Linda Ortman, St. Louis School junior high math teacher, was named the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Educator Jan. 30.
She “has been a valued member of the St. Louis School faculty for 26 years. Her dedication to students is exemplary,” principal Chad Moeller noted while introducing the award winner. “She is knowledgeable, dedicated and willing to share her success to help other teachers.”
Arriving at school every morning at 6 a.m., “she uses this time to prepare for the day because when students arrive at 7:30 a.m., her time is devoted to them.You will find her teaching, helping students and answering questions the rest of the day. If a student needs extra attention, arrangements are made with parents to get the child to school early or for him/her to stay after school. It is not unusual for students to be in Mrs. Ortman’s room after school making up a missed test or getting tutored. Even with the early start to the day, she does not leave school until 5-6 p.m.
“Three years ago, when the Batesville Kiwanis (Club)began a community-tutoring program, Mrs. Ortman volunteered to be the coordinator for St. Louis School. The program is set up to have Kiwanian tutoring every Tuesday after school until 4 p.m. So every Tuesday ... she has been monitoring this activity. If this was all that was involved, it would still be impressive, but it does not even scratch the surface. There is a great deal of organization needed to identify the children most in need, get parent permission and then pair the tutor and child for the best possible match. Then, on a weekly basis, Mrs. Ortman gathers materials from other teachers to give to the tutors to work on. This is quite a task considering that we have 18 students that have individual needs, thus requiring individual materials. In addition, she makes last-minute adjustments for students that are at home sick and tutors that call in to cancel.”
The school leader pointed out, “You can tell she is dedicated to the kids, but is she effective? The state has given us a way to measure her success through hard data. For the past five years, our algebra students have taken the end-of-course assessment ... a state-mandated test to see if students have adequately mastered the material. This is one of the tests that students must pass to graduate from high school.
“In the past five years, 100 percent of our students have passed the ECA! That is impressive enough, but there is more. The state adds a special category for students that achieve an extraordinary level. They call it pass plus .... Every student in the past five years received a pass plus rating on their ECA ... (and) 17 students received a perfect score.”
Her “results are outstanding and amazing, but I also believe there are other aspects to teaching that are just as important as academic achievement. Students need to know that someone cares about them and, often times, a teacher needs to fill that role. Mrs. Ortman also excels in this area. I am amazed every spring when high school seniors getting ready to graduate come back to St. Louis to visit Mrs. Ortman and thank her. Three years ago, an entire group showed up together and brought her flowers.
“Four years ago, recent Anderson University graduate Amy Wuestefeld wrote Mrs. Ortman a beautiful letter explaining that she had inspired her to become a math teacher. Amy was hired this fall to teach math. There is no higher praise for a teacher than to have someone want to follow in your footsteps. This past year, I was interviewing candidates for a kindergarten position. When I asked why she went into teaching, one of the candidates became emotional when describing the influence Mrs. Ortman had on her. I don’t believe that Mrs. Ortman realizes the impact that she has on students and other teachers. Students, parents and colleagues have the utmost respect for her.”
Moeller added, “She will say that she does not deserve this award ... because she is very modest. She would tell you that she is just doing her job, but her colleagues and I would disagree. Linda Ortman is one of the best.”
Ortman expressed her gratitude by saying, “I am honored to receive this award and know there are many teachers just as deserving.”
The Greensburg resident is married to Gary Ortman and has three children, Eric Ortman, Melissa Yake and Deron Ortman, and four grandchildren, Joey, Wyatt and Parker Yake and Madelyn Ortman.
She said, “I would like to thank the chamber of commerce and the Batesville community for supporting education. Batesville has wonderful schools because of your interest in students. I would also like to thank my students, both present and past, along with their parents for their continued support and cooperation throughout the years. Another group I cannot forget are my co-workers, including Father Randy Summers and Mr. Chad Moeller for their support.
“I truly love teaching and find it very rewarding. God blessed me with a wonderful family and a rewarding profession as a teacher.”
Diane Raver can be contacted at email@example.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.