“She held me to a higher standard . . .”

Ms. Maurine Tunnell


Bob Seney isn’t shy about giving credit to his former high school teacher, Ms. Maurine Tunnell, who had such a profound influence on his education and life. For three years, Ms. Tunnell taught Bob English/Language Arts at Rogersville High School in southwest Missouri. Precocious and a bit puckish, Bob could easily have lost direction in the small, rural school, where there were only 29 students in his 1956 graduating class.

donate-button.gif“I was lucky,” says Bob.  “I had parents who were aware that their middle son was a bit different. They got very involved in my education, in part because they feared I’d get into trouble otherwise. Ms. Tunnell was a friend of my mother’s, so I couldn’t get away with anything. Only a handful of students in my class went on to college. She knew I was college-bound, and she made a big difference in my future. She would return my papers and say,  ‘this may be good enough for everyone else, but it’s not good enough for you.’ She guided me in my reading and helped me with my college entrance papers; she even recommended me for a scholarship at the University of Missouri. My fondest memory is of her reading Shakespeare aloud to the class. It was beautiful and inspiring to hear her speak."

Retired now and living in Mancos, Colorado, Bob went from college into the Army and then to seminary, eventually becoming an Episcopal priest. He served as the headmaster at two Episcopal schools and then as an administrator, where he became actively involved in establishing a Core Program for avanced learners.  “I saw that there was a difference between bright and gifted students, and I realized we weren’t meeting their needs, especially their emotional needs. I felt we had to do something more for them.” 

Ms. Tunnell died in 1992, but Bob has never forgotten her.  “She made ALL the difference in giving me the only challenge I had in high school.”


Bob Seney, a retired Episcopalian priest, now does educational consulting, gives presentations at conferences, and teaches a course at a local community college. He received his Ed.D in Gifted Studies from the University of Houston and is currently Professor Emeritus at the Mississippi University for Women.

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