Get out your calculator for one final math problem from Carl Bowman and Cheryl Nehrt.
What’s 46+36+31+33+36? The answer is 182.
That’s the combined years of service of the five educators retiring this year from Crothersville Community School Corp.
Bowman first retired in 2019 but came back the last two school years, leading the retirees with 46 years. Next are elementary teachers Becky Butler and Holly Sweany with 36 years apiece, while junior-senior high school teachers Sherry Settle and Nehrt finished with 33 and 31 years, respectively.
Similar to Bowman, Butler originally retired at an earlier date, instead hers was in 2013. She then held three jobs outside education before returning to Crothersville Elementary School to teach fourth grade the past two school years.
“I never dreamed that it would happen,” Butler said of being back in the classroom.
Preferring to have students do work with pencil and paper, she was thrown for a loop when she returned to education and found students heavily relied on technology. Then in March 2020, schools closed and switched to eLearning.
“I shed many tears,” Butler said.
Then this school year, her class was in quarantine for two weeks and missed a couple of weeks due to snow.
“I thought, ‘You know what? If this is where it’s headed and what it’s going to be about, I’m pretty much done,'” Butler said. “I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m exhausted. The eLearning, the technology, I’m pencil-paper 100%. That’s not how I teach, but that’s how they want you to teach.”
One highlight for Butler was teaching in her hometown school system. After graduating from Crothersville High School in 1974, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education K-8 nondepartmentalized with an early childhood endorsement from Indiana University Southeast.
She was drawn to education by her third grade teacher, Clara Ellen Baringer.
“I just had the utmost respect for her, and that was the year I just decided ‘This is what I want to do,'” Butler said. “I know it’s third grade, but that’s what I wanted to do.”
During her career, Butler taught kindergarten and first, second, third and fourth grades and spent nine years with the Title I program.
Sweany also grew up in Crothersville, having graduated from CHS in 1981. She, too, was drawn to education at a young age.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “It was like never anything else ever. My aunt taught English here at Crothersville for years and years and years, and I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. I don’t ever remember wanting to do anything else.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Purdue University in 1985, she was engaged to Brian Sweany and landed a job teaching first grade at CES.
She later moved to third grade for a couple of years, taught developmental first grade for about 10 years and then moved to kindergarten, where she remained through this year.
“Little kids still love their teacher. They are so excited about learning. I’ve just always gone to the little ones,” Sweany said.
She said it’s rewarding to see them grow up and develop, and she taught long enough that she had children of former students in her classroom.
Like Butler, Sweany noticed the changes in education in recent years and decided it was time to retire.
“If I could just teach in my room and do my thing that I know what to do with my kids, I would stay forever,” Sweany said. “I don’t really teach kindergarten anymore. The expectations of the kids are just ridiculous. Plus, after 36 years, I’m ready to not work. I still want to come up and volunteer in the classrooms and still be involved, but I don’t want to be at school every day.”
Settle also made a comeback at Crothersville.
She graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 1977 and then worked for a dentist for 10 years before deciding to go to college.
Early on at IUS, she learned there was a teacher shortage, and the school’s science education department was looking for students to follow that track.
After student-teaching at Austin High School and earning her bachelor’s degree from IUS in 1988, Settle was certified to teach biology, general science and physical science and landed a job at Crothersville.
They also needed her to teach chemistry and physics, so she went back to college to earn those credits. Then in 1996, she earned her master’s degree from IUS.
A couple of years later, she was on a family vacation when the science department chairman at Columbus East High School, who is a distant cousin, called her mother and said he needed someone to teach physics and earth science.
While she didn’t have plans of changing jobs, Settle went up to Columbus to talk to her cousin and the principal. Within an hour of leaving there, they called and offered her the job. She remained there for 19 years.
In the 2016-17 school year, her daughter, Kourtney, started teaching at Crothersville Elementary School and helped coach the high school volleyball team. Later that school year, her father’s medical issues caused her to miss about 10 days of work. She said she was just tired and needed a change.
She then received a call from another cousin, Terry Richey, who works in Superintendent Terry Goodin’s office at Crothersville, about the school needing a science teacher.
She called Goodin and he offered her the job, so in the same week, she had submitted her retirement paperwork and was rehired.
Like Butler, though, the latter part of Settle’s return to Crothersville ended with eLearning due to the pandemic.
“It was hard to be at home because they told us on March 13 to take our computers and stuff for two weeks. Well, you realize that went into May,” she said.
Then this school year has been difficult with quarantines and Settle being out of school for a couple of weeks because she had COVID.
She, however, is proud of her students for always coming through and getting their work done, even if they sometimes didn’t want to do it.
“They did anything that I threw at them,” she said. “Some of them complained, but then they still did it. I could not have made it through this year without the group of kids I have.”
Settle said she always pushed students to bring out the best in them and benefit them in school and beyond.
“A lot of times, it’s not just about the subject matter,” she said. “The freshmen, they had a conversation one day, and one of the kids said, ‘I love this class. She doesn’t just teach us about biology. She teaches us about life.’ I try to push them to make good decisions, try to push them to make life lessons. I tried to make them understand that lessons and choices that they make now are going to affect them forever.”
While she said she always gave her whole heart to her students, Settle realized it was time to retire.
“The old saying ‘You know when it’s time,’ I never understood that. I thought ‘How can you know?'” she said. “But it’s one of those things that you know. There’s no doubt I’m done. … I kind of hate leaving because I still feel like I have the ability to teach well, but it’s time. I’m ready to go to the next chapter. I’ve had a very, very good 33 years. It’s kind of cool to start (at Crothersville) and then come full circle and end here.”
In retirement, Butler is going to enjoy time away from working full time.
“Actually, I’m just going to sit back and soak it all in for a little while and figure it out,” she said, smiling. “I’ve got some projects at home I want to tackle, like painting and redecorating, those kinds of things that I’ve never really had time to do. And time with my friends, maybe taking a girl trip or something like that I’ve never really had time to do.”
Sweany said she will have more time for her hobbies of knitting and quilting and also spending time with her husband, son Paul, daughter-in-law Kelly and “fairy granddaughter” Abbey.
“I will love spending time with them,” she said.
Settle is going to be the office manager at Hickory Hills Golf Club in Brownstown.
“I started a little bit last year,” she said. “Since it’s the first time they’ve ever had one, I don’t think anybody really knew what all it entailed, and it’s becoming huge, a lot huger than what I wanted, but it’s a different kind of stress. I’ll probably work more hours, but then I do have the winter off — November, December, January, February for sure.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Crothersville Community School Corp. 2021 retirees
Carl Bowman, 46 years, junior-senior high school teacher
Becky Butler, 36 years, elementary teacher
Cheryl Nehrt, 31 years, junior-senior high school teacher
Sherry Settle, 33 years, junior-senior high school teacher
Holly Sweany, 36 years, elementary teacher