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The Teacher Pipeline in Action
Riley 3

As a fifth grader at Orchard Park Elementary, Riley Higginbotham probably didn't realize her math teacher would someday be her professional mentor and she would be working for her principal, Mrs. Turner. However, after attending Carmel Clay Schools for elementary through high school, followed by an education degree at Ball State University, we are proud to welcome Riley back to CCS as one of our new teachers for the 2023-24 school year. 

Riley's desire to return to her hometown to teach is a shining example of the teacher pipeline in action.  

"As Ms. Higginbotham starts her career at CCS, we celebrate her commitment to teaching and look forward to the positive impact she will undoubtedly have on the students at Clay Center Elementary," commented Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Oestreich. "Her journey through Carmel Clay Schools and back again serves as a testament to the importance of investing in our future educators and building a strong teacher pipeline for not only Carmel but across the state."

After moving to Carmel from Terre Haute, Riley started at the former Orchard Park Elementary in 4th grade. Following middle school at Creekside, Riley took multiple education courses as a Greyhound. While at Ball State, she jumped at the chance to participate in a student teaching program in your hometown. While student teaching mentor was Dana Locke, Riley's former 5th-grade math teacher! 


"Mrs. Locke was supportive, knowledgeable, and allowed me the space to dive in and take ownership of our class," remarked Riley about the program. "I was elated to find out that Clay Center was the new home for many Orchard Park staff members. I loved making connections and building relationships with my students over the course of the semester. It was a unique experience to work alongside so many people I had known from my time as an OPE student. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to continue to learn from so many excellent teachers. Clay Center holds such a special place in my heart after student teaching and I am honored that they have welcomed me back with open arms."

Riley credits her former teachers growing up with inspiring her to pay it forward for the next generation. 

"I have been lucky to have teachers in elementary school, middle school, and high school who I trusted deeply and who supported me inside and outside of the school environment," said Riley. "These teachers were a huge support system for me over the years. I can’t even begin to quantify the impact that they made on me."

Carmel Clay Schools is committed to ensuring a strong future for educators. CHS offers multiple education courses including internship opportunities and dual-credit for college. Each year, the CCS Human Resources team visits our CHS early education classes to speak with students about a future career and even guarantees an interview after college!