Seniors look forward to future teaching careers



Four Dubois County high school seniors received good news recently when they were announced as recipients of the Next Generation Hoosier Educators scholarship.

The scholarship awards $7,500 annually, up to $30,000, for students pursuing education degrees as long as they commit to teaching for at least five years in Indiana.

That requirement won’t be a problem for Northeast Dubois High School senior Taylor Dodd.

“I see myself staying in Indiana for the rest of my life,” she said.

Taylor will begin studying elementary education at Indiana University in Bloomington this fall. She can’t remember a time when she wasn’t interested in a career in education. Her father, Brian, teachers business classes at NDHS, and Taylor remembers helping him grade papers when she was younger.

After enrolling in the education professions vocational class this year, Taylor knows it’s the career for her. Before schools closed for the year due to COVID-19, she was student teaching in Jennifer Ashby’s third grade class at Dubois Elementary. She loved interacting with the students and hearing about their day. Even though she can’t be physically in class with the third-graders anymore, she’s still learning about teaching. Her experience with e-learning during the COVID-19 emergency has shown her what kind of teacher she wants to be.

“I want to be the type of teacher that is very understanding and wants to help with whatever they can,” she said.

She noted that the teachers who have been understanding with her during e-learning have made the experience less stressful.


Another NDHS senior, Jara Braunecker, will also pursue a degree in elementary education. She decided to explore a career in education two years ago, when she enrolled in Amy Mitchell’s education professions class and student taught in a third grade class. She’ll never forget how the students’ eyes lit up when she taught them.

“They all look so happy to be there, and I like that,” Jara said.

She will attend the University of Evansville this fall and is most excited for the student teaching. She’s most interested in forming relationships with her students and being someone they can trust. The student teaching will let her start doing that.

“I’ll be helping to form the future,” she said. “I want to be a good role model for the kids.”

Jasper High School senior Abbey Armstrong will also pursue a career in elementary education. She took two years of education classes at JHS and student taught at Tenth Street Elementary and Jasper Middle School. Although she gained valuable experience at both grade levels, she enjoyed the elementary students at Tenth Street the most.

“They’re so fun and spontaneous,” she said. “One day was never the same as another.”

She’ll attend Ball State University in Muncie and is most excited for classes that involve student teaching. Once she graduates and has her own classroom, a big focus will be making school a place her students want to be.

“I think that’s really what teaching is all about,” she said. “Of course, you have the curriculum they need to learn, but that relationship can show them why what they’re learning is important.”

Southridge High School senior Brianna Stasel will use her scholarship to study music education at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

“Music is a big passion of mine,” she said.

She’s been told stories about singing in church as a 2-year-old, and as soon as she was old enough, she joined band and choir. By watching Southridge Band Director Lannie Butler and Choir Director Erich Kendall, Brianna became interested in music education. Before schools closed for the year, she did some student teaching with Butler in sixth grade band and with Kendall in freshman mixed choir. The experience confirmed that she was on the right track. She most enjoyed the opportunity to bond with the students.

“I wasn’t the teacher, so I could bond with them in a different way but still be a positive influence for them,” she said.

When she gets to ISU, Brianna said, she’s most excited to participate in band and choir at the college level. She’s also excited for the education classes. So far, she hasn’t taken many education classes, so she’s excited to learn more about that side of music education.

Although she hasn’t thought too far ahead about where she’d like to teach after college, she knows she’d like to stay in Indiana.

JHS graduate and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis student Brooke Perkins also received the Next Generation Hoosier Educators scholarship this year.

According to a press release from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 367 high school seniors and college students applied for Next Generation Hoosier Educators scholarships this year, and 200 were awarded.

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