Saturday, May 21, 2022
Retiring Educator Reflects on Career of Building Culture
Retiring teacher and former administrator Maureen McCune has been surrounded by students, student work and Charlie Brown regalia throughout her tenure at Shelbyville Middle School.
by KRISTIAAN RAWLINGS
“Tell us about yourself.”
Two decades have passed, but Maureen McCune still recalls the first prompt at her interview for the Shelbyville Middle School assistant principal position. Principal Denny Ramsey, now retired, remembers it, too, because it was then he learned McCune was from the southern Indiana town of Jasper, known for its German heritage.
“I didn’t know you were a ‘kraut’!” Ramsey, himself a Tell City native, exclaimed.
McCune didn’t respond, but she knew what she wanted to say. So did Ramsey.
“She didn’t say, ‘Well, you’re a river rat!’” Ramsey said in a recent phone interview. “I think she wanted the job.” And Ramsey wanted her in the job. “Even though she was from Jasper, it didn’t take me long to know I had found my candidate.”
McCune accepted Ramsey’s offer via fax while on vacation. At the bottom of the formal document she scribbled, “Go Wildcats!”, homage to her beloved high school mascot.
Although separated in age by several years, the Indiana hometown pride connection bonded boss to new administrator.
“Denny Ramsey was my immediate connection to this building,” McCune said. “He was just so easy to talk to.”
Hundreds of students, teachers and staff say the same of McCune, who is retiring after her last sixth grade science lesson on Tuesday.
For McCune, 58, it all goes back to Jasper. One of six children in seven-and-a-half years - she and two of her siblings were in the same high school Spanish I class at the same time - she and her parents lived just down the street from her grandparents.
“I also grew up with 15 super-close girlfriends from about third grade on, and I’m still friends with them today,” she said.
The group gets together twice a year, which includes a vacation, such as the one she was on when Ramsey offered her the job.
“Other than family, those life-long friends are probably the next greatest blessing in my life,” she said.
A stellar math and science student, McCune was also an athlete and school band member until a hip deformity required surgery when she was 16. Maureen wanted to pursue engineering at Purdue University, but her high school guidance counselor warned that chances were slim because few girls were accepted into the program.
“I got in, and I left a copy of my acceptance letter on (the counselor’s) desk,” McCune said. She paused, then added, “I’ve learned that saying less is more.”
She loved Purdue - and enjoyed time on campus with several other science-minded young adults from Jasper - but did not enjoy engineering. A friend recommended she consider other options, so she took an aptitude test, which suggested she teach middle school science or math. McCune enrolled in an education course and spent the semester helping one student at Klondike Elementary in West Lafayette.
“It was my first exposure truly to having a close interaction with someone of a different race. It was life-changing,” McCune said.
She student-taught at Wainwright Junior High under Dorothy Bush, who coincidentally had been married in Shelbyville. McCune learned much from her and also cites Purdue Physics Professor Van Neie as an inspiration.
“He taught me the scientific method and the guts behind how you teach children science,” she said.
Dr. Van Neie, now retired, congratulated McCune this week via email on her career. “I loved encouraging future teachers to DO science and learn along with their students,” he wrote. “I’m thrilled that she had the ‘guts’ to do it. Once you have that, the sky is the limit.”
Through stops in Indiana communities that include Brazil, Southport, Columbus and Shelbyville, McCune honed an interactive style and preached procedures, the latter a reflection of her mentors’ and mother’s influence.
“What you permit is what you promote,” McCune said of managing the classroom. “It’s about the kids. If there’s a problem in the classroom, it’s (the teacher’s) fault because you don’t have a procedure for it.”
At SMS, she assumed responsibility for school discipline. Every kid that said the “F”-word went home for a day. A second offense called for three days away from school. The third time equaled a week, she determined.
McCune also worked on trimming the schedule. “Kids were spending as much time in the hallway as they did in class.”
Although her goal was never to become an administrator, McCune found the position a natural fit. “I still felt like a teacher. The building was my classroom.”
Ramsey saw that passion on display daily. “I knew immediately when I hired her that she was a quality person,” he said. “You could always count on her to do the job right and professionally. She left nothing to surprise. Maureen dots all the I’s and crosses all the T’s.”
When Ramsey retired in 2010, central administration moved McCune back to teaching sixth grade science.
