Standing near his pickup truck drinking a Coke with the superintendent, David Schill was interviewed for an industrial arts teaching position at Crothersville Junior-Senior High School.
He had helped the superintendent and principal set up curriculum to be able to hire an industrial arts teacher, but they weren’t interested in the only applicant who had put in for the job.
As soon as Schill got home, the superintendent called and offered him the job.
Story continues below gallery
The 1980 Crothersville High School graduate couldn’t turn it down because it was an opportunity to teach at his alma mater.
About 10 years later, Crothersville’s assistant principal was retiring, and Superintendent Terry Goodin asked Schill if he would be interested in getting an administrator’s license so he could move into that role.
This time, Schill said he wasn’t as sure about the change.
“I said, ‘Absolutely not. I do OK now, I have good enrollment and get along well with the kids and the parents,’” Schill said. “I said, ‘When you become an administrator, you put a target on your back, and I don’t want that target.’”
Schill eventually decided to earn an administrator’s certification and was assistant principal for two years before bumping up to principal in 2007.
Since then, he has helped the school become what it is today.
Now, though, he is passing the torch.
Schill retired at the end of the school year, marking 32 years in education.
He said years ago, he decided he would retire when he turned 55. He turned in his retirement letter in January.
“To be perfectly honest, I sat with the mouse over the print button a little while before I hit print,” Schill said. “I’m not leaving because I have to. It’s because I want to. It’s time.”
Not being around the students every day will be tough, he said.
“I’m going to miss them. I know that. The kids are what it’s all about,” he said. “If you’re ever in education and you lose track of the kids, lose sight of the kids, then you need to get out. I haven’t lost that because it’s still all about the kids, but that’s going to be the hardest part. Getting up Aug. 2 when school starts and not seeing 250 or so kids’ faces is going to be tough.”
Goodin said the school board will act on Schill’s retirement Monday and begin discussions in executive session about hiring the next principal.
“David has been an integral part of our success here at Crothersville Community Schools, and we couldn’t have gotten to where we are now without David’s hard work and dedication to the school and the community,” Goodin said.
“He’s going to be very, very badly missed,” Goodin said. “David has been a great friend of mine. He has been a great colleague, and as he moves on to the next chapter — whatever that chapter may be — I know he’ll be successful because he’s a hard worker.”
After graduating from high school, Schill earned his bachelor and master’s degrees in industrial technology education from Purdue University.
“I always liked working with my hands, and I felt a call on my life to be a teacher,” he said. “At the time, I couldn’t quite decide between history, math and shop.”
Since junior high school, he said he knew he wanted to attend Purdue. When he looked into the school’s programs, he thought industrial technology suited him best because of the variety of skills he could teach.
While earning his master’s degree, he was a graduate instructor and taught some classes in Purdue’s industrial technology department.
In 1985, he landed his first teaching job at Cascade High School in Clayton. The industrial arts teacher went on sabbatical, so Schill knew it would just be a one-year deal.
He then taught industrial arts at Indian Creek High School in Trafalgar for six years before landing a job closer to home at Scottsburg High School for three years.
In 1995, Crothersville had a different form of shop education, and the Indiana Department of Education required the school to hire an industrial arts teacher if it was going to teach manual trades.
That’s when Schill was contacted about developing curriculum and wound up being hired.
Leading the way
When he later transitioned into an administrator’s role, Schill was able to lead the school to several achievements.He said he’s most proud of creating the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative, which allows students to take dual-credit courses taught by qualified high school teachers at Austin and Crothersville and professors with Ivy Tech Community College. They receive an associate degree in general studies after earning at least 61 credit hours.
In the past five years, 44 Crothersville students have received degrees. By doing so, they spend a year or two less and save between $30,000 and $40,000 in earning a higher college degree.
“Dr. Goodin allowed me to pursue it, and now, it has grown into a very big program, and it’s the only one of its nature in the state of Indiana,” Schill said. “We invited Austin to participate, and that has been good for them.”
Schill said the school has the highest ISTEP scores it has ever had, and he attributes that to a great staff.
“That’s not saying we still can’t improve because we can,” he said.
A lot of technology also has been added in recent years. That includes becoming fully 1:1, installing interactive whiteboards in all classrooms and creating the Tiger Tech Cage technology area.“We are at or above most other schools in the state with what we do, so that’s a neat thing, too,” he said.
A highlight for Schill this year was seeing the girls basketball team claim the school’s first team sectional title since it joined the Indiana High School Athletic Association 103 years ago.
“Win or lose, athletically or anything else, I’ve always been proud of our kids,” he said. “We’ve had some years in athletics that we haven’t been very good, but yet they went out, they tried hard and you can’t ask for any better than that. We’ve just got some really good kids here. We really do.”
In retirement, Schill plans to continue with two things he has done while working at the school — serving as pastor at New Harmony Baptist Church in Austin and clowning. He has been an ordained American Baptist minister for 22 years and done clowning for 17 years.He also will have more time for woodworking and spending time with his grandchildren — one is 3, and the other one is due in the fall.
Schill said he will keep his administrator’s license active for about five more years in the event that a school needs an interim principal, and he has a life teaching license. He told Crothersville’s testing coordinator he would be interested in helping during testing time, so people might see him back in the school then.
He also may attend some sporting events at the school just to keep in touch with students and staff.
“I had a lot of fun and sure had a lot of good times with the kids through the years, whether it was teaching or administrator,” he said. “Some of them were tears. I’ve had kids who had some real issues, and we’ve been able to work through those issues, whether they were school issues or home issues. It has always been about the kids, and the Lord has blessed me. I’ve had a good career.”
Words of advice
As far as advice to his successor, Schill said he would tell them the same thing he has told other new hires.“You’ve got to love the kids,” he said. “One thing I always tried to do as a teacher was say something nice to every student I had every day. … I always tried to make sure that the kids knew I was there for them. I think they did.”
Name: David Schill
Education: Crothersville High School (1980); Purdue University (bachelor’s degree in industrial technology, 1984; master’s degree in technical education and training, 1985); Oakland City University (administrator’s certificate, 2004); Louisville Bible College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (postsecondary education)
Occupations: Recently retired after 32 years in education (Cascade High School 1985 to 1986, Indian Creek High School 1986 to 1992, Scottsburg High School 1992 to 1995, Crothersville Junior-Senior High School 1995 to 2017); pastor at New Harmony Baptist Church in Austin; clown with Smiles Unlimited Universal Clown Ministry (Giggles and More is the local group)
Family: Wife, Debra Schill; son, Adam (Lorraine) Schill; daughter, Leah (Tyler) Griffin; grandson, Emmett Schill, and another grandchild on the way