Anne (left) and Renee (right) Buckwalter, are fraternal twins from Wellman, Iowa. Both received Indiana Outstanding Future Educator Awards. (Photo contributed)

Buckwalter twins, seniors, to receive Indiana Outstanding Future Educator Awards

By Kristin Troyer ’19

A version of this story originally appeared in The Record, Goshen College’s student newspaper.

Being a Buckwalter means loving coffee, being passionate about teaching and driving a car from Buckwalter Motors. Now, Renee and Anne Buckwalter, twin seniors from Wellman, Iowa, have another thing in common: Renee and Anne will both be honored by the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education with the Outstanding Future Educator Award on April 12.

Renee, the younger twin by 31 minutes, is an elementary education major who student taught kindergarten at West Goshen Elementary School. This semester she is spending around 18 hours a week there in a special education classroom.

Anne, a music education major, traveled to Concord Junior High in Elkhart, where she student taught middle school music classes.

Anne Buckwalter performs on piano during the 2018 Concerto-Aria concert at Goshen College. (Mia Graber-Miller)

Both of them graduated from Iowa Mennonite School in 2015 where they were affectionately called “Buck” and “Walter” by their peers. They both played soccer, participated in band and choir, and took piano lessons. Renee “Walter” ran on the cross country team in the fall. Anne “Buck” participated in musicals and plays throughout the year.

As they grew up, Renee was always more easy going; Anne was more stubborn and opinionated. Even so, their mother, Paula Buckwalter, thinks they were good for each other.

“Anne helped Renee come out of her shell a little bit,” Paula said. “Renee kept Anne from being too wild.”

This kind and accommodating nature that Renee and Anne both possess shows up in the academic and professional careers.

“Both are so kind, genuine and passionate about their subject areas,” said Brooke Lemmon, assistant professor of education. “They are both incredible students, and I could always count on their work submissions being stellar.”

Renee Buckwalter studies with friends in her student apartment

As for differences between the two in the classroom, Lemmon noted Anne’s natural leadership abilities and how Renee never leaves anything for the last minute.

Both look forward to graduating this April and getting teaching jobs. They both think there is a good possibility they will continue on to graduate school in the future.

Staying in Goshen after graduation is a possibility for them both. Renee has interest in heading back to Iowa, something Anne does not see herself doing.

Anne has “big goals and dreams to make change.” Renee is more content doing her part on the small-scale.

They both visited Hesston and Goshen during high school. Anne was attracted to Goshen’s music program. Renee thought that the atmosphere at Hesston “just felt right.” So the sisters spent their first two years of college apart.

Renee and Anne agree that, initially, it was strange to not see each other every day, but also think it did them well.

“Growing up, I always had Renee,” Anne said. “But at Goshen, I had to try harder to make friends because she wasn’t there by default.”

Renee, on the other hand, liked the separation.

“It felt good to have a space and friends that were mine,” she said. “After sharing literally everything for our whole lives, I think we needed to experience life without each other.”

But after two years apart, coming to Goshen wasn’t a difficult decision for Renee to make.

“I was looking for a good education program,” Renee said. “It just ended up being convenient that I already had a connection to [Goshen’s] program through Anne.”

Anne said, “I was really excited that I would have someone who knew me nearby again.” She was hopeful that Renee would have a smooth transition. “I was a little nervous about having to be her resource and connection to campus.”

As two different people with similar backgrounds but two different life paths, they do not intend to stick by each other’s side forever.

“We’ve been apart before,” said Renee. “It just makes being together even more special.”