While one new Crothersville teacher starts her 22nd year in education, another one is just beginning her career.
Veteran educator Delcie Pace is one of two new staff members at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School, joining part-time guidance counselor Kaitlyn Richey.
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At the elementary school, Kourtney Settle has joined the staff as a fourth-grade teacher.
Crothersville’s first day of school was Tuesday — the first Jackson County school corporation to begin the 2016-17 school year.
Settle, 22, a 2012 Brownstown Central High School graduate who lives in Vallonia, graduated from Franklin College in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.
She follows in the footsteps of her mother, Sherry, whose first teaching job was at Crothersville and now teaches science at Columbus East High School.
“She started out here, and I think it’s kind of cool that I’m starting out here now, and several of my students, their parents my mom had, so it’s pretty neat how everything worked out,” Settle said.
“I know she’s an awesome teacher,” she said. “I see kids writing on her Facebook wall and talking to her and saying all of these awesome things about her, and it’s like, ‘I want that to happen to me.’”
Settle said she remembers visiting her mother’s classroom when she was younger, and it always has been her goal to become a teacher.
“I’ve never wanted to be anything else but a teacher,” she said. “There has never been a backup plan, which could have been bad, but it all worked out, and I know that I’m supposed to be a teacher. I know that’s what God’s plan is for me, and I’m just really excited to start.”
Settle said she was fortunate because Franklin College has a high percentage of education students who land a job right after graduation. She was a student teacher at Northwood Elementary School in Franklin during her senior year and can teach kindergarten through fifth grade.
Settle had 18 students in her classroom Tuesday.
“I’m excited to get to know the rest of the staff better and my students. I’m just excited to get to meet everyone and become a part of this family,” she said. “I’m just really excited to start my teaching career, and it has been a lifelong dream of mine, so I’m really happy that it has finally come true.”
Pace, 41, spent all of her previous years in education at Columbus schools. The past two involved teaching junior high English at Columbus Christian School.
She found out about the opening at Crothersville on the Indiana Department of Education website.
“I knew that I wanted to try outside of where I lived because I’ve never been in education outside of where I lived,” the Columbus resident said.
Several years before graduating from Columbus East High School in 1993, Pace said she was drawn toward becoming a teacher. She recalled getting done with her work early in second grade and her teacher allowing her to help her classmates.
“That’s what led me into the field of education,” she said. “I’m still friends with my second-grade teacher, and I was like, ‘I became a teacher because of what you did.’”
At Crothersville, Pace is teaching English to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
She said her goal is to push students out of their comfort zone and have them participate in interviews and engage in conversation.
“I always look at every year as a new adventure, and so I’m really anxious to see where it takes me,” Pace said. “Right now, I’m just kind of seeing where it all leads and going from there.”
Junior-senior high school Principal David Schill said he expects enrollment numbers to be similar to the end of the 2015-16 school year, which was about 230 in grades 6 through 12. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 10 new students had enrolled.
At the elementary, Principal Chris Marshall said he hopes to see enrollment reach 280, which would be the largest in his nine years at the school. He has nearly 40 new students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Besides a few new staff members and students, the biggest change at Crothersville is all students will have iPads.
The junior-senior high school has had them for five years through the 1:1 initiative, but all students will receive new ones this year.
At the elementary, fifth-graders were the first ones to receive iPads a few years ago, and then fourth- and third-graders received them. This year, for the first time, those in kindergarten through second grade will have iPad minis.
Schill said cost is one benefit of the iPads. Parents pay a $95 iPad fee and a $40 technology fee. That $135 is compared to the $250 to $300 they used to pay for book rental.
He said some teachers have older editions of textbooks that students use for additional work, and some use software packages to help complement classroom work.
Technology, such as iPads, is what students are used to these days, Schill said.
“Regardless of whether the student when they graduate goes into the workforce or they go into college, it doesn’t make any difference. Immediately, they are greeted with some sort of technology,” he said.
Marshall said iPads provide academic engagement within the classroom atmosphere.
“Students, if they are interested and intrigued with something, they are going to absorb and learn better,” he said.
They also allow teachers to align instruction with a student’s level of performance.
“The iPad is just going to take our primary grades to the next level as far as doing group and small station work,” Marshall said.
Teachers also are able to track what students are working on and see where they are succeeding and what troubles they are having.
“Real-time information is a big deal in this day and age,” Marshall said. “All of our teachers understand we are a data-driven school. That’s why we are successful. We understand where our children are at any time through the week, not just at the end or midway through the grading period or whatever.”
The support of Superintendent Terry Goodin and the school board allowed the district to become fully 1:1, Marshall said.
“We’ve moved really fast in the last seven, eight years in school reformation and transforming this into a modern 21st century elementary school,” he said. “That could not have happened without their rapid response and leadership at the next level. On behalf of myself and the Crothersville Elementary staff, we are very grateful for all they’ve done for us.”
Along with access to technology, Marshall said enrollment has increased at the elementary because of it being named a Four Star School in recent years and typically having ISTEP scores in the top tiers.
Also, staff members make students and their families feel welcomed, he said.
“Every child, every family that comes through that door, we warmly embrace them and offer them the best that we have,” he said. “People know they are loved and cared for when they come here. They are a part of our family. School family is really a big thing.”
Marshall said teachers also have good communication with parents about their child’s progress, and a student management system allows parents to go online to look at grades or lunch accounts.
Community support helps the school thrive, too, Marshall said.
“Parents love this school. This community loves this school. The school is important to this community, and everybody realizes that,” the 1980 Crothersville High School graduate said. “There’s such a rich tradition of family here in this community. I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Both Marshall and Schill are excited to see what’s in store for Crothersville this school year.
“We’re looking forward to a wonderful year. Of course, we always do,” Schill said. “We have a good bunch of kids here, and we really just look forward to a great, great year.”
Crothersville was the first Jackson County school district to start the 2016-17 school year. Students returned to class Tuesday.
Other starting dates are:
Brownstown Central: Aug. 9
Medora: Aug. 9
Trinity Lutheran High School: Aug. 9
Seymour: Aug. 10