Aimee Rigsby doesn’t hide her obsession with tacos. Instead, she embraces it.
She has decorated her new classroom at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School with a taco theme. The only problem is it may make her hungry during the day.
Rigsby, 32, is a new first grade teacher for Seymour Community School Corp., but she’s no stranger to the classroom. This marks her eighth year in education.
Up until now, she had spent her entire teaching career at Crothersville Elementary School and loved every second, she said.
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"I was previously surrounded by some of the best educators in the county at Crothersville Elementary School," she said. "It was very difficult to leave such an awesome place."
But she decided she wanted a new challenge.
"I’m very excited about this new adventure," she said. "Moving to a larger district provides me more opportunities to grow as an educator."
The district welcomed 27 new teachers this school year.
Working at Seymour Community Schools, Rigsby said there’s a more diverse student population than she’s used to.
"I have never had the opportunity to work with ESL students, and I’m really looking forward to it," she said.
Although she has experienced first days of school before, Rigsby said she was probably more nervous Aug. 8 than her students.
She started the day with her traditional first-day-of-school breakfast — chicken nuggets — and instead of coffee, she made sure to have a Big Red on her desk.
"Big Red is my go-to, get-the-job-done drink," she said. "Caffeine helps me focus, and I’m not a coffee girl."
She also arrived at school early to go over her plans for the day and to take some deep breaths before the chaos of the first day of school began, she said.
Rigsby said her decision to become a teacher was influenced the most by her mother, who also is a teacher.
"I loved going into her classroom through the summer to play school and write on the chalkboard," she said. "As I got older, she would let me help grade papers, and I just loved it."
With a history of teachers on her mom’s side of the family, Rigsby said she thinks her love of being in the classroom, helping students learn and grow is hereditary.
Besides her mother, she also was influenced by her fourth grade teacher, Jennie Chase, whom she had, ironically, at Brown.
"I strive every day to make connections with my students as she did with us," Rigsby said. "She got to know our interests and our families. Those student/teacher connections are really what can make the year successful for each student."
Another teacher she tries to emulate is her English teacher at Seymour High School, Tim Perry.
"He kept us engaged and interested," she said. "He used songs and dances and didn’t care a bit how silly we thought he was. Every year, I try to bring something to my lessons that is wild, out of the box and keeps my students engaged, just like he did with our classes."
What she hopes her students learn from her is not just academic lessons but how to treat others with respect and kindness.
"Yes, math and reading are important, but how to treat others is just way more important in today’s world," she said.
Kyle Ahlbrand has fond memories of the time he spent as a student in Seymour Community Schools before graduating from Seymour High School in 2000. Now, 19 years later, he has returned to the school to teach algebra and geometry.
"When I first became a teacher, I always wanted to teach in the system and hometown that I was raised in," he said. "I am just excited to get started, and it is neat to be a part of a faculty where some of them had me as a student."
Although it was his first day as a teacher at SHS, Ahlbrand, 37, said he wasn’t nervous.
This marks his 16th year in education. He spent two years at Columbus North High School, two years at Waldron High School and the past 11 years at Austin High School.
He chose education as a career because of the friendships he developed with his teachers while a student.
"I had a very positive educational experience from Redding school, the middle school and at the high school growing up," he said. "I got to know a lot of teachers through academics and athletics that made school interesting."
One of those teachers was his middle school math teacher, Wayne Huddleston, who is now retired.
"Whether it was through academics or athletics, all of my teachers and coaches made an impact on me becoming a teacher and the person I am today," Ahlbrand said. "But one that put me on the path of teaching and being successful in math was Mr. Huddleston."
For Ahlbrand, teaching is about more than a particular subject. It’s about preparing kids to be successful adults.
"I will teach them to maximize their learning potential by giving effort, asking questions and not giving up if you miss a problem, which correlates to life," he said.
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Job: New First grade teacher at Margaret R. Brown Elementary
Educational background/work experience: Bachelor’s degree from University of Southern Indiana and master’s degree in curriculum and educational technology from Ball State University. Rigsby also is a certified Google trainer and is in her eighth year of teaching. All of her previous years had been at Crothersville Elementary School.
Outside interests/hobbies: Attending Pure Barre classes in Columbus, creating curriculum for teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers and eating tacos at El Nopal
Family: Husband, Phillip Rigsby; two stepkids, Josiah and Trey Rigsby; parents, Julie and Mike Knott and Bob and Shiela Stout; and the cutest dog in the world, Willy Rigsby
Job: New math teacher at Seymour High School
Educational background/work experience: Graduated from Seymour High School in 2000 and Purdue University in 2004. In his 16th year of teaching. He spent two years at Columbus North High School, two years at Waldron High School and the past 11 years at Austin High School.
Outside interests/hobbies: Golf, bowling and gaming
Family: Wife, Amber Ahlbrand; daughter, Tinley Ahlbrand, 6; parents, John and Leta Ahlbrand
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New Seymour Community School Corp. teachers for the 2019-20 school year
Becca Sutton: Speech/language pathologist at Seymour-Redding Elementary School and Seymour Middle School
Tapanga Burgess: Spanish teacher at Seymour High School
Ronald Thomas: Social studies teacher at SHS
Larissa Sanders: Special education teacher at Redding Elementary
Audry Frady: First grade teacher at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School
Aimee Rigsby: First grade teacher at Brown Elementary
Kyle Ahlbrand: Math teacher at SHS
Laura Handloser: Math teacher at SHS
Katherine Martin: Second grade teacher at Seymour-Jackson Elementary
Emily Essex: Fourth grade teacher at Jackson Elementary
Clinton Deck: Agriculture teacher at SMS and SHS
Kyra Myers: English Language Learners teacher at SHS
Tiffany Bruce: Title I instructional coach at Brown
Jessica Beecher: Special education teacher at Jackson
Melinda Autry: Special education teacher at SMS
Katy Nolting: Special education teacher at Redding
Jodi Tiemeyer: Math teacher at SHS
Tamara Alesia: English Language Learners teacher at Brown
Stephanie Pullen: English Language Learners teacher at Brown
Tyson Moore: Alternative education teacher at Jackson County Learning Center
Janice Gilles: Special education teacher at SHS
Winnie Weick: English teacher at SMS
Kathryn "Annie" Baugh: Math teacher at SHS
Shannon Kelly: Industrial technology teacher at SHS
Amy Hester: Technology teacher at SMS
Natasha Lewis: English Language Learners teacher at Jackson
Kirsten Lutes: Special education teacher at Emerson Elementary