Four teachers start new positions at Medora



Being back in the science classroom at Medora Junior-Senior High School is nostalgic for Leah Young.

Going to Medora schools from kindergarten to 12th grade, she spent time in that room as a student.

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Also, when she looks out the windows, she sees the home in which she grew up.

Now, instead of sitting in a desk as a student, she’s behind the teacher’s desk as the school’s new science teacher.

“It is definitely weird sitting here instead of there,” she said while stationed at her desk three days before the start of the new school year. “It’s crazy. It’s a very surreal feeling.”

Young is one of four new teachers for 2020-21 at Medora. The others are Ange Arthur, K-12 art; Riley Morris, high school computer science; and Rebecca Lanier, high school English/language arts.

Leah Young

Young graduated from Medora High School in 2005, where she was a star basketball player and became the first girl to top 1,000 points for her career.

She went to college and played basketball for a semester before moving to a job in the microbiology lab at Lannett Co. Inc. in Seymour, where she worked for 10 years.

She took advantage of the company’s tuition reimbursement program to earn an associate degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2018 and a bachelor’s degree in health science from Purdue University Global in February of this year.

She’s now in the transition to teaching program through Indiana Teachers of Tomorrow and hopes to complete that in two years and take the test to earn her regular teaching license. She’s now teaching on an emergency permit.

“I loved going to school here. I didn’t want to graduate. I didn’t want to get out of school. I loved everything about it. I loved the small community, the small classes, knowing everybody and being close,” Young said of her days at Medora. “Once I decided I wanted to teach, I knew I wanted to be here.”

This school year, she’s teaching seventh and eighth grade science and high school chemistry, earth space and biology.

With the junior-senior high school working on becoming a STEM certified school like the elementary, Young said she hopes to do hands-on activities, labs and experiments later in the school year if the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines allow for it.

“I mostly look forward to getting to know the students. There are a lot that I do know, but there are several that I don’t know. If I don’t know the students, I probably know their family or their parents,” Young said.

“I’m looking forward to that, just to get to know and to build relationships with them and to hopefully inspire them to do something after high school since I came from here,” she said. “A lot of people think coming from a small school, you just don’t really have that many options, so hopefully, they see that you can.”

Ange Arthur

Arthur spent the past three years with Medora’s Reach for a Star after-school program serving as outreach coordinator and also was the school’s parent coordinator.

She’s originally from Pekin, where she graduated from Eastern High School in 1993. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana University Southeast and taught at a couple of elementary schools in Louisville, Kentucky, before taking a couple of years off after the birth of her son.

She then was a breastfeeding counselor for WIC for a few years before serving as the assistant director of Grace Christian Academy in Scottsburg for five years.

When an art teacher opening was announced at Medora, Arthur applied and was chosen for the job.

“Of course, it is drawing and painting, there is no doubt about that, but I loved the idea of being able to show them that art is really so much more than that,” she said. “So many people will say, ‘I’m not artsy’ or ‘I’m not artistic,’ but I just really feel like everybody has a talent, some kind of art, and it’s just finding out what it is.”

She will focus on the art standards for kindergarten through eighth grade and two- and three-dimensional art, advanced classes, ceramics and drawing for the high school.

With Medora’s focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Arthur said she and Principal Austin Skutnik have talked about incorporating art, too.

“There are so many things that you can really include as art,” she said. “Art can go into anything, but we felt like we could make that a really neat connection with the STEM part of it, especially since they are looking at doing that certification on through junior high and high school.”

Riley Morris

Like Young, Morris attended school in Medora from kindergarten to 12th grade.

After graduating in 2012, he earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from Indiana University in 2016.

He returned to Medora to serve as a Spanish coordinator and spent two and a half years as an extended day instructor for the high school’s new DELTA Club.

He worked at a couple of places last year but then heard Medora was starting a computer science program, so he applied for that job and was hired.

“We’ve had computer-related classes before, but we’ve never had a computer science program, so this is a brand-new thing for this year,” Morris said. “It’s exciting because I get to help build it.”

He will teach introduction to computer science, interactive media and web design this school year. Advanced classes will be added once students have completed the basic class.

“This is something that these students haven’t been offered before,” Morris said. “I think some students are going to respond very well to this. Some, it might be a little bit overwhelming at first, but I think particularly our really techy students, the ones that are into video games and stuff like that, are going to love this course.”

The school also has added computer science as a graduation pathway, so the courses will allow students to follow that track.

“For a lot of students, it’s going to be an elective, but for some of them, it’s going to be a big part of their actual graduation track if they decide they want to stick with this,” Morris said. “It will help in a lot of other classes — in math, English. This will give students an opportunity to be creative in a different way.”

Another reason computer science was added at Medora is to get all teachers certified with Project Lead the Way so the junior-senior high school can become STEM certified.

Rebecca Lanier

Lanier working at Medora is nostalgic, too.

She began her teaching career there in 2003-04 before moving on to Jennings County Middle School, Harrison College and Edinburgh Junior-Senior High School. She also briefly taught English as a second language through Seymour Community School Corp.

“It was the best year of my teaching career, and I have always wanted to return,” Lanier said of her time at Medora. “I have always kept my eye on Medora, as it has a special place in my heart. So when I saw a position posted, I immediately applied for it.”

She accepted the position Aug. 3 but already had started the year at Edinburgh, so she gave her notice there and waited for them to find a suitable replacement.

“Luckily, they immediately found another ELA teacher,” she said. “I was very happy for them, as Edinburgh was also a great place to work and I wanted the best for them.”

She started at Medora on Aug. 11, a day after the new school year started.

“I am truly excited and happy to return to my first teaching placement in my career,” Lanier said. “It feels like I have come full circle and am where I was meant to be.”

Lanier is originally from Greene County and graduated from Eastern Greene High School in 1998. She then earned a Bachelor of Science in secondary education English from Ball State University in 2003.

Later in her career, she attended Olivet Nazarene University and earned a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction.

“I was inspired to go into education because I have a love for the English language and wanted to teach others to have that same love,” Lanier said.

She also is surrounded by teachers. Her husband, Corey Lanier, has taught English/language arts at Brownstown Central Middle School since 2003, and both of her sisters-in-law are teachers.

“Throughout my career, I have always loved teaching English/language arts to middle and high school students,” Lanier said. “They often think they are not interested in the subject, and it is my ultimate career goal to inspire them to love at least something with ELA and carry that love with them throughout their lives.”

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