DARKE COUNTY — Darke County’s Teacher of the Year will be announced May 17 at the Darke County Retired Teachers Association’s annual banquet.
Vying for the honor are elementary educators: Melinda Thompson at Ansonia; Sharon Barga at Arcanum; Cindy Angle at Bradford; Diane Gray at Franklin Monroe; Jodi Humphries at Mississinawa Valley; Martha Skidmore at Tri-Village; Karen Albers at Versailles; and Amanda Rieman at Greenville.
THOMPSON AIMS TO MAKE DIFFERENCE
Thompson is in her third year of teaching kindergarten at Ansonia. Fourteen years prior to that, she was teaching in Greenville; one year teaching kindergarten, two years as a pre-school/Title I reading teacher, at Gettysburg from 2003 until 2005, when she taught at Woodland Heights.
Thompson herself is a 1989 graduate of Greenville High School. She attended college in Findlay for two years and transferred to Wright State University (WSU) where she received her bachelor’s in rehabilitation. Then she went back into the Professional Year Program for certification in 1997.
The former Melinda Thompson married Trent Thompson [no relation] almost 22 years ago. The daughter of Shirley Williams, she has two sons, Garrett and Gade.
“I think teaching is a feeling of fulfillment…knowing you’re making a difference in a child’s life,” she said. “I love more of what I can do by academics and the little extra hugs. It’s all rewarding seeing a year’s growth [in a student]. A good teacher is compassionate, patient, flexible, self-reflecting, organized, has a lot of fun in classes, brings live experiences into the classroom, works hands-on, and modifying the work of those struggling and challenging them to be where they need with the extra boosts.”
BARGA MOTIVATES STUDENTS
Barga, in her seventh year of teaching, has been at Arcanum that whole time. She teaches kindergarten.
The former Sharon Grilliot, she graduated from Versailles High School, received her undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and her master’s online from Walden University in elementary reading and math K-6.
She and husband Chris are the parents of Makayla, 3, and Madison, 2 months old.
The daughter of Louis and Teresa Grilliot, Barga said she enjoys the different stories her kindergarten students and likes seeing how they change from the beginning of the school year to the end.
“A good teacher gets to know her students and their interests,” she said. “They use that information to motivate their students. A good teacher also plans differentiated lessons to meet the needs of every child.”
ANGLE CONNECT WITH KIDS
Cindy Angle had taught one year at Newton Elementary before spending the next 27 years at Bradford, where she taught special education and fifth grade the last eight years.
A 1984 graduate of Covington High School, she earned her bachelor’s in elementary education from WSU in 1988 and received her master’s in whole language from the University of Dayton in 1995.
Daughter of Terry and Jane Byers, she has been married to Tim Angle for 29 years, and they are the parents of three children, Ashley Renner, married with two children; Alyssa, a student at Wheeling Jesuit University working on her doctorate; and Austin, serving with the U.S. Marines Corps and stationed in Camp Le Jeune.
What has teaching done for her?
“I can reach the older kids and tie in personally with the kids,” Angle said. ”I have a personal relationship with them and let them know that people care about them. A person becomes a great teacher when they connect with the kids and make learning fun and help them to learn everything they can.”
GRAY LOVES HER JOB
Gray, a fourth-grade teacher at Franklin Monroe, graduated from there in 1973. She has taught for 39 years; her first three at Arcanum in second grade; and the remainder at FM, where she has taught second, third and fourth grades. Twenty-four years ago she taught in the resource room at the junior high and high school.
Gray graduated from BGSU in 1977 with a triple major [regular elementary education and two special areas for special needs students].
Daughter of Aloha Moore and the late Wilbur Moore, she has been married for 39 years to Mike Gray, superintendent of the Darke County Educational Service Center. They are the parents of three children, Erin Buttermore, the mother of three children; son Kip, math teacher at FM whose wife Mallory is an FM kindergarten teacher; and Haley, who is graduating from the University of Findlay this weekend.
“I am leaving this year and still really like what I do with the kids who have been large part of my life,” Gray said. “A good teacher is someone who loves their job and truly cares about children. They make school fun and the kids want to come to learn.”
