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Monrovia history teacher preserves school, history with students

MONROVIA, Ind. (WISH) — If you take a tour of Monrovia High School, you’ll see Mr. Steve Reeder’s history handiwork down every major hallway.

He’s filled display cases with real artifacts and powerful stories featuring war heroes, sports legends and educational pioneers.

“No one knows more about Monrovia history. At all. Easily,” said Faith Nagel, a senior at Monrovia High School.

Reeder has worked in Monroe-Gregg Schools for 21 years, estimates principal Mike Springer. Reeder has made changes to the halls of Monrovia High, but also the people inside.

“I first met him when he was a 10-year-old baseball player across the street,” laughs Mark Jaynes, media teacher at Monrovia HS but known to many as the voice of the Indy 500. “With his passion, talent and ability, Steve Reeder could go a lot of places but he’s chosen to stay home all these years and we’ve all benefited from that.”

Reeder works with senior student Harley Mobley to create the display cases and file for county and state historical markers. He’s gotten several markers up in recent years, honoring places like the Hubbard Mill and the West Union Friends Meeting (thought to be an underground railroad stop), as well as markers for the childhood homes of college basketball coaching greats John Wooden and Branch McCracken.

Senior Faith Nagel helps Reeder create documentaries compiling local history.

“It definitely helps show me that there’s more to just this random little farm town hidden in Indiana. There’s so much that has gone through this town that nobody knows,” Nagel said.

“He’s kind of a human archive,” adds English teacher Julie Dimmick. “Everybody delivers things to him because everyone in the community knows he will find the place for history.”

That is, if the school can find an actual place for the pieces of history.

“We cannot find enough display cases for him,” laughs principal Springer. “I know that sounds crazy but if you go out and about, I think a lot of us are trying to find more display cases.”

Monrovia High School librarian Jennifer Armour sent in Reeder’s Golden Apple nomination.

“You think it’s nerdy but it’s not,” she said. “To know we have somebody here who cares to archive it and preserve it for [students], It’s unbelievable to have it at our fingertips.”

So we gathered our facts, double-checked our data and prepared for a surprise that could be worthy of the history books.

Reeder was teaching a psychology class when two of our videographers with camera lenses walked through the door, trained on his face.

“Pretty shocked and overwhelmed,” said Reeder after he received the golden trophy and $500 check from Golden Apple sponsor partner Bailey and Wood Mortgage Lender. “When the light was coming down the hallway I had no idea what was going to happen.”

We played his custom nomination video for the class.

“He is not an ‘I’ and ‘me’ guy he’s an ‘us’ and ‘we’ guy and we are lucky to have him,” said Janes in the video.

“Steve, I know this is your nightmare. Cameras coming in your room,” said Dimmick. “But you deserve it.”

WISH-TV’s Brenna Donnelly asked Reeder how he was feeling after watching the video.

“Sill very, very overwhelmed but very appreciative for everyone who recognized what we have done,” said Reeder. “The successes I’ve had have been largely because of what the kids have achieved.”

“I think success is a combination of time and effort,” he added,” and if I look back at what I first did when I was teaching, people would not have thought I’d get here. If I were to write a book about teaching, it would be don’t do what I did. It’s really hard to teach.”

But teaching is something Reeder does so thoroughly. Several of his students and coworkers shared nuggets of information about Monrovia during the course of this Golden Apple surprise, including stories about Monrovia natives in the Civil War. Watch the full Golden Apple surprise video at the top of this page to learn more.

To watch other Golden Apple Award recipients, click this link.

To nominate a deserving teacher for next month’s Golden Apple Award, submit a detailed nomination here.