Who is Gary Wittmann?
He was born and raised in Evansville, Indiana the son of Gilbert and Dorothy Wittmann. He is an Eagle Scout. His brother to Christopher was a great influence in his life. He also has a younger sister, Cindy. He went to Indiana State University of Evansville (USI) and Indiana State University in Terre Haute where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, with a minor in Special Education in the area of Mentally Handicapped. He also earned a Reading endorsement. He obtained his Master at ISU, which included the addition of a Learning Disabilities license. He has been a teacher of learning disabilities, emotionally handicapped, and mentally handicapped.
He came to Southeast Dubois in 1975. His first year teaching was at Birdseye's Elementary School, which he taught Intermediate Special Education students. The following year, he was transferred to Forest Park High School, which had no Special Education program. He organized the program and was the first special education teacher at Forest Park High School. He has taught learning disabilities, emotionally handicapped, and mentally handicapped since this time.
During the years 1976 to 1979, he was Assistant Wrestling Coach at Forest Park and Coached with the AAU Wrestling program. He and Bill Brown started the first wrestling program for the school.
In 1979, he worked with the Hoosier Forest Service as an Assistant Camp Director with the Youth Conservation Corp. This was their first year in which they incorporated special education students into their work sites. He was the first special education teacher to hold this type of job and developed the program at the state level in the forestry service.
He was a member of the first crisis team organized after one of his students was killed in an auto accident.
President of the local chapter of the Council of Exceptional Children for one year, and he was a member for a number of years.
He also was a speech instructor at Vincennes University Jasper Center for ten years.
A Dale Carnegie Instructor for ten years, he was Instructor of the Year two years in a row with the local organization. He was also awarded Instructor with a bonus for most referrals collected in one year.
The first special education teacher to work with the G.E.D. program at Branchville prison, he worked for five years with special needs prisoners who were working toward their G.E.D
He won a Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant to research storytelling in his family and folktales in 1993.
A professional storyteller since 1993, he was President of a local storytelling group known as River Town Storyteller out of Evansville, IN. He has conducted numerous workshops and presentations in the tri-state area including Jasper Library where he worked since 1993 every summer and Halloween for the last 13 years. People always ask if Gary Wittmann is going to tell stories. He uses his funny poems and songs in his performances. He is developing a website for his storytelling and poetry called www.garywittmann.com which should be up running by May 2007.
He was given the distinguish merit award in Boy Scouting in 2005 for 27 years of service as a Cub master, assistant Scout leader, and Order of the Arrow advisor. He also received his Wood Badge Award that year with one of his project being integration special education students into local troops.
He has three children Jonathan, Ashlee, and Zachary.
He is a constant reader of books, especially children books, ever looking for a story to tell. His love of reading has made him a better reading specialist for students who struggle with their own reading skills.
He is 2007 Lincoln Heritage District Chairman of Adult Leadership Training for Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts and Venture Crew Leaders.
Currently working on a Storytelling and Poetry Book for Special Needs, a children book and poetry book, he practices daily in order to play the guitar and banjo better than his little brother, Christopher, who is a fine musician. He is a tough act to follow. I write the words and he put the music to them.
He does teacher's workshop that motivate and make you laugh about your job.
He is an advocate for literacy for children.
2007 State of Indiana Learning Disabilities Teacher of the Year for the Learning Disabilities Association. He received the award on November 9, 2007.
He retired with 33 years in Special Education in Southeast Dubois School Corporation in May 2008.
He saved a choking woman live at a food establishment by using the Heimlich maneuver. This was Feb. 5, 2009.
He received on Feb. 7, 2009 the Silver Beaver Award for over 50 years of joining and voluntary work to Boy Scout of America in Buffalo Trace Council in Evansville, IN. This is the top award given to an adult in the Council.
In 2010 The American Red Cross gave him an Award for saving the life of a Woman. In 2011 the National Boy Scout of America gave Gary the fourth highest hero award known as the National Certificate of Merit.
He has publish his first children poetry book with poems and drawing by Gary Wittmann. The book is called Up the Tree House.