Noblesville Teachers Awarded Lilly Endowment Grants
Writer / Kara Reibel
Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship asks these questions of its applicants:
Where do your dreams and passions lie?
What adventures have you postponed?
Is there a country or culture you’ve always longed to explore?
Do you yearn for a spiritual journey?
What experience will help you broaden your students’ horizons?
What inspires awe and wonder in you?
Clearly valuing enrichment experiences for educators to explore and subsequently share with their students, Lilly Endowment Inc. established the Teacher Creativity Fellowship to help expand the minds and hearts of those affected by educators pursuing their passions.
“During nearly three decades of work with the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program, we at the Endowment have learned how important it is for educators to have the time and space to explore, travel and create,” said Sara B. Cobb, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “We regularly hear that these experiences help Indiana’s teachers, principals, school counselors and media specialists renew their commitment to their profession.
As a result, their students benefit.”
In the 29th year of providing the Teacher Creativity Fellowship, Lilly Endowment has awarded two Noblesville teachers, Joe Akers and Emily Crapnell, the opportunity to cultivate their dreams.
Akers, a media teacher at Noblesville High School, and Crapnell, a science teacher at Noblesville West Middle School, were selected from more than 500 applicants across the state and were each awarded $12,000 to pursue an educational passion project. Only 100 of these grants are awarded each year.
Akers’ project will focus on the creation of an informational children’s book about sea turtles and the launch of a Little Free Library, both in memory of his daughter Grace who passed away last year.
“This is a way to keep my daughter’s story alive. Grace was my hero, the bravest, sweetest person I’ve ever known,” shares Akers. “I want the world to know and remember her and see the ways her kindness and love made the world a better place.”
For Crapnell, this grant enables her to switch roles from teacher to scientist. She will perform field study work, bringing captured data back to the classroom for an expanded educational experience for her students. Crapnell will use her fellowship funding to analyze the locational environmental health of U.S. volcanoes, working alongside other scientists in Wyoming, Washington and Hawaii, and ultimately publishing her research findings on a scientific website.
“I teach sections on general geology and am so excited to have the opportunity to gather information in the wild and utilize this data in my classroom,” shares Crapnell. Students will analyze the pH in the soil, guessing which volcanic region the sample was extracted. In addition, Crapnell will be recording the soundscapes from the local ecology around the volcanoes. As a vocalist and songwriter, she is thrilled with the creative prospects.
“The experience is planned to be data driven,” says Crapnell. “But I am flexible with changes and challenges to my proposal for this grant. I feel this experience will be more rewarding than what I have planned for.”
Crapnell will blog her experience this summer and will publish her findings to publiclab.org, a site for citizen scientists.