Award given to Merrimack teacher killed in car wreck

MERRIMACK – In his 16 years as principal of Merrimack High School, Kenneth Johnson has handed out many No Bell Awards to deserving teachers – but never has one been so bittersweet.

This year, students selected Nick Seymour, 29, a social studies teacher who was killed in a car accident last fall.

“I do not know that I have ever been so moved by a decision made by our kids,” Johnson said in a letter to the anonymous award donors.

The No Bell award recognizes local educators who go above and beyond in their work, but do not ring their own bell, so to speak. The award comes with a $6,000 check and a silver bell trophy that, as the award name suggests, does not make a sound.

Seymour, previously a teacher at ConVal High School, had only been at Merrimack for a month at the time of his death, but, Johnson said at the time, “He (already) felt part of our family.”

In the letter to the donors, Johnson recalled a meeting he had with Seymour after an observation he conducted, noting that he connected well with his students.

During the meeting, Seymour expressed his newfound love for the school.

“I love these kids. I love this place. I cannot believe how lucky I am,” Johnson remembers him saying.

“He could not have been happier.”

The students too, remember Seymour fondly. According to Johnson, he left a wonderful impression with his students and those in his homeroom.

So much so that the McGaw Chapter of the National Honor Society selected him as the No Bell candidate.

“We miss him deeply,” they wrote.

The award was presented posthumously and given to his wife and high school sweetheart, Leah Stone Seymour.

“We’re honored he made a big enough impact” in the short time he was there, she said over the phone.

Her husband however, would not have felt he deserved the award after only a month.

“Nick was big on earning things, and he wouldn’t have felt like he earned it,” she said.

But still, as his friend and ConVal mentor, Greg Leonard, had told her, he would have gotten the award on his own eventually. That’s just the kind of teacher he was.

“It was only a matter of time” he told her.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or