This month, we’re breaking an existing “rule” that says we should feature one celebrated personality from each of our two high schools. We introduce two gentlemen who never attended NAHS or FCHS…two men who never taught at either high school. And yet both have been legendary heroes to thousands of NAFC students. They were two of the most beloved elementary school principals, revered by children and families alike.
They are Glenn Barnett (1925-1994), principal 1957-1993 at Lafayette (now Floyds Knobs) Elementary and Ted Mossler (1925-1992), principal 1956-1984 at Green Valley Elementary (GVS). If you knew one of them (or both) we think you’ll enjoy revisiting what made them special. If you didn’t, we trust that you’ll welcome the chance to meet them.
Special thank you to those who contributed to the stories of these two legends. Preparing any posthumous profile is possible only with the generous help of many friends, family, colleagues and former students. I am greatly indebted to both of my co-authors. Moreover, the gathering of info relied heavily on the fabulous cooperation of Glenda Barnett Hott, her brother John and sister Wanda, their former neighbor Ken Hart (FCHS ’76) and Terri Nicholson Ragland, (FCHS ’81 and Lafayette faculty, 1991-2004). Each was meticulously thoughtful in sharing information about Glenn and Ted. In a similar way, I want to thank Jeff and Trudy Mossler, Dave Barksdale (NAHS ’71) and Mike Gilbert (GVS faculty, 1964-1999) for the privilege of being re-introduced to Ted Mossler.
Rex Bickers, FCHS ’70
Glenn Barnett grew up near English, Indiana in Crawford County. Serving in the Army Air Corps 1944-1946, he was able to go to Bloomington, thanks to the GI Bill. At age 21, he married Bonnie Marshall (from Crawford County also) and graduated from IU in 1948. He taught for one year in Paoli, then moved to New Albany (“in town”, initially). That set up the path that would lead him to Lafayette Elementary in 1956. The Barnetts moved to Buffalo Trails in 1960.
Lafayette’s physical construction had been a bit piecemeal, and Glenn’s first year was too… half the day teaching sixth grade and the other half fulfilling the duties of principal. By 1957, the school was complete, and he began his 36-year voyage as fulltime principal, shaping the soul of Lafayette. He began with three cornerstones: caring, humor and respect. Kids learned respect from seeing how he treated others. Mr. Fritz, the custodian, was his colleague in the same professional way that teachers were. He mixed in a passion for the arts, layering in band and orchestra teachers… and for everyone, choral music with Mrs. Beatty. Lunch was immersed in classical music from his own LPs. He was a father figure to Boy Scouts who found an after-school home at Lafayette. With his coaching partners Phil Hart and Bill Fry, he made wrestling and basketball the outlets for sports achievement, respected as much as proficiency at the blackboard.
The Barnetts’ legacy includes four children, all FC grads (Glenda ’69, the late Mike Sappenfield ’71, John ’72 and Wanda ’76), four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. For a few dozen lucky kids, he was “the dad of Buffalo Trails”. Both co-authors of this profile had that good fortune.
His kind and gentle hands extended for miles across the Knobs and beyond. With a small group of local leaders, he helped to oversee the creation of Floyds Knobs Community Club, and he was its first president. He impacted parents, kids, grandparents and grandkids… some he never actually met. Many still live near Scottsville Road; others went on to ivory towers and everywhere in between. They held on to what they got at Lafayette: educators, doctors, lawyers, musicians. Some are builders or farmers; some work on cars or tractors or something high tech. He would value them all and simply ask: “Do you live your life with caring, humor and respect?”
Rex Bickers, FCHS ’70,
and guest co-contributor, Jodi Stiller Meier, FCHS ‘82
The melody of Ted Mossler’s life has both similar and dissimilar notes to Glenn Barnett’s. Both graduated high school in 1943, but Ted’s high school principal (Corydon) was also his dad. Like Glenn, he married a local girl; Gertrude (“Trudy’) Brown was from Harrison County also. Ted earned his degree in business at IU in 1948 with many college credits from naval officer training. He first worked in commerce and soon pursued the courses needed to teach, by returning to IU. He went back right away to earn his master’s degree in 1952. For both men, 1956 was the year they arrived… then stayed… at one school forever. Ted started day one with the job title of Green Valley Elementary principal, full-time.
From the earliest pre-school days of their son Jeff, the Mosslers lived next door to the family of Euron and Doris Snow. Trudy would sometimes babysit for their three sons Glen, Tom and David. Glen Snow (NAHS ’67 and the first athletic trainer at FCHS) became sort of an “older brother” friend to Jeff. Ted and Trudy found lifelong ties at Silver Street United Methodist Church and Ted began teaching Sunday School there early in his career at Green Valley. He retained his love of doing that to the end of his life.
Certain unique traits characterized the Ted Mossler era. One priority was to keep every child advancing their reading ability. Nearly every kid took part in the summer reading program. There were actual summer pep rallies to urge kids to read more each week. GVS was the perennial NAFC “champion” in an unofficial grade school “competition”. The late Katherine Adams, who taught fifth grade from 1958-1990, often said “Ted not only knows every child here, he knows their reading level too.”
Barbara Hogan Byrne (NAHS ’70) was a student there from 1958-64 and returned as an adult to teach from 1980-2010. She recalled making the observation that “as all principals do, Ted made daily walk-arounds in every classroom”. Teachers know… it’s one way that principals perform faculty evaluations. But as a little girl in class, she remembers it differently. “He would choose a student, bend down and say tell me what you’re doing today.” It was always a “make-you-feel-special” kind of day, and you couldn’t wait to tell your parents about it. She smiled and reminisced… “no child had any idea that he was paying any attention to the teacher!”
After retiring, Ted never was one to take it easy. He served in the leadership of Lions’ Club New Albany from the 50s to the 90s. He also faithfully performed the job of “ticket taker” at Bulldog basketball games for decades. Trudy, now a widow of 31 years, frequently sees Jeff and his wife Calise Peden Mossler NAHS ’70 when they are back in southern Indiana… and tries to keep track of the three grandchildren and the eight (soon to be nine) great-grandchildren.
and guest co-contributor, Barbara Hogan Byrne, NAHS ‘70
Read the complete September 2023 Legacy Ledger.