By Anna Skinner
Four Fishers teachers have each received a $12,000 Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity grant to to pursue one of their dreams while bringing back innovative ideas to the classroom. Each year, Lilly Endowment awards the grant to 100 educators in grades K-12 in Indiana.
Banitt is an honors biology and forensic science teacher at Fishers High School. Banitt will bike across the nation for 45 days, leaving in late May. “It’s always been a dream of mine to do something like that,” Banitt said. “I really like the outdoors, my family goes hiking in national parks as much as we can, and my husband and I bike to school every day. The purpose of the Lilly grant is a teacher creativity renewal type of thing. They want us to do something that has always been a passion of ours to renew our creativity. What I found in thinking about this project is that so many different disciplines can be worked into the actual bike ride – the physics of the biking, the art of the photography and scenery I’m going to see, journaling, math. So many different subjects fit into it. I hope to bring back my experience to the whole school.”
Butz teaches medieval Europe to sixth graders at Sand Creek Elementary. She will travel through London, Paris and Germany and visit various castles and concentration camps. In one of Butz’s lessons, she teaches students about castles. The students then create castles on the game Minecraft. She also teaches about the Holocaust. Butz will leave in July for 20 days. She’s applied for the grant once prior to receiving it this year. “It’s the chance of a lifetime,” she said. “I would never have gotten to do this without this grant.”
Greiwe teaches fourth grade at Cumberland Road Elementary and wrote his grant using engineering design process. Greiwe will bicycle through Germany to explore his ancestral roots as visit a German elementary school that teaches science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “I will make contact with a teacher and have my class Skype with their class and share some ideas of what they’re doing in their class that we might not be doing with our students,” Greiwe said. He also hopes to create a bike-to-school day at the elementary school.
Johnson teaches fifth grade social studies at Fall Creek Intermediate School. She will travel the American West and will photograph and document her experience. “For the longest time, I wanted to be a photojournalist,” she said. “I’ve traveled most of the U.S. but never the western region. I can pull from books and online sources, but I don’t have a personal knowledge to be able to explain (to my students). This will help bring more knowledge into that area of teaching.”
For more, visit lillyendowment.org.