Even before her freshman year, Seymour High School senior Tess Allman knew she wanted to take Latin.
She had heard good things about Latin teacher Debbie Schneider, who most students referred to as Mag.
“From the first day of class, I knew right away that everyone was right,” Allman said. “Mag has taught me more than just Latin. She’s the type of role model that every student needs in their life.”
Allman said it is evident every day in class that Schneider, who has taught for 38 years, wants to be teaching and wants her students to succeed.
“Being so passionate about her career has taught me to never settle for less,” Allman said. “I am grateful to have spent three years learning countless lessons from Mrs. Schneider that will stick with me for the rest of my life.”
Allman thanked Schneider during the school’s annual Most Influential Teacher Recognition Dinner on May 5 at The Pines Evergreen Room in Seymour. The event kicked off National Teacher Appreciation Week, which was May 6 through 10.
Nine senior scholar candidates honored their most influential teachers in speeches and presented them with plaques at the banquet. Two teachers — SHS math teacher Ann Tormoehlen and social studies teacher Shane Fallis — were recognized twice.
This year’s scholars are Allman, Jessica Blevins, Delaney Cummings, Nicole Elmore, Natalia Garcia, Brandon Holtman, Elizabeth Lenart, Baleigh Penrose and Emma Ramp.
Principal Greg Prange said the students did a “wonderful job picking some wonderful teachers.”
“It really reminds us of why everybody in this room and everybody in all schools across the nation, why they got into education,” he said.
Business teacher Cathy Reasoner, who has taught for 14 years, played a major role in Blevins’ decision to study accounting and finance in the fall at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.
It was Reasoner’s assistance with arranging a work-based learning opportunity for Blevins that led to her future career choice, she said.
“I realize I’ve been positively impacted by many teachers and staff over these past four years,” Blevins said. “However, the guidance, encouragement and support that Mrs. Reasoner has provided for me has been a significant factor in helping me to become a Seymour Scholar candidate. She has never failed to keep me moving forward in pursuit of my academic goals.”
Cummings, who plans to study biology at Purdue University, chose SHS math teacher Kelly Reasoner as the teacher who influenced her the most.
But Reasoner, who has taught for 10 years, was not only a teacher, she also was a mentor and friend, Cummings said. It was at Reasoner’s suggestion that Cummings decided to get more involved in extracurricular activities.
“As my teacher, she encouraged me to perform to my fullest capabilities,” Cummings said. “As my mentor, she led me to join and take a leadership role in student government and Dance Marathon, which has shaped my character beyond belief.”
Cummings said Reasoner is a great teacher because she “really cares about her students.”
“I will always be grateful for the support she gave me in all my endeavors,” Cummings said.
Although most people wouldn’t consider Advanced Placement calculus fun, Nicole Elmore said her teacher, Ann Tormoehlen, who has taught for 20 years, finds ways to make students like it.
“Even if you don’t enjoy math, it’s easy to enjoy her class because it’s a great escape from the stress of everyday life, even though calculus causes some of that stress,” Elmore said.
Although there are plenty of tests and homework, there’s more to Tormoehlen’s class than just math, Elmore said. Along with advanced equations, students learn life lessons, Elmore said.
“Mrs. T is brilliant, kind, comical and very stressful, all while taking care of her family,” Elmore said. “Someday, I hope to be at least half the person she is.”
Elmore will attend Indiana University in the fall to study nursing.
Tormoehlen also was honored by Garcia. As a bilingual student, Garcia has spent a lot of her own time tutoring students and helping translate for Spanish-speaking classmates and their families.
She plans to attend IUPUI in the fall to study energy engineering.
Garcia said Tormoehlen teaches “not only from the mind, but from the heart.”
“I would like to say thank you for helping us break boundaries and build bridges to success,” Garcia said. “Thank you for believing in us and our potential to do whatever we set our minds to do.”
Without his seventh grade social studies teacher, Maria Hauersperger, student Brandon Holtman said he wouldn’t be where he is today: A Seymour Scholar candidate with plans to attend Purdue University in the fall for exploratory studies.
“Back in seventh grade, I was not motivated or driven to excel in school anywhere close to the extent I am now,” he said. “She inspired me, a shy seventh grader, to try my best and to nurture my education.”
Hauersperger doesn’t just teach social studies, he said. She instills a love of knowledge and self in her students.
“Mrs. Hauersperger is just the kind of teacher who wraps her students in a blanket of support and love, and I was no different,” he said. “I am lucky to have been able to have her as a teacher.”
Comparing Fallis to a father figure, Lenart said he cares about more than his students’ grades.
“He never failed to make sure each of his students was doing OK and that they were willing to put forth the effort to be successful,” she said.
Fallis has been a teacher for 28 years.
One day while writing a makeup essay for his class, Lenart said she was convinced she would fail, but she was consoled and encouraged by Fallis.
“On the edge of tears, Mr. Fallis assured me that I was going to do all right and that I knew more than I thought I did,” she said. “Mr. Fallis is completely invested in his classes and myself. That is why I have chosen him as my most influential teacher.”
Lenart will attend Purdue University this fall for exploratory studies.
Ramp also honored Fallis. She plans to attend Indiana University in the fall to study biology on a premed track.
It was actions other than teaching, like writing recommendation letters, providing students with breakfast before they took the AP history test and taking an interest in students’ athletic careers, that made Fallis stand out as an educator, Ramp said.
“Mr. Fallis is a kind and thoughtful teacher who is always ready to help students succeed and truly wants the best for all his students,” she said. “Mr. Fallis’ actions attest to the fact that he is never hesitant to sacrifice his time to help a student and wishes to see them reach their potential.”
When she entered kindergarten 12 years ago, Penrose said she was scared to start a new school. That is until she met Gayla Kaiser, a resource teacher.
“I knew nothing about what would happen, so having someone like you with me during those times helped my anxiety,” Penrose said.
Eventually, when Penrose left elementary school to attend Seymour Middle School, Kaiser, who has spent 34 years as an educator, ended up being transferred to the same school.
“Just having a familiar figure all the way through eighth grade made it so much more bearable, granted I didn’t intend for you to follow me through middle school,” Penrose said.
But Kaiser’s presence is what Penrose needed. In high school, she went on to be successful as a clarinet player for the Marching Owls and ranked 16th in the state for the Girls Go CyberStart coding contest along with being named a Seymour Scholar.
After high school, she plans to study computer science.
“Your practical reassurance helped me to adapt to a normal school life,” Penrose said. “For that, I wanted to give you this plaque as a representation of my appreciation to you.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Most influential teachers as chosen by 2019 Seymour Scholar candidates
Debbie Schneider;Seymour High School;Tess Allman
Cathy Reasoner;Seymour High School;Jessica Blevins
Kelly Reasoner;Seymour High School;Delaney Cummings
Ann Tormoehlen;Seymour High School;Nicole Elmore
Ann Tormoehlen;Seymour High School;Natalia Garcia
Maria Hauersperger;Seymour Middle School;Brandon Holtman
Shane Fallis;Seymour High School;Elizabeth Lenart
Gayla Kaiser;Seymour Middle School;Baleigh Penrose
Shane Fallis;Seymour High School;Emma Ramp