Appletons retire from Indian Creek after decades of service

The Indian Creek community recently tied one on to celebrate two long-time teachers’ retirement.

With 73 years of teaching experience between them, caring for others is at the heart of who Mark and Becky Appleton are. It comes naturally to them. They don’t feel like they are going above and beyond for their students, but their impact is evident from the students who greet them in the hallways to their parents who they once taught years ago.

When you ask the Appleton’s why they teach and go out of their way to help their community, they’ll tell you that it’s “just what you do.”

Mark Appleton has been teaching middle school math for 43 years. Becky Appleton has taught various grades in elementary school, including third and fourth grade, for 30 years. The two have been married their entire careers and retired together just weeks ago.

During the last week of school, students wore ties in honor of Mark Appleton’s unique tie collection. He has over 200 ties, a new one for every day of the school year and then some. He gave away nearly 175 ties to his students and colleagues over the last few weeks of school. Students made him a tie-shaped booklet full of memories and best wishes letters to him.

Becky Appleton’s career began in nursing. In the last semester of college at the University of Indianapolis, she took public health nursing, which is essentially teaching, she said. She wanted the same schedule as her husband and enjoyed the class so much that she eventually switched directions 10 years later, she said.

Mark Appleton holds up a tie booklet that his students made for his retirement. He had over 200 ties and gave away about 175 of them to his students when he retired. Jayden Kennett | Daily Journal

Teaching in Trafalgar has allowed them to get to know the community on a personal level, they said. The Appletons go to every sporting event they can, graduations and even weddings. Between the decades are hundreds of kids whose lives have changed thanks to the Appletons.

Most of their favorite memories come from doing things for other people, Mark Appleton said. The best part for them is seeing someone who had trouble in school become successful and raising their children to be successful as well, Becky Appleton said.

Becky Appleton recalled one third-grade student from her classroom who her husband happened to mentor through a program. One night they took him to a UIndy football game. It was a small thing, but the student and his family remember the trip to this day.

At Becky Appleton’s retirement party, her colleagues recalled dozens of moments, some through laughter and some through tears, and some that she doesn’t even remember. It felt like a family meeting, she said.

One colleague told her a story about her twins who always ask about her. She never had them in class, but she always said “hi” to them in the hallway and asked how they were. One day tn third grade, they played around with Becky Appleton and they still remember the day because it meant so much to them, she said.

“They’re seniors in high school,” Becky Appleton said. “And he remembers that from the third grade. But to us, it’s nothing. I mean, it’s just what you do.”

“It’s what you do,” Mark Appleton agreed.

When something happens, the Appleton’s are quick to mobilize and support their students in whatever ways they can. Neither of them grew up in Trafalgar and they didn’t know much about the community before teaching positions opened up at Indian Creek. At first, it wasn’t home. They were nearly two hours away from family in a small community they didn’t know anything about. But, the Appletons believe God led them to Trafalgar.

“This is where God wanted me to be,” Mark Appleton said.

When somebody needs something, the whole community helps, they said.

The Appleton’s recalled numerous stories of helping students over the years, including the last week of school when a student was mistakenly in a different room.

“The entire staff went on a scavenger hunt looking for this kid, custodians, everybody went looking for this kid,” Mark Appleton said. “And that’s just what you do, you put down whatever you’re doing and go help.”

People are already asking the Appleton’s to come back to Indian Creek to help grade papers, keep score at games and more.

Of course, they said yes.