Before students filled school buildings Monday morning, Seymour Community School Corp. welcomed back teachers for their first days of school last week.

New and returning teachers had two days — Thursday and Friday — to ready themselves for the new school year. Those days were spent meeting other teachers and administrators, getting their classrooms in order and preparing their lesson plans.

Seymour Community Schools has 30 new certified staff membersthis year, including teachers, administrators and guidance counselors.

“It went well,” Micah Wallace said of her first day. “There was a ton of information given to us as well as many new faces, but I felt very welcomed.”

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Wallace, 24, of Hope, is the district’s new agriculture science and business teacher. She will split her time between the middle School and high school.

Wallace, a 2014 graduate of Purdue University, said she is excited to be a part of Seymour’s expanding agriculture program. The district is looking to build a farm school and wants to introduce students to the study of agriculture at a younger age.

“I am looking forward to introducing the ag classes at the middle school,” she said.

With a passion for working with youth and for the agriculture industry, Wallace said being an ag teacher made sense.

“It was a happy medium,” she said.

She has a degree in agricultural education and has worked in three school districts as a substitute and fill-in teacher.

During the summer, Wallace was certified in Curriculum of Agricultural Science Education.

“The course is very lab- and science-based,” she said. “I am excited to carry out my training with my students.”

Just as students can be nervous on the first day of school, teachers can be too, Wallace said.

“I have prepared myself to be ready for anything that comes my way, knock on wood,” she said. “But I know that not everything goes as planned.”

Also new to the school corporation this year is Ashley Wehmiller, 23, of Seymour.

The Ball State University graduate is teaching art classes at both Cortland and Redding elementary schools. Her mother, Mariella Wehmiller, has been a longtime art teacher for Seymour Schools.

“From a very young age, I have loved to create and learn about art,” Ashley Wehmiller said. “By teaching art, I now get the great opportunity to share and impart that love to my students.”

Wehmiller has a degree in art history and worked at the David Owsley Museum of Art for two years, leading tours and writing labels for exhibits. She’s also been involved with the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour for the past four years, teaching art camp each summer, and worked as a kindergarten assistant at Redding last year.

Students can expect many fun lessons and projects this year as they explore different types of art and are introduced to famous artists, Wehmiller said.

“Our beginning theme is going to be Island Adventure, so we will be focusing on artists known for painting seascapes,” she said. “Students will be making seascapes inspired by Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave,’ Edward Hopper’s lighthouses and Claude Monet’s impressionistic cliffs.”

Wehmiller said she’s glad to be able to come back to her hometown to begin her art teaching career.

“The first teacher day was exciting because I had the opportunity to speak with many new co-workers at the opening meeting at the high school,” she said. “I also met lots of new students at the open house.”

She said she keeps the nerves at bay by being well prepared.

Seymour High School’s new language arts teacher Ryan McCartney is from Riverview, Michigan, but is no stranger to the classroom or the football field.

At 41, this will be his 13th year in the classroom and 18th year coaching.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s from University of Phoenix.

“Honestly, I really enjoyed my days as a student,” he said. “I knew I wanted to stay in athletics as a coach once I finished playing, and teaching was a natural fit. I also come from a family of educators.”

McCartney will teach freshman English and speech this year and is ready to be a part of the Seymour Community Schools family.

“I think what I look forward to the most each new year is building relationships with staff and students,” he said. “There is a feeling of pride and community here that my family has been looking for and that is exciting to be a part of.”

Students who have him as a teacher can expect a lot of group work and collaborative projects that may seem out of the ordinary, McCartney said.

“I’ve always tried to incorporate multiple activities that get kids collaborating with each other, trying new strategies that don’t include pencil and paper for every assessment,” he said.

McCartney said he doesn’t get nervous about the first day of school anymore, even at a new school.

“I’m excited to get started, get into a routine,” he said. “I try to make sure students, especially incoming freshmen, get a feeling for rules and procedures while understanding that I am here for them and want the best for them.”

At a glance

New certified staff at Seymour Community Schools

Seymour High School: Cody French, special education; Ryan McCartney, language arts; Micah Wallace, business; Tiffany Emery, math; Vanessa Hackman, language arts; Tracy Buchanan, business; Kaneesha Chappell, Spanish; Kyle Karum, choir; Jill Halterman, special education; Todd Weaver, math; William “Billy” Harmon, guidance counselor; Melody Russell, basic skills special education

Seymour Middle School: Stacey Parisi, speech and language pathologist; Wallace, agriculture science; Loriann Wessel, assistant principal; Amy Macy, science; Craig Montgomery, math; Lesley Derringer, math

Margaret R. Brown Elementary School: Stacey Parisi, speech and language pathologist; Justin Kelley, fifth grade

Cortland Elementary School: Ashley Wehmiller, art; Allison Bowers, physical education; Allison Ritzline, music

Redding Elementary School: Wehmiller, art; Bowers, P.E.; Steffen Lewis, special education; Dacia Koop, life skills special education; Jake Shaffner, assistant principal; Lora Pollert, fourth grade

Jackson Elementary School: Kelsey Toborg, special education preschool; Bri Wethington, third grade; Stacey McCartney, first grade; Rachal Brock, fifth grade

Emerson Elementary School: Allison Reed, fourth grade

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.