Alumni receive Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowships

Tue, 2013-04-02 14:17 -- univcomm
Kyle Hopkins, Joe Rushton, and Josh Southard
April 2, 2013

Three Anderson University alumni have been named recipients of Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowships. Kyle Hopkins BA '08, Joe Rushton BA '82, and Josh Southard MME '09 are among the 100 K-12 Indiana teachers, principals, guidance counselors, and school librarians to be honored with fellowships in 2013.

"On behalf of the School of Education at Anderson University, I congratulate our three alums for being selected for the Lilly Creativity Grant," said Dr. Jan Fulkerson, dean of the School of Education. "We are so proud of them and excited about their projects. They will have much to share with their students, schools, and communities!"

[Photo, from left: Kyle Hopkins, Joe Rushton, and Josh Southard.]

Kyle Hopkins teaches English and speech at Covenant Christian High School in Indianapolis. Hopkins will spend six weeks in Ireland this summer, immersing himself in the city of Dublin and experiencing the history of the places found in the writings of James Joyce.

Hopkins acknowledges the importance of the hard work he put in to his classes at AU — but that doesn't tell the whole story of AU's impact on his life. "Juggling work and school, troubleshooting writing issues at the Kissinger Learning Center, conversing with various faculty members outside of class, living in a dorm, strolling through the Valley, and figuring out my faith were all the rest of the story," he said.

Hopkins credits faculty in the Department of English for insightful moments — "revelations made by wise folks who serve God and not themselves. They showed me that the point of AU isn’t actually AU. It is to find truth."

Joe Rushton is principal of Tipton High School. Through the Lilly fellowship, Rushton plans to travel to historic sites and witness reenactments. Rushton hopes to learn more about clothing, gear, utensils, and weaponry that were used during the French and Indian War period.

"The professors, teaching staff and leadership at Anderson helped me understand and acknowledge that teaching is a noble, honorable and important profession," said Rushton. "Having been in education as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, and now principal at the secondary level for 29 years, I can honestly say that what I learned and experienced at Anderson has guided me at every stage of my professional career. I can’t imagine a place that would have been better for me."

Josh Southard is a music specialist at Smoky Row Elementary School in Carmel. Southard plans to use his fellowship to hike Indiana state parks, creating a photo database of trees in Indiana. He also plans to study with a master woodworker and build a grandfather clock from African mahogany and ebony.

"I owe so much to the music faculty at AU," Southard said. "Dr. Jeff Wright and Professor Joani Brandon have been my friends and mentors throughout my teaching career. These two individuals have fostered, in my opinion, one of the best elementary music education programs in the country. Thanks to their hard work in bringing Orff Schulwerk training programs to Anderson, they have really made me the teacher that I am today."

The $10,000 fellowships provide recipients an opportunity for renewal, said Sara Cobb, vice president for education at the Lilly Endowment. "Teachers get to become learners again as they explore their own curiosities and dreams, spend time in other parts of the world, pursue personal passions, and just 'get away.' We regularly hear that these experiences have helped many Indiana educators regain their enthusiasm for their profession — and that's a plus for them and their students," said Cobb.

Including the 2013 class, 2,542 Indiana educators have received grants since the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program began in 1987. Recipients of the fellowships are selected from a competitive pool of applicants; about 450 applied for the awards in 2013.

"We continue to thank Lilly for giving educators the opportunity to fulfill a dream and renew their creative spirit," said Fulkerson. "This grant is highly competitive and much sought after by teachers and administrators each year. To have three of our alums selected for such an honor is exciting."

Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.