“It was the most disrespectful, wonderful thing that ever happened to me, because teaching children is my passion,” McCune said. “The kids who I’ve impacted and the kids who I’ve influenced most here at this level are the kids who need visuals, who need the steps to get to critical thinking.”
It’s not apparent from the looks of McCune’s classroom that she is retiring. Charlie Brown regalia, all of it given to her by students and colleagues, covers the walls and her desk. She’s been a fan since she was a child.
“(Charles Schulz) was so ahead of his time. The kids are from all walks of life; it was nothing like white, Catholic Jasper, Indiana,” McCune said. She can list the characters’ various strengths and flaws. “For instance, Lucy’s a bully. But that’s also a teachable moment.”
She’s been to the creator’s museum in Santa Rosa, Calif. - “The bookstore is OMG!” - and has an original Tom Everhart lithograph of Charlie Brown. “It’s called ‘Call Waiting.’ It just captured me,” she said.
“I definitely still have the drive and the desire and enthusiasm for teaching. I just don't want it to be the rest of my life,” she said.
McCune looks forward to whatever is next. “I don’t know what retirement is going to look like. I definitely know golfing is involved.” Traveling, too. And since she doesn’t have social media, McCune plans to reconnect with her nieces and nephews.
Despite plans to eventually move to the East Coast, she’ll always be proud of her southern Indiana roots. It’s been a hallmark of her career to those, like Ramsey, who know her best. He recalls making a Jasper joke in front of the middle school staff several years ago. After school, Ramsey started a staff meeting despite McCune’s conspicuous absence. While he was in the midst of a serious point, staff members burst out laughing. Ramsey turned to find McCune behind him.
“She had gone to her office and put on a black Jasper sweatshirt. The letters were so big, down both arms, and she was holding her arms out, but I couldn’t see her,” he said. “Of course, she got the last word.”
Shelbyville Middle School eighth grader Naomi Garringer was named this year’s Roland Stine Award recipient by the Shelbyville Kiwanis Club.
Army Maj. Adam Barlow will be this year’s speaker at the Memorial Day program, May 30, 11 a.m., on the Shelby County Courthouse lawn. The community choir and band will play at 10 a.m.
HOOSIER NEWS: Funds from the federal infrastructure bill will help create a national network of electric vehicle charging stations as sales of EVs continue to grow and owners look to lengthen their traveling range. Indiana intends to use its share of those funds to support creation of charging stations at least every 50 miles along interstate highways, Indiana Department of Transportation Deputy Chief of Staff Scott Manning told the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. (Munster Times of Northwest Indiana)
NATIONAL NEWS: According to Care.com, the hourly cost of hiring a babysitter has increased from an average of $14.72 in 2020 to $18.05 per hour as of April 2022. (Wall Street Journal)
This Week in Shelby County" works by George L. Stubbs Sr. are owned by the Shelby County Historical Society (Grover Center) and used with permission.
THIS DAY IN SHELBY COUNTY HISTORY
News around Shelbyville and the surrounding area as reported on or about this date in history. Selections are curated from the Shelby County Public Library Genealogy Department.
20 YEARS AGO: 2002
Emily Anne Wells, postmaster at Manilla for 29 years, died. She had graduated in the 1961 from Manilla High School.
30 YEARS AGO: 1992
A local man filed a civil rights complaint against the city of Shelbyville over the accessibility of city council chambers. He claimed the council chambers, on the second floor, were not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act since there was no elevator in the building. City officials had indicated they would move a council meeting if a disabled person had business to conduct with the council, but the complaint said that was not an acceptable solution.
Seniors Misti Mullen and Jeremy Wright reigned over Southwestern’s traditional Senior Prom at the Columbus Holidome.
Loper Elementary winners of PTO awards for citizenship, responsibility, respect and academics had lunch at Cagney’s with Mayor Bob Williams. Teachers’ aide Cathy Creel accompanied students Tameka Frazee, Kayla Cox, Sara Holder, Drew Haehl, Mike Wimmer and Tony Gibbs.
40 YEARS AGO: 1982
Two Shelbyville High School seniors were arrested after their truck damaged the lawn and shrubbery at the school. Both were charged with illegal consumption of alcohol and fleeing police. The boys had driven on the lawn of the high school for about 200 feet and run over four shrubs near an entrance to the gym.
