PO Box 251, Borden, IN 47106 bbf@bordenbravesfoundation.com


A Lifetime of Borden Schools

It has been some time since we published any “blogs”, but I felt compelled to put some thoughts into words, that I hope will resonate with our supporters. 

As my youngest graduates today, I have been reflecting on what it truly means when we hear the tag #onceabravealwaysabrave.  For over 40 years of my life, I have been a Brave, I came to Borden in 7th grade out of St John’s Elementary.  My path was to spend 7th and 8th grade at Borden and then onto the Private School track.  I think it was mostly my persistence that kept me at Borden, but also my parents seeing that the private education that they were paying an exuberant amount of money for my older brother wasn’t working out as well as planned.  I could write about that part of our lives in itself, but this blog isn’t about what could have been, it is about what was. 

I started off as a decent student through the first 3 years at Borden, but in my Sophomore year, I started going down a road that wasn’t the best path for me.  Hanging out with older kids and doing things, that well a 15- or 16-year old’s shouldn’t be doing.  My English teacher, Mrs. Heavrin, saw that I was misbehaving, not necessarily in school, but not being the best version of myself in any way.  One morning, I believe I had her for second period, she came to my desk, grabbed me by my ear and pulled me out into the hallway.  I literally thought my ear was detached from my head!  She gave me a choice that morning, get my crap together or she was going to wreak havoc on my life.  I don’t recall the exact language or discussion, but what I do recall is at that moment, I had a teacher that cared about me enough to teach me a lesson and that lesson was received.  I have told the entirety of this story to several people over the years, and one regret I have is that I never got to thank her for that moment in my life. 

Now I had a lot of great teachers at Borden, who all cared, who all knew me, who all wanted the best for me as well as my fellow classmates.  I think what sets Borden apart is that every teacher knows every student by name.  The staff connects in a way to the students that allows them to become more involved. 

I was teased about going to Borden, I went to a church where most everyone went to Floyd or Providence, I was in catholic youth organization with all students where I was the only one from Borden.  Back in my day we had un-classed sports so we would get our butts kicked in sectional play.  We had a great band that I was proud to be involved with, but that was classed, so it was easier to compete and show our success.

My time at Borden, no doubt, set me up for success in my life.  I graduated college with a BS, had my own company for nearly 10 years, and have been a top account manager with a global company for 25 years now. 

All three of my children are MUCH better students that I ever was, all of them in the top 10 in their graduating classes.  All of them way better athletically then I ever dreamed of being, and all of them set up for success, largely in part due to their education at Borden Schools.  My oldest graduated college with a Masters in 4 years due to having nearly 30 credit hours coming out of high school.  My son will be graduating college within 3 years with the similar credit hours, and my youngest is entering college as a Sophomore due to her credit hours. 

I have the privilege of reading a lot of teacher testimonials over the past 4-5 years from students and I wanted to share some of them (keeping names out):

Mr Lambert  has taught me the value of honesty, dedication, and hard work, and has helped me become the best person I can be. I will always remember the impact he has made on my life.

“Coach Geltmaker taught me how to manage being an athlete while also prioritizing my education and passions

“ If it weren’t for him, I never would have fallen in love with music the way I have. I never would have known how badly I had needed music, nor would I have discovered this part of me that I never knew existed.” (Mr. Lambert)

“He has been my chemistry, AP Chemistry, pre calc/trig, and AP Calculus teacher. He has pushed me to limits I didn’t think were possible.”  (Mr.Oakes)

She influences me each day to be a better person and be the bright smile my students will see when they walk into my classroom just as I see when I step into her office. No one has been more influential to my education and future than Mrs. Cavins.

“Every teacher at Borden has influenced me in some way or another, but I believe Coach Nash is the one teacher I will never forget. He makes every student at Borden feel loved no matter how different or how difficult they are. I have been his PE Aide for the last two years of my high school career and on the first day of every school year I admire the way he lets his students know that no matter what, he is there for them.”

“Borden schools hit the jackpot when they hired Mr. Oakes. I have had some great teachers over my 12 years at Borden, but Mr. Oakes always demonstrates patience and genuinely wants to make sure everyone understands what he is teaching.

The teacher I feel has influenced me the most would be Mr. Oakes because he is always making sure you understand what you are doing, he goes beyond what he would have to do for not other the students but the school as well. Mr. Oakes became a teacher because he wanted to impact his students lives and it shows.

“He has taught me valuable lessons and always led me in the right direction. He has shown how much a person can mean to community and school and how all the little things they do can make a great impact on the community.” (Coach Nash)

“Mr. Stotts is one of the best teachers in this school. Not because he is my baseball coach. He is an amazing teacher. He works so well with kids. He is so involved with everyone. You can tell he cares so much about everyone.

“Mr. Stott’s ability to get the whole class involved in the lesson is something that I will always appreciate. Not only did it make the class more enjoyable, but it also helped me retain the information we were learning. His influence on my life here at Borden High school Is something I will always be grateful for.”

“Mr. Oakes is someone that I will really miss when I graduate and certainly someone I will never forget.

“A teacher that I would say has influenced me the most would be Mrs. Gleason. She truly cares about every student in the school and she wants everyone to succeed in her class. She believes every student has the ability to do good in school. She believes that not all students don’t learn the same and she finds new ways to get her students to get engaged with what she teaches in her class.

It’s a great feeling when your teacher understands what it was like being in school and treats us like young adults. The rapport he builds with his students is truly amazing. On behalf of every student who has been taught by Mr.Oakes I believe we owe him a thank you for pushing us to be the best we can, for respecting us, and for giving us the advice we all need at times.

As our tag line reads “A Community School Providing a Private Educational Experience”, we really are that school and community.  I see it every time I walk into our school doors, every time I have the privledge of mentoring students, when I talk to teachers and staff.  Are we perfect?  No – absolutely not, but education is an ever-evolving institution and what we need to continue to do is push our leaders to stay up with that evolution and continue to be school that our students, community, alumni, parents and supporters can be proud of. 

As I come to close out having myself of my children involved with Borden Schools for those 40 years, I have no intention of going away.  I find passion in the work we do as a foundation, and it is an honor to be able to give back in some small way.  With that being said, the time for finding the next transitional leadership for the foundation is on the horizon.  I ask of anyone that has gotten this far into this blog, step up and join the foundation if you have not.  Reach out and discuss being on our Board of Directors, I can assure you it is gratifying to give back. 

Kevin Smith, Class of 1989

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