Silver Street Elementary
|Veteran employee retires after 48 years of teaching in the school system
By Jon Ferguson, online director
First-grade teacher Ellen Ruth will be retiring at the end this school year after 30 years of teaching at Pine View, and 48 years of teaching overall. Though she said she is excited to end her career, she will be missing out on a lot.
“I will definitely miss the kids. I love getting to know them and their personalities.
I’ve always loved children and I love being around children,” said Ruth.
She started teaching at age 21, just a year after graduation.
“I was teaching at Galena when Floyd Central was first being built,” she said.
After a long career of teaching, Ruth said that it was just time to retire.
“After 48 years I think I needed time to myself. Everything is getting more complicated towards computers, and I am not very computer literate,” said Ruth.
Thirty years of teaching at Pine View has given Ruth a chance to see what the school is all about. She said that the school is definitely a large family.
“They are number one for the kids. They really take care of their kids and their families,” she said.
Ruth said she has also noticed how children are reacting to the school closing, and how teachers’ reactions affect kids.
“It’s not the excitement of going somewhere new, it’s ‘I’m going to miss Pine View’,” said Ruth
Almost five decades of teaching has taught Ruth something about how the children learn.
“Always try to be as positive as you can be, and when you find something they are having trouble with, work with it as much as you can. Do things over and over,” she said.
Program feeds children
Children’s Academy feeds New Albany through Blessings in a Backpack
By Chelsey Carr
According to Blessings in a Backpack website, in the United States one out of every six children is at risk of going hungry. This is almost 12.4 million children.
Children’s Academy of New Albany (CANA) is an early education school which consists of students in grades preschool through third grade. Founder of Kentucky Harvest and USA Harvest Stan Curtis started a branch of the program Blessings in a Backpack in 2005. It is an organization that sends home food in a backpack over the weekend with impoverished kids. He had been told that CANA’s surrounding area was extremely needy. CANA principal Terri Boutin was called to former superintendent Dennis Brooks office to discuss the Blessings in a Backpack program with Curtis after he ran the idea by Brooks.
“Stan told me he wanted to send canned goods home in backpacks on weekends. He gave us the backpacks and food and we provided every kid with one,” said Boutin
Out of the 300 children that attend CANA most live in some form of public housing. Also, three percent of them eat lunch and breakfast at a reduced price and 93 percent eat for free, according to Boutin.
Blessingsinabackpack.com informs that hungry children are sick more frequently and have lower academic achievement, as well. Poor nutrition early in life can impair neural development, leading to lower IQ. Before Blessings in a Backpack many of the students at CANA were underfed over the weekends because they did not have the school to provide a meal for them.
“People plan their weekend meals around the backpacks. They will get the backpack Friday and go to the store Saturday and fill in the missing holes,” said Boutin.
Stan Curtis founded Kentucky Harvest and USA Harvest to combat the hunger that plagues America as a nation. He wants to help future generations and those suffering in our own country,
“I can’t tell you how many people have told me ‘We as Americans need to take care of our own. These programs are a way to take care of our own children without spending a lot of money,” said Curtis.
CANA includes one seventh of Indiana’s population involved in the Blessings in a Backpack program because only seven schools in the state of Indiana are participating in this supportive program.
This important program has received substantial support from Kentucky Harvest and its affiliates. However, locating funding has been an issue in Southern Indiana.
“It has been really rough finding funding in Southern Indiana. If it weren’t for Horseshoe Casino we would be bad news. I wish more people cared. The program is so simple. All you need is a backpack and 80 dollars. That will feed one child for an entire year,” said Curtis.
In order to aid the program, Horseshoe Casino raffles off guitars when a band comes to the casino to play a concert and the money earned from the raffle tickets is donated to Blessings in a Backpack. If Horseshoe did not help fund this program, it would be unavailable to the hungry children in Southern Indiana.
There are two main ways to help support the program. The first is to hold a backpack raiser, where many backpacks are collected to give to the children. The second option is to raise money and donate 80 dollars at a time to feed children one at a time. Blessings in a Backpack has received support from local high schools as well as major corporations, such as Meijer. The high schools will fundraise for the program with what they call “jeans day.”
