The Warpath

Understanding Mariemont’s Own: Donna Neumann


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BY JACOB MANTLE

One of Mariemont’s renowned teachers and student favorites, Mrs. Neumann, plans to retire after 2019. This decision does not go without notice of the impact she has not only left on the students but the high school and faculty as well.

Growing up in Louisville, Mrs. Neumann immersed herself in reading. Her favorite book she read while she was in school was Pride and Prejudice.

It’s about smart girls who don’t do what they’re supposed to do, but in the end it turns out okay for them,” said Neumann. The teacher adds, “It’s tough in our culture still for smart girls, it’s easier for dumb girls or smart girls who play dumb who are pretty enough, which is really a sad situation.”

She graduated from the University of Louisville, and received teaching certification from Xavier. Neumann began her career teaching at Mount Notre Dame High School as well as Indian Hill during the summer. She says she enjoyed teaching at MND because it was an all-girls school.

Neumann plans to retire after the 2019 school year. (PHOTO BY MARIEMONT SCHOOLS)

“They’d say-‘oh cute outfit,’ or if there was something wrong-‘oh there’s a run in your hose.’ We always had a fun time in class.”

Having taught all grades from seventh to twelfth, Neumann continues to enjoy coming to school everyday, teaching young scholars of today to become better readers and writers.

“There have been days I have been tired, but I have always looked forward to coming in, being with teenagers–they’re fun and interesting,” said the seasoned teacher. She adds, “I love my content area because I am really good at it. I am more of a critic…I can see how things work, and I can explain it to you, but if someone told me to go home and write a poem, it would be crap.”

Principal Dr. Renner adds, “Mrs. Neumann has this thing that I like to call a relentless mindset. She will never give up. She sticks to things. She gives 100% every day. You really can’t ask for anymore. She really doesn’t take any days off–literally and figuratively.”

Her class is structured and organized according to senior Chloe Reavill, who was a student of Neumann’s during her sophomore year. She says, “Mrs. Neumann is super organized and has a schedule–that’s what I like about her.”

“I am pretty structured in my approach to most things in life. But I am also a free thinker,” said Neumann.

Students can find Mrs. Neumann’s structure within her classes. She holds student seminars after reading independent novels so students can ask questions and further demonstrate their comprehension. She also creates difficult tests according to students like junior Nolan Buck and Reavill as well.

Buck adds, “I became a better student because of her book discussions and tests.”

According to Neumann, most of her tests are standardized. She said, “I change some standardized tests like adding quotes. I think quotes are a skill. If you don’t practice it, you’re always going to stink at it. And you will always be in dread if you encounter them, whereas if you’ve had some of those experiences before, the task will become easier to complete.”

Mrs. Neumann says she still has the same goal at the end of day for her students as she did at the beginning of her 33-year career.

“I want students to understand themselves and to have some skills about how to deal with the troubles of life. So many of the books we read make people able to understand their own lives better. I couldn’t teach a book that I thought had a damaging lesson,” she said.

Her advice to students for in her classes is, “It always helps if you really read the book.”

Fellow faculty member and english teacher, Mr. Becksfort adds, “She was my mentor teacher here my first year at Mariemont. She really knows teaching.”

Dr. Renner adds, “I have known Mrs. Neumann since I was assistant principal here, 19 years ago, and I am very grateful for her.”

According to a former student of Neumann’s, sophomore JP Normile, “She made us work hard. Since she pushed us harder than we could go, she made us better.”

However, Neumann does not give all credit to herself.

“I accredit the students saying they are better writers to hard work–for all of us. It is different from math and science because you can show up with your brain. Even if you’re really good at writing–very seldom do you just crank it out. You usually have to do it over and over to get it right,” said the teacher.

Neumann’s podium shows off her love to travel as she has visited all of the stickers’ places. (PHOTO BY MANTLE)

While staying busy with all of her classes and National Honor Society, Neumann loves to travel and listen to music.

“My husband is a child of the 60’s, and I am child of the 70’s. We have been to Foo Fighters and have gone to many Chicago concerts.”  She adds, “Students always come in at the beginning of the year asking, ‘Have you been all those places?’ (referring to the stickers on her podium), and I say ‘yes I have.’”

One thing Neumann says she has been able to capture in the last 19 years working in the Mariemont community is “how wonderful of a place Mariemont is.”

She says, “I think what we saw at the NHS Induction was a great embodiment of Mariemont: everybody loves the kids, everybody wants the best, lots of nurturing, lots of approval, maybe a little indulgement sometimes, but everybody wants their kid to learn.”

“I always try to remember to say thank you for coming and thanks for learning,” adds Neumann about students leaving her class after the bell rings.

 

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Understanding Mariemont’s Own: Donna Neumann