
“I try daily to be the best version of myself that I can be for my students,” she said. “I am challenged every year to grow in compassion and wisdom, and that is something these teachers modeled.”
At the end of the day, it’s not the curriculum or the content that students remember years later, she said.
“It’s the life lessons they take away from our time spent with them in the classroom,” she said.
Teaching is a family affair for the Millers. Jennifer’s husband, Scott, is a longtime teacher at Seymour High School, and their daughter, Katy, is an elementary education major at Purdue.
“I am proud that she has chosen to follow in my footsteps,” Jennifer said of her daughter. “We are in the business of education because we feel a calling to empower students to love learning and to be the best person they can become.”
‘I love my students’
Reasoner has been teaching for a decade and started her career at the former Parkview Junior High School in New Castle.
She taught in New Castle for five years before moving to Seymour, at which time she became a stay-at-home mom for her three sons for the next 11 years.
She returned to the classroom in August 2014 at Seymour High School, where her husband, Talmadge Reasoner, is the assistant principal.
“He is great at listening to my ideas for my lessons, allowing me to spend time at night and on the weekends on my papers that I need to grade or my lessons that I need to plan,” she said. “He is always there to cheer me on and support me.”
Her classes, which are comprised of freshmen through seniors, include honors algebra, integrated math, geometry and geometry for English language learners.
“I love my students. I love math. Math rocks,” she said. “I have the greatest job in the world. I get to work with our youth and teach my favorite subject.”
Reasoner said she is very humbled by being named Teacher of the Year and feels many of her colleagues are equally deserving.
Growing up in a household where both of her parents were teachers, Reasoner said she loved everything about school.
“I loved helping my mom in her classroom and would beg my parents to let me help them grade papers,” she said.
That desire to help played a big role in her decision to become a teacher.
“I have always wanted to help others and found this to be the best way in which to serve,” she said.
As an educator, Reasoner said she learns just as much from her students as they learn from her.
“They have taught me to be flexible, to multitask, to embrace the mistakes and to cherish every moment,” she said.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Winners at the 88th annual Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce awards dinner
Educators of the Year: Martha Bloch (Immanuel Lutheran School), Jennifer Miller (Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center) and Kelly Reasoner (Seymour High School)
Rising Star Award: Mindy Roeder
Small Business of the Year: B.loved
Corporate Citizen of the Year: Rose Acre Farms
Citizenship Award: Marshall Royalty