FORTVILLE –– It definitely wasn’t her first rodeo.
For Fortville Elementary School teacher Nancy Brunnemer, a long legacy concluded last week when the soon-to-be-retired kindergarten teacher led her final ABC Rodeo literacy effort.
It was a program she started years ago, though she doesn’t exactly remember when it began.
“The ABCs are something you learn in kindergarten. It ties into learning their ABCs and their sounds,” Brunnemer said.
She started working for Mt. Vernon in 1980 and did not begin the ABC Rodeo right away. She taught first grade for 20 years and spent her whole career with Mt. Vernon Schools. She has taught first, fourth and fifth grade as well as kindergarten. Brunnemer has spent all 34 years of her teaching career in Fortville.
The ABC Rodeo gives Brunnemer’s students a chance to show what they are learning to schoolmates and their parents with performances that include dressing up in cowboy gear and using the alphabet using rodeo-related words for each letter. For the letter B, for example, the children called out “Bucking Bronco” and acted out the part of an out-of-control horse.
Previously, there was an ABC Circus that was a popular event at the school. Brunnemer took that idea and turned it into the ABC Rodeo.
Many parents who have children in Brunnemer’s class are glad to see their kids participate in the ABC Rodeo.
Pam Kingery, who attended the final event last week, has four daughters who were all taught by Brunnemer, a stroke of luck for which she is very thankful.
When Kingery was putting her oldest daughter through elementary school, she heard that Brunnemer was transferring to first grade from fifth grade. She was at first nervous about a former fifth-grade teacher returning to instruct younger students. That feeling didn’t last long.
“She is wonderful and a very patient and sweet woman,” Kingery said. “My first two years I got lucky and my kids got her. For the second two kids, I requested her.”
Linda Hochstetler also had younger family members go through Brunnemer’s classroom.
“She taught my three older granddaughters in first grade and my youngest granddaughter, who is 16,” Hochstetler said. “(Brunnemer has) just gotten
better and better and better. She’s a very good teacher. I don’t know whether (the students are) as old as her or she’s as young as them.”
Brunnemer stays young by riding horses and actually met her husband, Rob, riding them in Brown County.
“I’ve always had horses, I’ve always ridden horses,” Brunnemer said.
She extends her love of horses into charitable efforts, by joining with the Indiana Trail Riders Association and volunteering with the organization. She wanted to share the cowboy spirit with her students while also helping them learn the alphabet.
Brunnemer’s last rodeo on April 10, had a few special guests, including Mt. Vernon High School students Becky Pope, Peyton Wuerch, Brandi Kingery and Luke Stanley.
“We just wanted to see our old teacher,” Becky said.
The older students helped out and were introduced at the end of the ABC Rodeo performance for parents.
Now, all that’s left for Brunnemer is to make it to the end of the school year before she heads off into the sunset.
“I’m really excited about retirement. I’ve really enjoyed the rodeo very much. I’m ready to go onto the next phase of my life. I’m just ready,” Brunnemer said.
Immediate retirement plans call for a trip to the Grand Canyon later this fall and doing a lot of traveling and keeping her passions going by continuing to work with horses and more work within state parks.