Grants help teachers gain new experiences

By the end of this summer, five teachers will travel overseas or learn a new craft that they can share with their students.

One teacher will travel around Indiana and to Hawaii learning more about photography, and two other teachers will walk part of a historical 500-mile trail in Spain. Each is already thinking about ways they can use their experiences to help their students learn.

Five local teachers have been awarded $12,000 grants through the Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship program. The grants were awarded to 100 teachers statewide.

The goal of the program is to recognize teachers and support their continued learning so they can bring their experiences into the classroom. Since the program began in 1987, more than 2,800 educators have received it.

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All the local teachers said they plan to use their experiences to help their students in the classroom.

Life-long love

Since she was a child, Wendy Coles has been fascinated with paper.When she was a child, the Greenwood resident, who now teaches second grade at Winding Ridge Elementary School in Lawrence Township in Indianapolis, loved loading paper into her typewriter and playing with reams of paper her father brought home from work.

Now she will learn the Japanese art of papermaking.

Coles will go through a folk art school near Green Bay, Wisconsin, and then travel to Japan, where she will learn ancient papermaking techniques.

Japanese artists will teach her to strip bark, boil the pieces and make the pulp that will eventually become paper.

“It is learning it all from the beginning,” she said.

But she also wants to take in Japanese culture so she can host a Japanese festival for her students when she gets back.

“I just want to make it a fun event for the students,” she said. “My class is already excited.”

Blazing a trail

When a Clark-Pleasant teacher heads to Spain, she will not just be walking a 500-mile trail; she will learn the stories and history that surround it.

Brenda Huewe, an eighth grade English and special education teacher at Clark-Pleasant Middle School, will be walking the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trail in Spain, where some of the country’s most iconic historical events happened.

But Huewe also wants to learn the stories of the people who live and work along the trail. She will interview owners, workers and volunteers of cafes and pilgrim hostels that dot the trail.

“I want to talk to them and hear their stories,” she said.

Huewe attempted the trail before but had to stop do to unforeseen circumstances. This time, she plans to finish.

A new culture For a Greenwood Christian Academy teacher, walking part of the 500-mile trail will be part of a trip to help him improve his Spanish.

Nathan Barrow will be walking the Camino de Santiago and taking Spanish classes in Salamanca, Spain.

Barrow teaches multiple subjects at Greenwood Christian Academy, but he wants to improve his Spanish.

He researched language schools in Spain and found the Don Quijote School, which is rumored to be one of the best in the country, he said.

Barrow will spend three weeks training at the school.

“I wanted to learn more Spanish and learn Spanish culture,” he said. “I really want to be more fluent in the culture and language.”

In addition to attending a language school, he will be hiking the last 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago.

Buzzy time

Beekeeping is already a part of one teacher’s life, but she wants to learn more.

Christa Rinehold, e-learning coach at Whiteland Community High School, and her family already keep bee hives on their property. But she wants to study other beekeepers and learn their secrets.

She will volunteer at honey bee farms in California, Michigan and Indiana, including an almond and bee farm in California and a bee and honey pollination farm in Michigan.

Rinehold and her family have four hives at their rural Franklin home now.

She wants to expand what they have by learning how to set up an environment in her yard that is conducive to bees and keeping them.

“It is one of earth’s most amazing things,” Rinehold said.

Say cheese

A Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson special education teacher wants to learn more about photography so she can help her students prepare for field trips.

Karyn Todor, the speech and language pathologist for Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools, plans to photograph field trip sites and tropical sites with her grant money.

Planning a field trip for her special education students would be easier with detailed photos of where they are going, she said.

She plans to buy a camera with part of her grant money, and take photos of central Indiana field trip destinations, such as Apple Works and Conner Prairie. Her photographs will be made into a field trip preparation book teachers can use to help plan trips for students.

She also will travel to a few islands of Hawaii to learn photography there.

And she hopes she can use the photos in lessons. For example, she plans on taking photos of a plantation in Hawaii and having students compare and contrast them with photo of Apple Works in Trafalgar.

Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.