Brownstown teacher, coach wraps up 40-year career

BROWNSTOWN — Barry Cutter was born to lead.

From serving as captain of the crossing guard patrols in sixth grade to participating in football and track and field in high school, leadership came natural.

Later on, he became the science department chairman at Brownstown Central High School, served as president of the Brownstown Central Classroom Teachers Association, was head coach of the boys track and field team for 19 of his 30 years with that sport, was an assistant coach for the football program for nine years and served as sponsor of the Booster Club (13 years) and Letterman’s Club (six years).

Outside of his job at the school, Cutter has been chairman of the board, an elder and chairman of the elders at Brownstown Christian Church and served on the Brownstown Public Library board of trustees for 18 years, including most of that time as president.

Through his 40-year career in education and dedication to his community, he has impacted a lot of people with his leadership skills.

“I’ve always had a lot of leadership roles,” he said. “I’ve always embraced the leadership role. It just kind of seems to be part of my DNA.”

Cutter, 63, recently made the tough decision to retire from teaching, but he leaves knowing he helped a lot of students and worked alongside a lot of great staff members over the years.

“It has been great. I’m not going to have any regrets at all. I will miss it, there’s no doubt. You do something for 40 years, you’re going to miss it,” he said. “I have a lot of good memories, that’s for sure. I contemplated one more year, and I thought, ‘You know, I’m ready.’ Everybody has always told me you’ll know when you’re ready.”

Cutter was born in Milan and grew up in Dillsboro, and then his family moved to Orlando, Florida, when he was 10. There, he went to school from fourth to 10th grades and developed a love for sports, including football and track and field.

The family moved back to Indiana after Cutter’s father died and so his mother could take care of her parents. He spent his junior and senior years at Jennings County High School, where he continued with football and track until graduating in 1977.

Cutter then went to Ball State University in Muncie.

“I had originally wanted to play football in college, and I probably would have gotten a scholarship, but I got mono my senior year in football, so that kind of eliminated that,” he said. “Then I got a lot of academic scholarships, and so I was able to go to Ball State for pretty much very little money.”

Since he was really gifted in numbers, Cutter initially planned to study accounting. He soon discovered it wasn’t the right fit.

“I was in a geology 101 class, and I had that earth science class when I was a freshman. It was an advanced class, and I really liked it, and I liked astronomy and liked all of that stuff,” he said. “I was like, ‘You know, I’m going to pursue this.’”

Cutter wound up earning a departmental major in geography, a teaching major in earth science, a departmental minor in geology and a teaching minor in U.S. history in 1981.

“I really had planned on going into the oil business and mapping and cartography, and a lot of that was where I had a passion to go to, but I had a teaching degree to fall back on if I wanted to teach,” he said.

That was a good thing because at the time, there was an oil embargo, gas prices doubled and nobody was hiring in the oil industry or cartography field.

“That was kind of rough, so I fell back onto my teaching degree,” he said. “My mom moved to Brownstown and met someone, and that’s what brought me here.”

For the 1981-82 school year, Cutter was a substitute teacher and an assistant football coach at BCHS.

The next school year, he was hired to teach U.S. history and world geography, and he also coached football and track.

“Brownstown has been a pretty special place,” Cutter said. “It has always been a small town, which brings me back to Milan and Dillsboro, which is where I grew up in a small town. I was exposed to a major city for almost eight years or so and growth there (in Orlando), but then I’ve been kind of drawn back to the small town, and I’ve always loved the small-town atmosphere.”

Over time, he added his other passion, earth science, to his teaching lineup, and he also taught U.S. history in summer school.

Seeing the light bulb go off in a student’s mind has been Cutter’s favorite thing about teaching.

“When somebody understands a concept or gets what I’m talking about, that’s probably the most, I would say, fulfilling part of teaching,” he said. “Also, being around and helping others when they just need help, a lot of students need an adult in their life, and some don’t have that, so that’s an important part. That’s a big part of what I do.”

In 2000, Cutter was voted Newspapers in Education Teacher of the Year, and this year, he was named Brownstown Ewing Main Street’s Educator of the Year.

Outside of the classroom, Cutter was an assistant coach for football and track for nine years before he became head coach for boys track and field in 1991, a position he held for 19 years.

His teams posted a winning record for 17 of those years and went 616-205-3 overall. The Braves won the Mid-Southern Conference championship three times with Cutter being named MSC Coach of the Year twice. He coached nine school record holders, 14 state finalists and two all-state athletes.

Cutter later came back and served as an assistant coach for track and field for two more years.

Then in 2017, he was inducted into the BCHS Athletic Hall of Fame.

“I’m proud of that because I’m on the wall down there (in the gymnasium), and my son and daughter are, too,” he said of Kwin (track and field) and Mackenzie (track and field and volleyball).

He was proud of his kids for their athletic accomplishments when they were in school, and it gives him even more pride with Mackenzie becoming a teacher, coach and academic adviser at the collegiate level and Kwin working locally and serving as a track and field assistant coach at BCHS.

Cutter said he considered retiring at the end of the 2020-21 school year after dealing with the many changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and even becoming very sick with the virus himself for 17 days. Plus, his wife, Teresa, retired after 20 years with the school corporation.

His original plan, though, was to make it to 40 years, so he decided to stay another school year.

“I’m very much looking forward to retirement,” he said. “I think it’ll be different. I’m going to really miss the kids. I’m going to really miss teaching the material. You can see I have a passion for it.”

In retirement, Cutter said he and his wife plan to travel and spend time with family, and he wants to be more active in church as an elder. He said he won’t rule out substitute teaching if he’s asked.

“It’s a nice school, it’s a good community, it’s good administrators and I’ve always enjoyed that. It has been the key part of my life, and it’s going to be hard to walk away from that,” he said.

“It’s God’s blessings for me to do what I’ve done for 40 years,” he said. “I recognize that he has put me in a role to be with young people, and a lot of these young people need somebody in their life, and I’ve been able to do that, not just as a teacher but as a mentor, as a parent at times, especially as a coach. It’s just the role that goes with coaching. I had coaches that did that for me, so I try to give that back to them.”

Cutter file 

Name: Barry Cutter

Age: 63

Hometown: Milan

Residence: Brownstown

Education: Jennings County High School (1977); Ball State University (majors in geography and earth science and minors in geology and U.S. history, 1981); Indiana University (master’s degree in secondary education, 1987)

Occupation: Recently retired after 40 years as a teacher at Brownstown Central High School; he also coached track and field for 30 years and football for nine years

Family: Wife, Teresa Cutter; daughter, Mackenzie (Dan) Wenger; son, Kwin (Rebekah) Cutter; grandchildren, Sadie Wenger, Taylor Treadway and Karsen Cutter