50 YEARS AGO: 1972
The state approved the city of Shelbyville to install a long-sought traffic signal at the intersection of State Road 44 and Amos Road. Traffic had increased on the road since the new viaduct was opened in 1970. Also, that portion of Amos Road had been repaved over the previous year. The state, however, rejected the city’s request to place a traffic control device at the State Road 44-Wellington Road interaction.
Triton Central claimed the county baseball championship. The four senior members of the team were Todd Eck, Gary Wilkins, Tom Crafton and Garnet Law.
60 YEARS AGO: 1962
Stephen Zeller of Rolling Ridge, a sixth-grader at Charles Major Elementary, was selected as the fourth recipient of the annual Earl Trees Award as the outstanding school safety patrol boy. The boys had been graded on four points: knowledge of traffic safety, devotion to duty, personal appearance and scholastic average. Other school winners competing for the top award were Stephen Buckler, Hendricks, Stephen Davis, St. Joseph’s; Dana Mollenkopf, Loper; Ronnie Winton, Pearson; and Tony Livingston, Coulston. Zeller was the third winner from Major Elementary.
70 YEARS AGO: 1952
Donald Wortman and David Hauk were co-winners of the Rouse-Wortman Memorial Award, the highest athletic award presented annually at Morristown High School.
A nationwide potato shortage left local stores to sell spuds only to regular customers. The shortage also caused a run on canned potatoes and boxed dehydrated potatoes. There were 37 grocery stores in the city and nearly all reported a shortage to varying degrees.
80 YEARS AGO: 1942
Two of Indiana’s most unusual musical organizations - the Missouri Harmony and Diaspason Singer Classes of Morristown - held their 117th annual meeting. The event had turned into a homecoming celebration. Actual membership in the two classes had been diminishing steadily in recent years but large crowds still attended the event. S.A. Phares, of Shelbyville, was song leader and Bertha Frazier, Morristown, was the assistant. J.B. Carney was class president and Florence Rock, 93, was secretary.
90 YEARS AGO: 1932
St. Joseph Church held “red-letter” days, the Republican said. The Rev. Maurice Schoentrup, the first young man in the 75 years of existence of the parish to become a priest, celebrated his first solemn mass, and the Rev. John Rager, pastor of the church, observed his silver jubilee. Dinner was served in the St. Joseph’s dining hall. Father Schoentrup was born in Shelby County on Nov. 17, 1906.
Nave Field, on Rushville Road, east of Shelbyville, announced plans to bring a “giant tri-motor 14-passenger plane” here. Coupons for rides could be obtained at the J & H Service Station and Carl Hobbs Service Station.
100 YEARS AGO: 1922
A horse belonging to Dell Clark died when it wandered onto the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Traction Company bridge, over Blue River, at the north end of Tompkins St. and fell.
JAIL BOOK-INS: Alex C. Askew, auto theft; David E. Domingos, driving while suspended; Dustin K. Fletcher, failure to appear.
Glenn E Hodson, 92, of Seymour, Indiana passed away May 18, 2022, at Hamilton Trace in Fishers. In 1930, he was born in Fairland, Indiana to the late Clarence Hodson and Elva (McCarty) Hodson-Binford.
On October 4, 1953, in Seymour, Indiana, he married the love of his life, the late Dorothy Robertson. Glenn was a member of Honeytown Christian Church. He retired from the Indianapolis Star News in Indianapolis. Glenn was a member of the Masonic Lodge #28, Shelbyville, a member of the Scottish Rite, Indianapolis, and a member of the Seymour Noon Lions Club.
Glenn is survived by his children; Mark Edwin (Sara) Hodson, Matthew Scott (Victoria) Hodson, Eric Michael (Chris) Hodson, Deena Kay (Daniel) Lafever; twelve grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, his brother; Ted Hodson, and step-sister Phyllis Smith. He was preceded in death by his wife; Dorothy (Robertson) Hodson, his sister Gladys McKinney, and stepsister Betty Shelton.
Visitation will be held on Thursday May 26, 2022, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Voss and Sons Funeral Service. Service will be held on Friday May 27, 2022, at 11am at Voss and Sons Funeral Service. Burial will take place at Robertson Cemetery following the service. Family request memorial contributions be made to Seymour Noon Lions Club in care of Voss and Sons Funeral Service.
What a great story. We don’t pay educators enough.