The Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program is one of the Endowment’s longest standing programs, launched in 1987 to help Indiana public school teachers renew their commitment to teaching. It complements similar renewal programs the Endowment supports for pastors, artists and arts administrators, and human services professionals.

Through the program, the Endowment seeks to help revitalize teachers by funding them to take time away for creative renewal. In the program’s initial year, 75 public school classroom teachers were awarded fellowships of $4,000 each for use during the summer months.

The program has expanded to fund up to 100 fellowships annually, awarding up to $12,000 to each fellowship recipient. Broadened eligibility now includes teachers in private and parochial schools, principals and assistant principals, school counselors, librarians/media specialists and school social workers. The lasting aim of this competitive program continues to be to recognize, re-energize and support Indiana educators. The funding enables them to pursue their dreams and passions, explore new areas of interest, plus expand and develop new and existing talents. Renewal times are opportunities for intentional exploration and reflection designed to result in renewed energy, enthusiasm and creativity in teachers that will extend into their classrooms and schools.

Through a Teacher Creativity fellowship in 2017, Andy Brubaker, a biology teacher at Goshen High School set out with a friend to conquer the Colorado Trail on bike, traveling for 13 days through the wilderness. Such adventures have been shown to build confidence, strengthen problem-solving skills, clear the mind, refocus energy, test endurance, encourage exploration and offer a sense of accomplishment.

“The grant enabled me to turn a trip I’d been dreaming of for a few years into a more expansive experience than I had been planning. The funds from the grant allowed me to think about what I truly wanted to do, instead of what I could afford. It allowed me to purchase camera equipment to produce a video journal of the trip, which enabled me to bring the experiences from my trip to others. I hosted a ‘video premiere’ for a small group in my local community, which generated more interest in bikepacking and the outdoors. The video has had tens of thousands of views on YouTube, reaching people all over the world, and has started online conversations with people around the country who are planning similar trips in the future. I’ve also used the footage in my classes as an opening event for a new project this year that encourages students to design a ‘happiness experience’ of their own – a project where students design a trip or activity to increase their own happiness that is based on scientific happiness research that we review in class. In essence, a mini-Lilly grant.” – Andy Brubaker