RIEMAN PUTS STUDENTS FIRST
Rieman has been in education for nine years; two years in Dayton and two years in South Bend, Indiana, coming to Greenville nine years ago. She has taught kindergarten, was a resource learning teacher and now teaches second grade.
The 2003 Carroll High School graduate grew up in Kettering. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Dayton in early childhood education and her master’s in literacy.
She and husband Michael have been married for six years and are the parents of Cooper, who will be 2 this month, and a daughter on the way and also expected to arrive in May.
Rieman, the daughter of Patricia and Terrence Rafferty, said teaching has given her the opportunity to make somebody’s life a little better [for students and their families.]
“A good teacher is somebody who puts themselves aside to care more about students than themselves,” she said.
HUMPHRIES TEACHES STUDENTS SELF CONFIDENCE
Humphries has taught 21 years at Mississinawa, having taught special education students in grades 1-12 and making her now an intervention specialist.
“I was involved in one of the first multi-handicapped classes in the county,” she said.
That was in late 1980s during the No Child Left Behind movement, according to Humphries, who spent seven years working in the full inclusion classroom, where these handicapped students are mainstreamed them into the regular classes.
A 1985 Mississinawa graduate herself, she earned her bachelor of science in special education in all grades in all areas from BGSU and her master’s in art of teaching from Mary Grove University.
She and husband Bo have two daughters, Kaelyn, who is the mother of three children, and Victoria, in college to become a teacher. Jodi is the daughter of Mike and Sandy Grim.
She said she strives to get her students to love learning so that they will grow in their education.
“I want them to be independent as adults and to be responsible in the work force, the community and in their home environment,” said Humphries. “I want my students to show pride in their work and feel good about themselves.”
SKIDMORE LEARNS FROM KIDS
Skidmore has been teaching for 24 years. She was a fourth-grade teacher in Kentucky for four years; stayed home for 15 years to raise her children; and subbed two years in Preble and Darke counties before coming to Tri-Village (T-V) in 1995. At T-V, she spent three years in the junior high work program; one year as junior high social studies teacher; one year as ninth-grade math with OWA; and a sixth-grade teacher since 1999.
She graduated from the school when it was known as New Madison High School in 1970. She attended Morehead State University in Kentucky, where she met husband George, and received a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and her master’s at Mary Grove College.
The Skidmores have been married 41 years and he’s now retired as a vocational agriculture teacher. They have four grown children, Bradley, Matthew, Emily Cheeseman and Mary Gabriel and will soon welcome their eighth grandchild.
“Teaching is exciting; it’s different everyday,” said Skidmore, daughter of the late Emil and Etta Bartos. “It’s fulfilling. You get to see the kids grow in their learning with different kinds of aspects, socially, academically and physically. It’s inspiring. You learn a lot from kids. They give you so many ideas you use in the classroom to teach and they don’t realize what they’ve done with their feedback. It’s a learning process for me also. And, it’s not only the kids, it’s the teachers, too. I work at an enjoyable place because they’re there for you. There is camaraderie.”
Her description of a good teacher?
“They have to have a love for kids,” she replied. “It takes patience, understanding and a lot of motivation to try and reach all different levels and all different combinations of kids you have in the classroom. It takes listening, compassion, a willingness to change and not be set in your changes, know what interests the kids and be willing to communicate with the kids, students and administration.”
ALBERS TAKES TEACHING SERIOUSLY
Albers is another long-term educator, having spent 29 years in Versailles Exempted Village School District. Currently a second-grade teacher, she has taught first and third, including some time at North Star.
A 1983 graduate of Coldwater High School, she earned her bachelor of arts in education in 1997 from Mt. Saint Joseph College in Cincinnati.
“Teaching is big responsibility I take seriously as my way of making an impact on the world and making a better influence on children,” she said. “What makes a good teacher? First, making sure that I care about and know each studen personally. Second, enthusiasm and being excited about what I do. The big thing is dedication.”
Daughter of Mel and Agnes Bertke, she has been married to husband Dale for 14 years. They have two sons, Nathan and Matthew.
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.