“The students have to pay one dollar to wear a pair of jeans to school on a Friday. They make around 800 dollars, which will feed 10 kids for a whole year. The food makes a difference in attendance and grades,” said Curtis.
The program has had so much influence and success that it is anticipated every week. For some, it is the highlight of their week.
“Our kids look forward to Blessings in a Backpack. It’s such a wonderful program. New parents [new to the school] are so surprised when they see their children with these special backpacks every weekend,” said 21st century community learning center project assistant Denise Barber.
However, CANA will be closed at the end of this school year.
“Unfortunately, Children’s Academy will not be a school serviced next year. We are going to have another school take place of it next year. We want to expand it to another school next year and feed another 300 children,” said Curtis
How has the Blessings in a Backpack program helped your students?
Veteran teacher remembers Galena
After spending 39 years of teaching in one building, a person learns many names and faces. Galena Elementary fifth-grade teacher Steven Smith has many memories from the years he has taught at the school.
Teaching for so long takes a lot of effort to remember one memorable event.
“I remember one year, I don’ remember specifically, but the Becht boys rode their horses to school on the last day,” chuckles Smith.
The boys had to tie the horses to a tree in front of the building.
Smith said there have been various physical changes at the school as well. Before Galena was remodeled, the cafeteria was also the gym.
“The school was being remodeled, and everything was connected by ‘hamster tubes’. There was this guy, Jack Skaymel, building a new wing for the teachers. Then the cafeteria was filled with empty boxes, so this guy Jack decides to make a classroom. He stacked all the boxes in the cafeteria and we called him ‘Jack in the box’,” laughs Smith.
Throughout renovations, new teachers, and new students, Smith has remained in the exact same room in the building.
“I have been in this room for 39 years,” said Smith, “they told me I couldn’t rearrange things because I may get a new room. I have been here for 39 years. I’ve never moved!”
Smith’s classroom has never changed location; which makes it easier for former students to locate him.
“I had a former student come into a job at my house. He was in his early 30’s, and told me he had a funny story from my class. He told me he had his first kiss while we were watching the science channel. We had those old-time projectors where you had to turn off the lights, and he told me he was kissed in the dark,” giggled Smith.
Former students of Smith remember his bubbly attitude and positive outlook on teaching. Staff members at Galena also place the same feelings toward him.
“He is Galena! He has been here forever, and he always gives 110 percent. He is always helping, and truly cares about everyone,” says kindergarten teacher Amy Shanks.
“Mr. Smith is a great guy. He is very hardworking and dedicated. He always keeps us going and a positive way with a smile on his face,” said fourth-grade teacher Tammy Fancher.
The reactions from students and staff to the question: ‘What do you think of Mr. Smith’, tend to have the same outcome of buoyant comments.
Smith has built many relationships over his course of teaching. He can recall the younger years of his teaching career with a clear memory.
“It was my third year teaching, and we were all lining up to go on a field trip. I had told one student if he couldn’t behave then he needed to have a seat. So we arrived at the field trip, and on our way back I took attendance: I was one count short. So I had to walk around to find a phone to call the school, because we didn’t have cellphones, and I asked the secretary to check my room. She told me he was sitting there at his desk. He really sat down and stayed there because I told him if he couldn’t behave himself he needed to have a seat,” reflected Smith.
Any person who has witnessed the character of Smith knows he is a humorous individual. Every Friday, Smith has a ‘happy Friday’ song that he sings before students load the buses. Smith always has a smile on his face and jokes waiting to be told.
“I like to think of myself as more of a serious teacher,” joked Smith.
While Smith may joke of having a serious personality, there are former students who would disagree.
“Mr. Smith was an awesome teacher. He always had something fun planned for class, and he was also pretty funny. My fifth grade year was great and I’m glad I had Mr. Smith as a teacher,” stated sophomore Brittany Murray.
Smith will always hold title as ‘king of Galena’. The passion Smith carries for teaching has been seen through the countless years of his profession. He shows that 39 years of educating students has not yet come to and end in the form of retirement. Smith plans to continue teaching and continue to make memories.
“I’m not gonna retire when they close the building, I am gonna show them. I love teaching too much to quit,” said Smith.