With three weeks of the 2020-21 school year completed, Seymour Community School Corp. students are settling into their new normal routines.
The same can be said for the 32 new teachers throughout the district.
It has been three weeks of learning students’ names, getting used to wearing masks in the classroom and finding a way to teach with constant changes and disruptions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But even the challenges of an unprecedented school year aren’t keeping new SCSC teachers from realizing the joys of their profession.
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Logan Richey doesn’t have to think too hard about why he wanted to become a teacher.
As a third generation educator, the Richey name is woven into the fabric of Seymour schools and in the community.
His uncle, Jeremy Richey, is a teacher and baseball coach at SHS, and his grandfather, Jeff Richey, retired as a longtime teacher and football coach from SHS. His other grandpa, Mike “Chatty” Brown, retired as a teacher from Brownstown Central Middle School.
Now, Logan, 24, an SHS graduate, is continuing his family legacy as a new first grade teacher at Seymour-Jackson Elementary School.
Although he was just as nervous as his students on the first day of school, Logan said the support of his co-workers has made all the difference.
“I have a great support staff here at Jackson,” he said.
Having graduated from Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus in the spring, this marks his first year of leading his own classroom. But that doesn’t mean he is going into it without some experience.
He spent two years working as an instructional assistant at Seymour-Redding Elementary School and was a substitute teacher for the corporation.
“My work experience being an instructional assistant helped my decision to become an educator,” he said.
As did his own teachers, like Cecily Noelker.
“She was my fourth grade teacher and she always made learning fun,” she said. “I will never forget that.”
Now, he hopes to make the same impact on his students as other teachers have made on him and to be a positive and involved mentor.
“Starting my teaching career, I’m most excited about giving back to my community and making a difference in children’s lives,” he said.
He may teach valuable skills in language arts, math and science, but there are other lessons he wants his students to learn.
“A few of the most important things I want to teach my students is to treat each other with respect, have a positive attitude toward learning and always try your best,” he said.
Alex Bell is a new social studies teacher at Seymour Middle School, but he is not new to the classroom. The Jennings County native spent his first year teaching at Scottsburg High School and then moved on to Scottsburg Middle School, where he taught for four years.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in social studies education from Indiana State University in 2016.
Besides teaching, Bell, 26, also serves in the military. He is a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve.
His interest in history and politics also plays a role in his involvement as a Union soldier in Civil War re-enactments.
“I have a passion for history, and I wanted to share that passion with people, so what better way than to teach social studies,” he said.
Bell said he knows teachers can be one of the biggest influences in a child’s life. He had many teachers leave a lasting impact on him over the years, he said.
One in particular was his high school social studies teacher, Charlinda Evans.
“She was a wonderful teacher and mentor,” he said. “She is also one of the biggest reasons I decided to become a teacher.”
Being a part of Seymour Community School Corp., Bell said he is looking forward to making an impact on kids and pushing them to better themselves and their community.
“It is my hope that I can teach them some necessary skills needed to be successful in whatever they pursue after high school,” he said.
Amy Gibson’s path to becoming a new Spanish teacher at SHS didn’t start in the traditional way.
Although both of her parents, Glaze and Mary Beth Gibson, are retired Seymour educators and her sister, Adrianne Hernandez, also works for the corporation, Amy graduated from SHS and went to Franklin College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and athletic training.
She then went on to earn her master’s degree in athletic training from A.T. Still University in Arizona.
Having worked as an athletic trainer for the past seven years for multiple levels of intercollegiate sports and at the high school level, the 30-year-old was ready to try something different.
“I definitely have taken the long route to teaching, but I’m glad I am here,” she said.
She’s looking forward to being able to interact with students on a daily basis and foster their interest in Spanish language and culture.
“I am so excited for this new career in teaching Spanish,” she said. “I adore the language and the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world, and I hope to inspire some of these students to feel the same.”
Starting a new career can be difficult, and Gibson said she was very nervous for her first day. But with a 45-minute commute, she was able to calm herself down with music.
“I listened to my favorite reggaetón and rock music in Spanish to get myself ready,” she said.
Many of the teachers she had growing up impacted her decision to enter that profession.
“Both as a kid and now, the educators around me have always been heroes,” she said.
One who made a big impression was her one of her high school teachers, Jan Hines.
“She always made class fun and interactive,” Gibson said. “Her energy level was incredible.”
To her own students, Gibson said the most important lesson she can teach them is “To just try.”
“Most native English speakers are afraid or embarrassed of speaking a new language,” she said. “You can’t get better if you don’t practice or try. There is nothing to be afraid of. We all have to start somewhere.”
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New Seymour Community School Corp. teachers for 2019-20
Seymour Middle School
Heather Trandal, seventh grade science
Alex Bell, seventh and eighth grade social studies
Ashley Stewart, eighth grade math
Dalton Edgecomb, eighth grade math
Josie Crawford, seventh grade language arts
Jennifer Snow, special education
Edward McCarty, seventh and eighth grade science
Mikayla Applegate, agriculture
Jessica Sons, science
Bill Shepherd, seventh grade language arts
Nicholas Grissom, social studies
Lisa Turner, social studies
SMS Sixth Grade Center
Brandon Davis, science
Kylie Andreasen, special education
Joseph Burnette, special education
Seymour High School
Benjamin Fox, welding
Chloe Hargrove, math
Michael Landers, social studies
Jacob Hunt, social studies
Triston “Chase” Burton, alternative education
Mitch McCoy, health/physical education
Jerrell Hubbard, construction
Jessica Perry, special education
Amy Gibson, Spanish
Seymour-Redding Elementary School
Grace Kruse, special education
Carlie Edgecomb, second grade
Margaret R. Brown Elementary School
Ann Fields, fifth grade
Baylee Chandler, fifth grade
Seymour-Jackson Elementary School
Lillie Hartman, third grade
Kayla Elliott, second grade
Madeline Young, fourth grade
Logan Richey, first grade