Retired teacher elected to Hall of Fame

SIDNEY — A retired teacher — who “was the Music Department” at Lehman Catholic High School, will be joining three other inductees in the ninth annual Lehman Hall of Fame induction, sponsored by the Lehman Catholic High School Alumni Association

The four individuals – Sister Dorothy William Englert, Elaine Schweller-Snyder, Esther Bensman, and Bill Custenborder — will be honored at Lehman Hall of Fame festivities on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015.

Since beginning this tradition, the Hall of Fame committee has sought to honor not only alumni but outstanding faculty and supporters of Lehman Catholic.

One inductee to the 2015 Hall of Fame is Elaine Schweller-Snyder, who served as chair of the Lehman Music Department from 1978-2014. With her retirement in the spring of 2014, she completed 40 years of teaching in Catholic schools, including 36 years at Lehman.

A graduate of Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Schweller-Snyder continued her education at the University of Dayton where she received a B.S. in Music Education. Her first position was at Bishop Fenwick High School in Middletown. After four years there, she spent a year pursuing a Masters in Music Education degree at Bowling Green State University. In the summer of 1978, she was hired to teach instrumental music at Lehman and at Holy Angels and Piqua Catholic Elementary Schools.

Throughout her tenure at Lehman Catholic, Schweller-Snyder brought many innovations to the Music Department including participation in music competitions sponsored by the Ohio Music Education Association. She placed an emphasis on solo and small ensemble playing to increase the musicianship of the individual players and also promoted student leadership. As many of her grads will attest, her quarterly band journal assignments which included materials to read and opportunities to reflect may not have been popular but did ensure that they learned more about the music than just the notes on the page.

Along with Gail Brandewie, Lehman vocal music and journalism teacher who retired in 1998, Schweller-Snyder began the tradition of musical theater at the school. Together they also established the annual Lehman Limelight touring variety show and the Lehman Limelighters Show Choir.

According to Brandewie, who herself was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011, Schweller-Snyder is a “woman of many talents.”

“I first met Elaine when she joined me on the staff at Lehman as band director in the fall of 1978. I was teaching vocal music at the time, and she very quickly approached me with the idea that we should do a musical. Little did I know what that would involve in the next 20 years, which turned out to be some of the happiest years of my life,” said Brandewie.

In her nomination letter, Brandewie mentioned Schweller-Snyder’s organizational skills and her talent in both music and writing. “In the thousands of hours that Elaine and I spent together I could see what a dedicated teacher she was, see her dedication to our Catholic faith, and see her complete dedication to Lehman and to her students.”

Soon after Brandewie retired, Schweller-Snyder began working with the Lehman Development Office to promote the school by writing press releases in addition to her teaching load with the Music Department. Her love of writing prompted her to add the Journalism class to her already busy schedule in the 2007-08 school year. Students in that class produce the school newspaper (The Cavalier Crier) and the Cavalcade yearbook.

“The number of extra after-school hours of service that she has donated to the school through administrative meetings and activities, curriculum planning, music activities, athletic events, and promotional activities is staggering,” said Brandewie.

That sentiment was echoed by another nominator, Darla Cabe. Cabe has served as president of the Lehman Music Boosters and is the parent of six Lehman graduates who were all active in music activities. “For 36 years, Elaine WAS the Music Department at Lehman. … She literally taught generations of students, as she has had children of former students in her classroom. …Having no children of her own, the students of Lehman and Holy Angels and Piqua Catholic have been HER children.”

Cabe, who has been the head of the costume committee for the musicals for more than 10 years, mentioned that Schweller-Snyder “was the pioneer of the highly reputable Lehman musicals …This great tradition of 37 musicals and counting has brought culture and a wealth of experiences to many students, their families, and the community at large.”

Although retired from her full time position, Schweller-Snyder is still connected to Lehman. This past year, she helped out with the musical and wrote press releases, in addition to teaching band classes at St. Patrick School in Troy which is one of Lehman’s partner elementaries. Schweller-Snyder lives in Sidney with her husband Chip Snyder.

The Hall of Fame evening will begin with Mass at 5:15 p.m. in the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel on campus. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6 p.m. with dinner to follow at 6:30 p.m. in the Cianciolo Family Gymnasium.

For tickets to the Hall of Fame dinner, contact Shelley Vanskiver at 937-726-2510 or [email protected] or Jenny Weber at Lehman at 937-498-1161 or 937-773-8747.


Staff report