Seymour Community School Corp. recognizes retirees

Seniors officially said goodbye to their high school careers during Seymour High School’s graduation Sunday.

But they aren’t the only ones leaving, as several teachers and staff members of Seymour Community School Corp. also won’t be returning in the fall.

In all, 19 people, including six classroom teachers and an assistant principal, retired this school year, giving a combined 458.5 years of service to students and their families.

They were honored May 26 with a special retirement dinner at The Pines Evergreen Room. Each received traditional retirement clocks.

Superintendent Brandon Harpe said corporation officials always look forward to the event as a night to relax and reflect on the careers of some outstanding educators.

Retirees this year include Vicki Corne and Becky Davis from Margaret R. Brown Elementary School; Renee Strietelmeier from Emerson Elementary School; Bob Wood from Seymour-Jackson Elementary School; Anthony Colvin and Mindy Stanfield from Seymour-Redding Elementary School; Julie Swaney from the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center; Debra Baker-Schneider, Audrey Huber, Pat Myers and Richard Schuley from Seymour High School; Lisa Hackman and Sharon Hudson from Seymour Middle School; Gary Colglazier and Mike Lush with transportation services; Debra Crank, Resa Rudolph and LeeAnn Schafstall with food service; and Leta Ahlbrand, administrative assistant for Seymour Community School Corp.

Schuley, a science and chemistry teacher, recorded the most years of service among the retirees, serving as an educator for 43 years.

Sara Bane with the SHS science department said she remembers Schuley playing mud volleyball during homecoming back when she was a student. If there’s a fun convocation, a kiss-a-pig contest or a pie-in-the face fundraising event, you can bet he is game for participating.

Debra Baker-Schneider taught Latin at SHS with 41 years as an educator.

English teacher Chris Rose said Schneider is an amazing teacher and relates so well with her students, and many of them genuinely loved her class and all of the Roman banquets and activities she would sponsor.

She made learning Latin fun, he said.

Wood taught for 36 years. Jackson Principal Justin Brown said Wood was a beloved member of the school community and not only was an outstanding teacher but is an even better person.

“You will not find anyone who would ever say a negative word about Mr. Wood,” Brown said. “He approaches each and every day with a positive attitude. He is an absolute joy to be around. Our staff, students and families absolutely love him.”

Brown said it has been a pleasure working with Wood over the years, and they will miss his smile and the positive influence he has had on so many children over the years.

Hackman has been in education for 36 years and was a special education teacher.

Robin Cummings, a language arts teacher at the middle school, said Hackman is one of the kindest and dearest people she has ever had the great fortune to know.

“She brings grace to her job, to her students and to those who have the blessing to be near her,” Cummings said. “I have learned from her, and I will take her ‘Stargirl’ unique qualities into future years. Her legacy will always live on at SMS.”

Audra Lorey also teaches special education at SMS and has worked with Hackman for the past 17 years.

“She is an amazing teacher and truly cares about her students, and she works hard to be sure that her students are reaching their goals, both academically and socially,” Lorey said. “The amount of love and compassion that she shows to not only students but all faculty and staff at SMS is astounding. She will be dearly missed at Seymour Middle School.”

Lisa Freeman, a middle school science teacher, said thinking about working with Hackman these past 20 years is a pleasant, peaceful, calming thought.

“The middle school age for most students and their parents is a trying, confusing time full of challenges, setbacks and successes, all of these things Lisa would meet head-on with caring and compassion,” Freeman said. “It’s how Lisa is with the kids and with everyone at SMS.”

Hackman works steady, is willing to help out and doesn’t overreact or get excited, Freeman said.

“She’s there when you need her, and her students have needed her from time to time as standards in education and standardized testing change,” she said. “She’s taken it all in stride, working through the changes to help her students continue to get better. Her endurance, tenacity, caring and compassion will be missed more than she knows.”

Swaney, a speech language pathologist, worked in education for 32 years.

Mika Ahlbrand, director of special education for the school corporation, said Swaney was a valued member of the special education team.

“She is a leader with staff, including our speech team, and Julie has worked in almost every building as an SLP as well as all of our nonpublic schools,” Ahlbrand said. “Julie is a great advocate for her students and families. She is passionate about students getting the services they need.”

She said when families have babies and those words don’t come as they would like them to or are hard to understand, it can be very concerning. That is where Swaney comes in, and once families experience her services, they don’t want to let her go.

Sixth Grade Center Principal Loriann Wessel said Swaney has been a champion of education for 32 years and is a helping hand to her colleagues and always lifted spirits with her Friday coffee giveaway.

Davis, who was the assistant principal at Brown, retired after 24 years of service.

Brown Principal Tony Hack said Davis wrapped up part of her continuous journey of service, but he is sure she will find new and interesting ways to keep giving.

“She has been a wonderful addition to the work we do for our students, families and community. She has consistently put children first, and that is a special part of what we get to do in education,” he said. “Her tireless effort to support the whole child will be greatly missed. We wish her the absolute best in her retirement, and she knows that she is always welcome back at Brown, the home of the Bears.”

Strietelmeier worked in education for 23 years.

Sherry Dart, a third grade teacher at Emerson, said she worked with Strietelmeier for about six years.

“When she began at our school, she worked with struggling students. We came to know each other as she worked to help students,” Dart said. “Renee always looked for ways to help students to be successful. She was supportive during their struggles and celebrated with them during their greatest accomplishments.”

Emerson Principal Julie Kelly said when Strietelmeier joined the team, she could tell right away they had added a strong advocate for English Language Learners to their staff.

“Her compassion and dedication to helping English Language Learners find success in our schools was contagious. I feel so fortunate that I was able to work with her,” Kelly said.

Dana Bullard, a third grade teacher at Emerson, said Strietelmeier is a wonderful friend, is compassionate and has a passion for reaching all learners.

“We would always tease each other about neither of us having a good memory. If Renee wanted to remember something, she would always write it on her hand,” Bullard said. “At the end of the day, she might have many messages or ideas, but that was smart because it was always there.”

Bullard said she also remembers the alarms Strietelmeier would set on her phone as reminders to make sure she would get her class to special classes, lunch or recess duties on time. Many times, she would walk past her room with the alarm sounding, but Strietelmeier was nowhere in sight.

“Renee is so proud of her son, Jacob. She encourages and follows his academic and extracurricular achievements,” she said. “I am excited for her as she begins this new chapter. Now that she is retired, she will have the opportunity to make the most of her time and do what she loves most.”