An educator described as one of the most driven and accomplished community and youth advocates in Bartholomew County will join an elite group Monday.

Janice Montgomery, who has worked for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. for most of her nearly four decades in education, will be enshrined in the school district’s Education Hall of Fame.

Chad Phillips, director of title services for BCSC and among several who submitted recommendation letters in support of Montgomery, said he was thankful to have met her early in his career. The pair first met when Phillips was an assistant principal at Central Middle School and eventually got to know each other more through their involvement in different BCSC programs.

“The amount of time and energy she puts in to serve kids is just amazing,” Phillips said.

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Montgomery has interacted with students while serving in different capacities during her time in Columbus.

Montgomery moved to the city with her husband Lynn in 1978 and was a substitute teacher at Richards and Schmitt elementary schools starting in 1981. She also taught at Columbus Christian School before obtaining her first full-time BCSC job in 1983 at Southside Elementary School, where she worked until 2002 and was assistant principal the final five years there.

Her involvement within the district has extended outside the classroom as well.

She was executive director of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation from 2009 to 2012, leading fundraising efforts for the district.

After leaving the job, Montgomery stepped in to help lead a fund drive last year with her successor, then-foundation director Ethan Crough, to restore two bronze statutes that had long been located outside the BCSC administration building.

The bronze figures of a girl, “Puddles,” and a boy, “Frog Pond,” originally were commissioned by the late James Baker, chairman of Arvin Industries, which had its headquarters at 1200 Central Ave., which now serves as the school district’s administrative offices.

The statutes were part of a series of sculptures at the Arvin headquarters. Also included was “Crack the Whip,” a piece that features children playing and holding hands that is now located on the POW-MIA plaza in downtown Columbus.

“Puddles” was stolen in 2012, leaving “Frog Pond” alone for several years until the district decided to remove the statute from its spot outside the administration building while a replacement for “Puddles” was commissioned.

Montgomery said when “Puddles” went missing, she thought it was important to do restore them since the statutes had been visible symbols of education.

“We need to be reminded daily when we drive down Central Avenue: That building is there for a reason and those children are reminders of that purpose that we all have,” she said.

Montgomery’s passion for education continues to this day as a substitute teacher for BCSC in grades K-12.

Selection to hall

She will join 37 previous teachers and administrators selected to the Education Hall of Fame who have been recognized for their contributions to the district.

Montgomery will be inducted Monday during a 7 p.m. school board meeting. It will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. reception for Montgomery.

The educator said joining BCSC’s Education Hall of Fame will be special for her, having known all but five of the previous 37 honorees.

To be considered, educators must have worked for the school district a minimum of 15 years as a licensed teacher or administrator. Individuals are selected by a committee of five people that includes a teacher, administrator, parent, patron and board member.

Montgomery will get a plaque as part of her recognition, while a second plaque will be placed in a school of her choosing.

She described receiving the award as being exceptionally humbling for her.

Laura Hack, director of elementary education for BCSC, praised Montgomery for her efforts in her recommendation letter.

“She is fully committed to ensuring all who know her feel welcomed, loved and cared for while setting a high standard for those to follow,” Hack said. “Her relationship with those surrounding her stimulates enthusiasm and excitement.”

Montgomery exemplifies what it means to be a life-long teacher and learner and at the highest level, Hack wrote.

“She is the kind of person that inspires each of us to be our best,” Hack said.

Montgomery, who grew up in Putnam County, was raised by parents — Oral and Cordelia McCullough — who were always strong advocates for education.

“They didn’t really ever tell me to be a teacher, but my grandfather had come from a family of seven kids and all of them were teachers except for my grandfather,” said Montgomery, who thought she would also enjoy being a teacher.

Instilling life lessons to her students has been a focus throughout Montgomery’s teaching career, encouraging them to never stop trying, to persevere in life and to ask lots of questions.

Montgomery said throughout her teacher career, she was often asked questions from students about topics such as astronomy, physics and music — questions that she didn’t have answers to. However, she always took the time to help them, she said.

“The best thing I could do would connect them to other adults … and get them resources,” Montgomery said.

Janice Montgomery

Career path

  • Janice Montgomery began her Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. career as a substitute teacher at Richards and Schmitt elementary schools before getting her first full-time teaching job at Southside Elementary School in 1983, where she worked until 2002, the final five years as assistant principal.
  • Montgomery was K-12 program director at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the Columbus Learning Center from 2002 to 2006.
  • Montgomery served as executive director of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation from 2009 to 2012.
  • She also worked at Parkside and Taylorsville elementary schools, serving as assistant principal during the first semester of 2016.
  • She has also volunteered to serve as schoolmarm, teaching students about school life in 1892 at the historic Simmons School in Hope.

Awards

  • First recipient of the Miyoshi Education Ambassador award from BCSC, 1996
  • Edna V. Volger Outstanding Teaching Award presented by the Center for Teaching and Learning at IUPUC, 1996
  • Torchbearer award from Indiana Commission for Women, presented to women who have stepped forward as leaders by breaking down barriers, 2011

If you go

A reception will be held recognizing Janice Montgomery’s induction into the Education Hall of Fame beginning at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Richards Elementary School. She will be formally recognized that evening at the school during the BCSC school board meeting at 7 p.m.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com