RICHMOND, Ind. — Darcy Talbot is still on a high from her Teacher of the Year Championship Experience, and it showed from her chirpy “Good evening” as she stepped up to the podium at Wednesday’s Richmond Community School Board meeting to share a few details about her trip to Indianapolis.
“The experience was truly a dream come true,” Talbot said. “I’m still hyped up about it.”
More in local education:Richmond teacher to be recognized on college football’s biggest stage
As Richmond Community Schools’ 2020 Teacher of the Year, she was invited to fill out a questionnaire to apply for this experience, and she thought, “Well, it’s worth a shot.” Long story short, she got it.
Talbot comes from a football family; her father, Richard Bryant, was a football coach at Richmond High School 1981-2006, and he was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2012. While she took her husband to Monday’s championship game as her plus-one, she was able to invite her dad to some of the daytime activities that day.
Leading up to the game, Talbot had a four-night stay at the Hampton Inn in Indianapolis, right down the street from where the state teachers of the year were staying.
“I felt like I was with celebrities,” she said.
Friday night she attended a welcome party, where Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner was a guest speaker.
“Of course, I’m sitting there recording her because I teach fourth grade, and I’m like, ‘I have to show this to the kids,’” Talbot said.
Later that night, Talbot bumped into Jenner on the stairs and complimented her speech. Jenner took Talbot by both her hands and told her to find her later in the weekend so they could talk. Talbot fangirled, saying, “Oh my goodness” while describing the moment.
She participated in the Extra Yard for Teachers Summit Saturday and the Extra Yard for Teachers 5K Sunday.
STAY INFORMED AND SUPPORT LOCAL JOURNALISM: Subscribe today using the link at the top of this page.
One of the last things she did Sunday was attend a three-hour practice for how she and fellow teachers would carry the banners on the field at the game. Talbot said that was a prime example she relayed to her students of why practice is important.
When she returned to Richmond, Talbot had a drive to celebrate more teachers and said she wanted to brainstorm how RCS could make that happen moving forward.
“I came back excited, on fire and ready to pay it forward because other educators need to feel like this,” Talbot said. “It’s been a hard year, and that was a truly refreshing weekend being able to go to the game and talking to other educators. It was just truly amazing.”
Board members sworn in
Following the board’s celebration of Talbot, it moved on to swearing in board President John Weber and member Aaron Stevens to their oath of office. It was “a rather emotional time” for Stevens, being his seventh swearing in as a member of the board, and he reminisced about how he joined back in 1996.
Ironically, Talbot’s father, Bryant, and VanVleet Insurance Founder and CIC Eric VanVleet “just twisted my arm enough” to convince him to run for school board. He said the house he lived in at the time is no longer there, he remembers all the supporters he had there to witness his first swearing in and he remembers the tie he wore when it happened.
“I still believe in the mission of public education,” Stevens said as he addressed Talbot. “Every time I see your dad or Eric, I’m remembering that I was here simply because they thought enough of me or there were enough people who thought enough of me to ask me to run for this position.”
Stevens said he doesn’t like to get political, and he loves that this position gives him the freedom to vote on what’s best for the schools despite what any outside opinions might be.
“It’s got to be what is best for every child everywhere regardless of their color, regardless of where they come from or anything else,” Stevens said. “That is going to be my position for this time that I am sitting in this seat … I promise to serve to the best of my ability for every student, every family and everyone in our community.”
As he wrapped up his speech, other board members suggested he get a new headshot to display; his picture hanging in the RCS meeting space was taken when fellow board member Brad Walton and Superintendent Curtis Wright were seniors in high school.
After Stevens’ reflection, the board voted to keep the remaining leadership slate — Weber as president, Jeff Slifer as vice president and Nicole Stults as secretary — the same for another year.
Shortly after, board members also appointed Ron Cross of Boston Bever Forrest Cross and Sickmann as RCS’ attorney for the 45th year in a row. Cross referenced former board member David Stidham in his “thank you” to the board.
“He always brought a business perspective to this board,” Cross said. “One of the things he always said, in the proper context, was, ‘Don’t forget to say, “Thanks for the business.”’ I think that’s appropriate right now for me. On behalf of our firm and myself, thanks for the business, but, more importantly, thanks for the trust that your appointment reflects. That’s something we don’t take lightly, even in what is now beginning my 45th consecutive year in this position. It’s been an honor and a pleasure.”
New Dennis principal starts
The board also approved all items from its last meeting, which officially welcomed Andrew Graber to the RCS family as principal of Dennis Middle School.
More:Richmond Schools give teachers raises, hire Dennis principal, see athletic dept. changes
Graber has now put in over a week in his new position with students. He hadn’t been able to see his wife and two kids for a couple of weeks during the transition period, and he was thankful for the help along the way.
“I just want to give appreciation to Dr. Wright and your district leadership team for the support, guidance and encouragement provided to me during this time of transition,” Graber said. “It’s definitely been a whirlwind the last week and a half.”
Before coming to Richmond, Graber was an assistant principal, athletic director, attendance officer and various other positions all at once at Wawasee Middle School. Prior to that, he was an educator in the Middlebury Community Schools district.
“It was a tough decision to get into leadership solely for the reason of having to leave the classroom,” Graber said. “It’s something I know I have a strong passion for is teacher because of the direct impact I was able to have as a classroom teacher.”
Graber has been able to continue his style in switching to a leadership role, however, calling himself an “in the trenches” kind of leader. He said he welcomes anyone to stop by to talk to him, but chances are he’s bouncing back and forth between classrooms.
Building projects planned
Other items for the board Wednesday included approving a contract for educator and author Matt Miller to be the keynote speaker at the Summer of Learning Conference hosted by RCS July 20.
Board members approved a notice to bidders advertisement for Richmond High School corridor flooring replacements, which will be published Jan. 14 and 21. A bid opening will take place Feb. 18.
They also approved a contract for HVAC upgrade/replacement at Vaile, Westview and Charles.
Finally, they moved policies for weighted grades and class rank to second readings and reported that schools will follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation to reduce COVID-19 isolation time to five days.
Zach Piatt reports on sports and education for The Palladium-Item. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.