Today, we bring you one of Sylvia Henricks’ “Remembrances.” You can read more of Sylvia’s columns weekly in The Franklin Township Informer, or in her book From The Ash Grove (available directly from the FTHS, and via the web site).
“Did you always want to be a teacher?” I asked Mary Nine, recent recipient of the prestigious History Teacher of Indiana Award, presented to her in a surprise ceremony at Thompson Crossing Elementary School by Dr. Tony Bennett and FTCSC Superintendent Walter Bourke. (See Dec. 7, 2011 issue of The Franklin Township Informer.)
“I always loved to read,” she said. “My favorite stories were about history, especially the Colonial Period, but I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do until I graduated from Franklin Central in 1974 and enrolled at Indiana Central University. I had to decide on a course of study. I chose education and got my bachelor’s degree in 1978. Then I went to Butler University where I earned my master’s degree. I substituted for a while at Bunker Hill School. Then one of the teachers had to take a leave of absence. Her 5th grade class was hard to handle, and none of the teachers wanted it. So they hired me. I never had any trouble with the class.”
Thirty-two years later, she is still teaching 5th grade. “I love history,” she says as we talked in the teachers’ lounge at Thompson Crossing School, “and fifth graders are a ‘just-right’ age to teach. They’re ready to learn, they like to write, and they can appreciate a joke. And the time period designated for 5th grade is my favorite historical period, the Colonial era to the writing of the Constitution.” Mary has taught at various township schools, Bunker Hill, Kitley, and now Thompson Crossing. She teaches both regular and more advanced students.
Mary has attended many enriching summer programs, for which she submits applications. These have included A National Endowment Grant for a week to study in New England, visiting Walden Pond, and other sites, a grant to spend a week in Greenfield, Indiana, learning about James Whitcomb Riley, and another grant to study in the Lincoln Museum and Library in Springfield, Illinois. “ Most gatifying of all,” she says, “was a visit to Washington, D.C. for the dedication of the World War II Memorial in 2000.”
Family vacations have always included historic sites. Mary laughs as she says her daughters used to ask if the family could sometime take a trip where there was not something historic to see. Mary and her husband, Ken, an engineer, have two daughters, Bethany, in law school, and Cathleen, using her history degree in PR work.
Mrs. Nine uses the skills she has learned from her own applying for study grants, to help other teachers apply, for helping students apply for admission to college, and for job applicants. She calls her service “On Target Resumes,” and hopes to continue it after retirement
“I also hope to read,” she says, “do volunteer work, and visit those states – about half of them – I have not yet seen.” The Township Historical Society congratulates Mrs. Nine on her accomplishments, and expresses our appreciation for her promotion of our national, sate, and community history.