Seymour scholars recognize influential teachers

Ten Seymour High School senior scholar candidates recently had the opportunity to thank educators who made a lasting impression on them.

On May 2, the scholars and their families attended a special dinner at The Pines Evergreen Room to recognize and honor each student’s choice for their most influential teacher.

The event is an annual tradition and helps kick off National Teacher Appreciation Week, which ran from May 3 to 7.

This year’s scholars are Madison Auleman, Eleanore Cornn, Cameron Cox, Kirby Hill, Mallory Moore, Sydney Musgrave, Charlotte Rust, Isaac Schafer, Gavyn Stagnolia and Zachary Thompson.

Each student wrote a few paragraphs about why their particular teacher meant so much to them. Those documents were framed, and each student presented it to their teacher.

Principal Greg Prange said the event is very special for teachers and students.

“I want you to know that these teachers have loved teaching so much. They love you. They love your classmates,” he said. “They are some of the most dedicated people I know.”

Auleman chose to honor SHS English teacher Laura Cottrill.

“As my time as a Seymour High School student comes to a close, I cannot help but to reflect on the consistent influence that you have had on my education and development,” Auleman said. “Your class opened my eyes to works that I would otherwise have never encountered and never fallen in love with.”

Cornn said SHS Spanish teacher Sheena Isaacs has been a big part of her life, and that’s why she chose her as a most influential teacher.

“I’ve had the honor of being in your class the past three years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Cornn said. “You teach more than just Spanish. You make sure your students are set up for success beyond high school by teaching real life skills and lessons.”

For Isaacs, hearing those words was all the recognition she needed.

“This is the greatest honor of my life,” she said.

Cox honored SHS math teacher Matt Dennis, who also was his soccer coach.

“As a teacher, he would accept nothing less than excellence in the classroom,” Cox said. “Any time I received a lower score than he thought I was capable of, he pushed me to work harder for the next assignment. He saw a higher ceiling of potential for me than I did.”

For Hill, her most influential teacher was her sixth  and seventh grade math teacher at St. Ambrose Catholic School, Jeanne Galyen.

“When I was in your class, I never felt afraid to ask something because of the warm, open environment you created in your classroom,” Hill said. “You taught us, and you nurtured us.”

Moore chose former SHS math teacher Erica Kelly to honor.

“To say Mrs. Kelly is a good teacher is an understatement,” Moore said. “She’s not only great, she’s astounding. She’s the person who not only cared about her students in the classroom but in the real world also.”

Musgrave chose to honor George Habenicht, a fifth grade teacher at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School.

“Teachers do not just give lessons and grade papers. They create connections with their students that we remember for a lifetime,” Musgrave said. “Mr. H has made such an impact on my life, and I don’t think he realizes it. He really brought me out of my shell, and without his influence, I would not be the outgoing and involved student that I am today.”

Rust said she still remembers Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center math teacher Robin Tormoehlen telling her she should like math because she was so good at it.

“I truly believe that I would not have achieved this level of academic excellence if not for your statement that changed my entire perspective of my education,” Rust said. “You gave me the confidence to dream big and put in the work it takes to get there.”

Schafer honored SMS physical education teacher Noelle DeHaven, with whom he also got to intern.

“I loved your class because you always made sure to make PE the most fun class of the day for us,” he said. “You treated each and every student with kindness and care as you continuously put their wants and needs above your own. I admire your patience and carefulness while dealing with a student’s issue. You are the definition of unselfish, and I want you to know that does not go unnoticed.”

For Stagnolia, SHS band teacher Kevin Cottrill has been his most influential teacher.

“From the moment that I stepped into the band room for the first time, Mr. Cottrill has pushed me to be the best version of myself and has inspired me to be original,” Stagnolia said. “If it were not for his guidance and constant support, I would not be the person that I am today.”

Thompson honored retired teacher Cecily Noelker, who taught at both Seymour-Jackson and Seymour-Redding elementary schools.

“Often, when children have been labeled as gifted, many reach a point where going to school and learning new information becomes a chore,” Thompson said. “However, you constantly provided me with a challenge to make sure I was never tired of education. Whether that was giving me advanced math questions, teaching me and my fellow classmates about different cultures, baking incredibly delicious dishes or rewarding voracious reading, you made learning fun.”

Noelker said seeing a student succeed is the most rewarding part of teaching.

“Having taught for 43 years, it feels really good to know that teachers do make a difference,” she said.

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Most influential teachers as chosen by 2021 Seymour scholar candidates

Laura Cottrill, Seymour High School – Chosen by Madison Auleman

Sheena Isaacs, SHS – Chosen by Eleanore Cornn

Matt Dennis, SHS – Chosen by Cameron Cox

Jeanne Galyen, St. Ambrose Catholic School – Chosen by Kirby Hill

Erica Kelly, former SHS teacher – Chosen by Mallory Moore

George Habenicht, Margaret R. Brown Elementary School – Chosen by Sydney Musgrave

Robin Tormoehlen, Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center – Chosen by Charlotte Rust

Noelle DeHaven, Seymour Middle School and Sixth Grade Center – Chosen by Isaac Schafer

Kevin Cottrill, Seymour High School – Chosen by Gavyn Stagnolia

Cecily Noelker, retired, Seymour-Jackson Elementary School – Chosen by Zachary Thompson

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