When the final bell rang on another school year last week at Crothersville Community School Corp., students and staff said goodbye to four faculty members with a combined 127 years of experience.
Kaye Durham, Joyce Howell, Peggy Adams and Kevin Kasting each had worked at least 30 years before deciding to retire.
Principal David Schill said all four taught his children, and he worked as a teacher alongside them before becoming their chief administrator. Plus, they have been personal friends for more than 20 years.
“Here at Crothersville, it is very much like a family, and it’s tough to say goodbye to family,” Schill said. “It has been a great pleasure serving with them. I never had to worry with issues in any of these folks’ classes. They all are caring, loving, Christian individuals who have put the student first. I pray that their tomorrows are full of continued success and happiness.”
Losing four teachers at once makes it difficult emotionally and academically, Schill said.
“Retirement is always a bittersweet time. If you are the retiree, you leave the comfort of a good position, having the satisfaction of knowing you have touched lives in a positive way; yet you also look forward to a new chapter in life,” he said.
“With severe financial cuts from the Indiana Department of Education, it is uncertain if some of these positions will be filled,” he added. “That would certainly be unfortunate, as it limits the overall balance of curricula that we can offer. However, we will accept the decisions made and move on in a positive direction.”
After graduating from Seymour High School in 1976 and Indiana State University in 1980, Durham married and moved to Corydon, where she worked at a sheltered workshop for handicapped children for three years.
She and her husband, Don, moved back to his hometown of Vallonia, and she did some substitute teaching. She filled in for the home economics teacher at Crothersville for six weeks before that teacher decided not to return.
“I had a teacher in high school I really liked, and I thought, ‘I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life,’” Durham said of teaching home economics.
She taught students lifelong skills such as cooking, sewing, budgeting and balancing a checkbook. She started with separate classrooms for cooking and sewing. But in recent years, she only had one classroom, so sewing was done by hand instead of machine, and cooking focused on fast, convenient foods.
Despite the changes, she always liked working with students.
“I like the small school,” she said. “You get to know your kids that you teach, and it’s just more personal. It’s not like you don’t know half the student body. You know everybody, and you can help them with their problems. I’ve really enjoyed that.”
With retirement, Durham said she plans to spend time with her two grandchildren and travel with her husband in a camper they bought.
“We had been going out West and using a tent, and I told him last year, ‘I think I’m too old for tent camping. We’re going to have to upgrade a little bit,’” she said. “I thought, ‘We’ll start out small and see if we like it and how much we use it’ because I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a camper and then use it once or twice. So far, we haven’t even used it.”
Adams graduated from Jennings County High School in 1978 and Ball State University in 1982. While she was working on her master’s degree, she covered for the Seymour Middle School choir director, who was on maternity leave.
Then during the 1983-84 school year, there was an opening at Crothersville, and she applied and was hired.
During her career, Adams taught the elementary, middle school and high school choirs, along with drama and musicals.
She said one of the best parts of her job was seeing students work their way up from elementary choir to high school choir, particularly making progress in district and state contests.
“A lot of teachers might just have (students) for one year or for one class,” she said. “But I have them so much, and I get kind of attached to them because I really get to know them well.”
Adams also took students to live shows, and they sang at nursing homes and senior citizen centers at Christmastime and during the school’s Veterans Day program.
“It’s nice to get them out to use their talents, and they can perform in front of other people and get enjoyment out of it,” she said. “Music is something that they can use throughout their life. It’s not just stop when they get out (of school). They can use it in church or whatever throughout their life.”
For the past seven years, her son, Bobby, also has been a teacher at the school. He recently became assistant principal.
“It’s fun because I tell people, ‘It’s like my son is my boss,’ but then I’ll say, ‘But I’m still your mother,’” Adams said, smiling. “We tease back and forth. But when we’re together at family gatherings, we don’t talk shop.”
Now that she is retired, Adams said she will have a lot more time for her hobbies.
“I love to mess with my flowers, go fishing, traveling, and I’ve got another grandbaby on the way,” she said. “I’ll still play music for my church and help with vacation Bible school. I’m sure I will find stuff to do with my time.”
After finishing her studies at Corydon Central High School in 1977, Howell headed to Purdue University to study wildlife management. But she quickly decided that wasn’t the career she wanted and switched to the school library media services program.
