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5 educators honored at inaugural Chamber event

A ‘milestone’ was reached last month when the business community and school corporations came together for a celebration that honored educators and students, according to Dr. Neyland Clark, superintendent of the South Harrison Community School Corp.
‘Business and education in Harrison County have had a strong desire to come together,’ Clark said during the first ‘Excellence in Education’ celebration held July 19 in the Colosseum at Caesars Indiana.
Many of 136 people who attended the event had to drive through a severe thunderstorm, which downed tree limbs across some roadways. Others were lucky enough to arrive ahead of the storm.
The idea for the Excellence in Education was the result of the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County’s education committee.
In the past several years, four Harrison County high school seniors were recognized during a luncheon. The students were recipients of scholarships made possible through an endowment the Chamber established in 2001, but between 1989 and 2002, the scholarships were awarded based on solicited donations, so the amount given depended on what was received from Chamber members. The scholarship amounts became fixed, at $500, after the endowment was established and they became fully funded in 2003 through the endowment.
This year, the Chamber expanded the program to include honoring educators.
‘We’re fortunate to have great educators,’ said Barbara Middleton, the Chamber’s executive director.
More than two dozen Harrison County educators were nominated, but some of them declined to complete the application. Those who did proceed with the nomination process were judged in three areas ‘ educational history and professional development activities, philosophy of teaching and a personal glimpse ‘ by a committee comprised of people from outside of Harrison County.
The five selected and honored last month were:
Diana Smith, a teacher at Heth-Washington Elementary School;
Stacy Mathes, a second-grade teacher at Corydon Elementary School;
Elizabeth Kramer, the music teacher for 27-1/2 years at Morgan and North Harrison Elementary schools;
Laura McDermott, principal at South Central Elementary School; and
Karen York, biology, chemistry and ocean science teacher at Corydon Central High School.
The four women expressed their honor as being recipients of the first Educator of the Year awards.
‘We recognize that you represent so many other educators in our schools,’ Dr. Clark told them.
The 2007 scholarship recipients were:
Daniel Alan Senechal, Lanesville Junior-Senior High School, who will study mechanical engineering at the University of Evansville;
Lucas James Taylor, Corydon Central High School, who will study finance at the University of Evansville;
Justine Carol Huffman, South Central Junior-Senior High School, who will attend the University of Louisville to study sports medicine and exercise science with a goal of becoming an optometrist; and
Ellen Marie Hall, North Harrison High School, who plans to study one year at Indiana University Southeast then transfer to Indiana University-Bloomington to become a dietitian.
Prior to honoring the scholarship winners, Nathaniel Uhl, a former Chamber scholarship recipient who is now an attorney with the Ice Miller law firm in Indianapolis, shared his observations on college life for the high school graduates. The 1997 North Harrison High School graduate earned a bachelor’s degree at Hanover College in 2001 and graduated from the Indiana University School of Law in 2004.
He encouraged the college-bound students to study abroad, to stay out of debt as much as possible and to broaden their horizons.
‘The world is a lot smaller place than you thought it was,’ once you study abroad, he said. And, ‘no matter what you’re interested in, there’s something to learn.’
He said visiting places such as museums teaches more than a student can learn in a classroom environment.
To help lower debt, students can take advantage of internships, which also provide ‘the opportunity to try a job out for a few months,’ Uhl said, often helping the employee decide if that’s the type of work he or she really wants to do after college graduation.
He also encouraged the recent graduates to join as many organizations and clubs as possible once at college, as well as to take as many classes outside of their chosen field of study, to broaden their horizons. Uhl said the teenagers shouldn’t attend college just to please their parents, to hopefully be guaranteed a job after four years of post-secondary studies or to get good basketball and football tickets.
‘Learning in class is not enough to get you through,’ he said, mentioning Forrest Lucas, CEO and president of Lucas Oil Co. in Corydon, who used his idea for a better product to make his living rather than relying on a college education.
Instead, Uhl said, the four years of college should be used ‘to make the next 70 years the best of your life.’
Uhl is married to the former Jennifer Brewer, a South Central graduate. They have an eight-month-old son, Evan.
The lawyer quipped that his ‘tone deafness’ was not cured by Kramer, his former music teacher, but he does sing many of the songs he learned from her to his son at bedtime. On a serious note, Uhl said he believes music helps ‘stretch a young person’s brain.’
Dr. Gilbert W. Atnip, vice chancellor for academic affairs at IUS in New Albany, also addressed the audience. The Florida native and graduate of The Ohio State University said recognizing education ‘is something we can’t do enough of.’
As someone who has been involved in education 52 of his 59 years, Atnip said that the best students are those who demonstrate discipline. ‘What you get out of (education) is relative to what you put into it,’ he added.
Atnip told the scholarship recipients and other young people in attendance that they will never know everything they need to know. ‘Some day you will be finished with school,’ he said, ‘but you’ll never be finished with learning.’
Father Dan Atkins from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon gave the invocation prior to the meal. Music before the ceremony was provided by guitarist Gary Wood of Corydon.