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Five enter Education Hall of Fame

Sharon Amrhein, Rhonda Burchett, Pam Noble, Mark Beard and Doug Ledman (from left) are the newest members of Fayette County School’s Education Hall of Fame following induction Tuesday at the Whitewater Career Center.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Memories flowed Tuesday as five retired teachers entered the Fayette County Education Hall of Fame, which brought many laughs ... and a few tears.

The Hall welcomed Sharon Amrhein, Mark Beard, Rhonda Burchett, Doug Ledman and Pam Noble at the annual banquet Tuesday in the Culinary Arts’ Class Act at the Whitewater Career Center.

The Hall of Fame Banquet is the first event to be held in the remodeled Class Act Restaurant.

“We didn’t know if it was going to be done and they were in here the last few days putting finishing touches on,” said Superintendent Scott Collins. “This was done by the Career Students in construction trades.”

He also recognized his fourth grade teacher at Frazee Elementary, 101-year-old Lizzie Mae Barrett.

Hall of Fame Member Judy Riebsomer introduced Amrhein, her nominee for the Hall.

Amrhein taught several different elementary grades, coordinated the reading lab, was a Reading Recovery teacher as well as being Fayette County Teacher of the Year and a finalist for Indiana Teacher of the Year, she said.

“As a classroom teacher, both my children were lucky enough to have her for a teacher,” she said. “I was impressed how she made learning interesting.”

But she made her biggest impact as a trainer for other teachers and empowered teachers to implement the best, most up-to-date practices, Riebsomer said.

“She is the one person who made the biggest impact on classrooms across Fayette County in the 29 years I was a teacher here,” she said. “She leaves behind a legacy as an educator that will be in classrooms for years to come.”

Amrhein said the Fayette County Schools has some of the finest teachers in the state. When doing workshops in Carmel or other locations and seeing what they had done and what they had to work with, that re-enforced that idea.

She gave thanks to retired Assistant Superintendent Tala Clay who always supported what she was doing and whenever possible, provided funding for books.

Connersville School Principal Randy Judd introduced Beard, a CHS graduate who also worked 40 hours a week at Stant his senior year. He taught 35 years and coached football, basketball, baseball and sponsored student organizations. He now serves on the Fayette County School board.

He said that neither of his parents graduated high school but installed the importance of education in their three children.

“Students for me are always the first thing,” he said. “I miss them, (I) don’t miss a lot of the other stuff.”

He recalled the time Superintendent Teresa Eineman called him to the office. A girl had dropped out of school three weeks previously but she re-enrolled.

“She said she came back because of you,” Beard recalled. “I couldn’t remember what I told her, probably that it was a mistake. That’s a memory. I ran into a girl a few years ago who said ‘You had my mom in class and had me in class.’ In 35 years that happens a lot. ‘You had my son in class.’ I remember little things like that.”

Daughter-in-law Kelly Burchett introduced Rhonda Burchett, an elementary teacher first at Eastview and later at Frazee.

Burchett sponsored the Young Astronauts Club at Eastview and took the students to NASA’s Huntsville, Ala. location and to Cape Kennedy, Fla. She also took students on several trips to Washington, D.C. and made the classroom come alive, Kelly said.

After retirement, she has taught adult basic education helping those students earn their high school equivalency diploma, she said. In all she did, she tried to make this a better place to live

“I could teach reading, writing, social studies, science and math for 180 days but in a four-day period I could open up a whole new world for kids and show them things,” Rhonda said. “One student looked at a statute of George Washington at Mt. Vernon and another student walked up and said ‘You mean he was really real?’”

Children don’t have many doors that are open but the goal is to open doors and show them possibilities, she said.

CHS teacher Brian Todd said Doug Ledman served as his mentor and he could not have asked for more. Ledman gave 31 years as a teacher, department chair, coach and assistant athletic director.

As a mentor, he went above and beyond that role and even provided meals at his home, all for helping install ceiling fans, Todd said. He did not serve as a purveyor of facts and dates but endeavored to provide tools of success for their future educational and life pursuits.

“My success as a new teacher was paramount in his eyes and for his caring effort, I will be forever grateful,” he said. “So many other students, teachers and staff members have him to thank for being such a positive role model.”

“I was lucky and proud to be part of the best department at CHS, social studies,” Ledman recalled. “I look around and see colleagues and my ex-students that do a lot of great things for Connersville. I thank you for the opportunity to teach in Connersville. Everyday was great and still is in my memory with people like you.”

Noble had leadership, dedication and a caring attitude that makes her worthy of the Hall, Judd said. She taught from 1979 until 1996 when she became athletic director. She served on the Indiana High School Athletic Association from 2000 to 2012.

She led the Spartan Readers program which helped many students enjoy reading. She sent students from the high school to the elementary school to talk to students.

Coaching allowed her to see the kids in a different light than in the classroom and she got to see them perform and improve, Noble said.

“I love organizing and hosting events so our students athletes could have that home-court advantage,” she said. “I took pride that we could host so many things and bring people into this community like the Spartan Classic.”

When making tough decisions as an athletic director, she said the number one thing would be to make the right decision for kids.

When working with students, it must be fun. Kids need to see that and need to see educators as more than just someone who presents information and knowledge in order to build those relationships, Collins said. Those already in the Hall and those being inducted have established those relationships and impacted children.

“It’s not just about going to the classroom and teaching, it’s all the extra you do for kids,” he said. “You five individuals did that.”