She earned that degree and then worked at Louisville Free Public Library for six months. In 1982, she filled in for the Crothersville librarian, who was on maternity leave. That woman decided not to return, so Howell started in March 1982.
She began as the high school librarian and later oversaw the elementary library, too.
Howell said she remembers the days of having a card catalog and using a typewriter to type five separate cards for every book. That’s drastically changed.
“Now, you pull up things on computer, and it automatically does it for you,” she said. “There’s a world of difference there.”
Howell said she used to teach a media class in which students made music videos and learned about library skills and word processing and a writing class to help prepare for the ISTEP test.
She also ordered books for both libraries; wrote lesson plans for library classes; started the school corporation’s webpage and maintained it; was technology co-coordinator; served as National Honor Society adviser; and coached an Academic Bowl team.
Throughout her career, she said, she liked interacting with students.
“There’s never a dull moment with kids. You just never know with kids,” she said. “Where else are you going to find that much energy and that much potential? That much potential is just astounding.”
She said retirement was not an easy decision, but she will have plenty of things to keep her busy.
“I like to do genealogy, I like to do family history, and I’m really looking forward to doing that a little bit more,” she said. “I sew, and of course, I love to read. I bought a loom a few years ago, and I want to get better with that and figure out how to work that a little better. I do machine embroidery, and I like to do that. And I like to travel with my husband.”
Kasting, a Seymour native, earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s degree in secondary education from Indiana University. In 1983, while finishing up at IU, he student taught at Brownstown Central High School. The next school year, he taught at Northside Middle School in Columbus.
Then in fall 1984, he began his career at Crothersville.
“I knew that I wanted to work with kids. I knew that I wanted to go to school, so I had an aptitude for that,” Kasting said of his decision to become a math teacher.
He said math benefits students in several ways.
“Regardless of what their education goals are, whether they are going into the workforce or whether they are going to go on to some more school, just to be able to function in our society today, you have to be pretty fluent in mathematics,” he said.
“And all of the side benefits of learning how to be a problem-solver and how to think your way through things, gather data and use it appropriately and just making daily decisions, I think it’s important,” he said.
Changes over the years include being more driven to perform on standardized tests and teaching more college-directed math.
Kasting said, working with the students remained enjoyable.
“I’ve told them over and over that if I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, I wouldn’t be doing it. I certainly wouldn’t have done it for 32 years,” he said. “We just have really good kids. You get to know them over the years. I think they keep you young.”
Retirement wasn’t an easy decision for him, either, he said. But considering the circumstances at Crothersville and discussing it with his wife, he decided it was time.
“If there’s another opportunity in teaching or something else, I’m not ready to sit in the hammock yet,” Kasting said. “I’m going to try to find something to do to keep myself busy.”
Name: Kaye Durham
Education: Seymour High School (1976); Indiana State University (bachelor’s degree in vocational home economics, 1980); Indiana University Southeast (master’s degree in secondary school curriculum, 1990)
Occupation: Recently retired after 30 years as the family and consumer sciences teacher at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School
Family: Husband, Don Durham; children, Clint (Lauren) Durham and Monica (Eric) Adams; grandchildren, Lane Adams and Parker Durham
Name: Peggy Adams
Education: Jennings County High School (1978); Ball State University (bachelor’s degree in area and music education, 1982); University of Louisville (master’s degree in secondary education, mid-1980s)
Occupation: Recently retired after 32 years as the choir teacher at Crothersville Community School Corp.
Family: Husband, the late Robert Adams; children, Bobby (Christi) Adams, Richey Adams and Katie Adams; grandchild, Jacob Adams
Name: Joyce Howell
Education: Corydon Central High School (1977); Purdue University (bachelor’s degree in school library media services, 1981); Indiana University (master’s degree in library media services, mid-1980s)
Occupation: Recently retired after 33 years as the library media specialist at Crothersville Community School Corp.
Family: Husband, Bill Howell
Name: Kevin Kasting
Education: Seymour High School (1978); Indiana University (bachelor’s degree in mathematics, 1983; master’s degree in secondary education, 1988)
Occupation: Recently retired after 31 years as a mathematics teacher at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School; also taught one year at Northside Middle School in Columbus
Family: Wife, LaTrecia Kasting; children, Jayme Kasting and Jeremy Kasting