Fishers teacher visits Europe on Lilly grant

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Heather Butz visited Europe due to a teacher grant she received. (Submitted photo)

Heather Butz, a sixth-grade humanities teacher at Sand Creek Intermediate School, spent part of her summer in Europe thanks to a Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant. The grant’s purpose is to provide teacher renewal and boost teacher creativity.

“It’s a $12,000 grant. People do all different kinds of things with it,” Butz said. “I teach Medieval Europe, and I love teaching kids about castles. So my proposal was to go to Germany, France and England to tour castles and take first-person video.”

She was in Europe from July 5 through July 24.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Being a teacher on a teacher’s salary taking long trips to Europe was not something in my foreseeable future, so I really wanted to make the trip count,” she said.

In London, she visited Kensington Palace, Warwick Castle, Lee’s Castle and medieval museums. She then went to France and visited Chateau Versailles and the beaches of Normandy.

“Going to Normandy was incredible. Omaha Beach is now just a beach town with people laying out. That was shocking to me,” she said.

The next leg of her trip was spent in Germany visiting Neuschwanstein Castle and Dachau Concentration Camp.

“As you go through the tour of the concentration camp, they literally take you through the steps of the people who would have gone there. The absolute horror of what they went through … I think that was even more life-changing than I ever anticipated,” she said.

Butz utilized technology to bring back images of the castles for her students.

“I did 360-degree pictures so that I can use virtual reality goggles with the kids so they can feel like they’re there. I’ve only been able to teach them in the past from books that I’ve read or videos that I’ve watched,” she said.

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