When others see something in you that you haven’t seen yet

On November 11, 2013, after being selected by senior faculty in the College of Education, I was installed as the Guyer Chair in Education.  The honor was such a shock to me and I struggled with preparing my remarks. This recognition and the installation ceremony remains one of the proudest moments of my life. This is a three-year recognition and in the fall of 2016 the honor was passed to Dr. Kelli Esteves. I was so honored to be asked to give remarks at Kelli’s installation ceremony which I found way easier to make than at my own! I decided to post my remarks so that others might have a chance to read about Dr. Esteve’s impact on me (and the CoE). However, in doing so, I revisited remarks I made at my own installation and found them to still be true.

So, 3 1/2 years later…

I’d like to thank Mr. Hockett for his generosity and Dr. Guyer who inspired this gift. I feel so humbled to be a part of this legacy.

Many of you know that I’ve struggled with my remarks for this evening, so I don’t want anyone to think I’m stalling, but I’d like to start by thanking some of the special people in room this evening…

First, I’d like to thank my two boys Eli and Evan who are giving up a pizza party and wearing dress shoes to be here this evening. I tell my students all the time that I’m preparing them to be the kinds of teachers I want my boys to have. When I started this journey, the boys were just babies, and now they are in the 4th and 5th grade. I appreciate their patience with all my late nights and working weekends. They are super smart and I hope that they get a Butler grad as a teacher as they move into middle school in the next year or two and that they’ll see what mom’s work is really about.

Speaking of late nights and weekends, I often get teased about the amount of time I spend at the office. I stay late and come in on weekends because I love my work and because there’s never a shortage of work to be done and I can’t stand to leave a task half finished. My mom is my role model for working hard and finishing the job, and I hope that I reflect her work ethic everyday. I won’t say anything else about her though because I know she will die of embarrassment at this very moment if people are looking her direction.

My wonderful in-laws, Sue and Drew Furuness are here this evening as well. Both are career educators and have shown me what it means to be dedicated to public education. Even in retirement, they continue to teach and to council whether it’s at the Pioneer School House or the state park with the boys or the nearest high school guidance office that promises they’re just looking for a little consulting but always ask for him to stay a little longer.  I appreciate all you guys do.

Mrs. Karen Yeager, was my English teacher at Mooresville High School.  Twenty years ago Mrs. Yeager accompanied me to my high school’s Top 20 Seniors Banquet as my most influential teacher. When I asked Mrs. Yeager to come to this reception, she said she’d come if I promised not to tell the Prom story. I promised I wouldn’t, but I will tell you it is a good one! I recently was reminded that Mrs. Yeager is a Butler Master’s graduate. Not only was Dr. Guyer one of her teachers, but she also taught with his daughter. I am thankful that Mrs. Karen Yeager was the kind of teacher who cared about and knew her students in class and out of class. Mrs. Yeager was wicked smart and wicked funny. So I hope I reflect the joy that comes from having a good time with your students.

Tina Campbell and John Campbell and their kids Ellie and Brody are here this evening. Both are graduates of Butler’s Master’s program and both are amazing teachers.  John is in Washington Township and Tina and I taught in Wayne Township together.  She is the reason I came to Butler in the first place. She was the best teacher in the building and she was finishing her Master’s here at Butler. Tina taught me about controlled chaos in a middle school classroom!

Also here this evening is my friend and mentor, Dr. Judy Lysaker. While Tina was the reason I came to Butler, Judy was the reason I wanted to stay at Butler forever. I met Judy as a Master’s student working on my thesis project.  I knew that Butler University had a distinctive philosophy but I wondered if it was really evident in actual classroom practice. After observing Judy’s class for a semester and interviewing her students, it became clear to me it was absolutely possible to live your philosophy in the classroom. One of our alums, Bridgit Goss teases that when she’s stuck on planning something for class, she’ll ask herself, “What Would Furuness Do”.  Well, Judy is that person for me.

Dr. Cindy Wilson, I can honestly say that without Dr. Wilson there is no way I would be here. I mean I literally have her job. When I finished my master’s at Butler and went down to IU to get my doctorate, I made it clear that this was the place I wanted to work. It is absolutely surreal to hold the exact faculty position your advisor and mentor held.  For my first several years here, I was introduced as the “new” Dr. Wilson—It’s been a very tough act to follow, but I am so very thankful that she had faith in me.

Finally, I liked to thank my wonderful husband Bryan for being here. Aside from being super cute, incredibly smart, and pretty funny, he’s a wonderful dad, he’s my best friend and my biggest fan. I’m able to do the work I do because he believed in me first and made it possible for us to chase the next big thing on the horizon.

Thanks to you all for coming…

For weeks now, I’ve been trying to prepare remarks for this evening.  And for weeks, I’ve been left speechless by this honor.

And, anyone who has ever been in class with me, or on a committee with me knows how rarely I’m at a loss for words. I always have something to say. Yet, I am at a loss for words. As much as I’ve thought about this night and what I might say to express my gratitude, everything seems inadequate. Nothing I’ve thought to say to this point seems to truly represent how completely this individual honor is dependent upon my collaborative work with other, truly amazing people.

When I look around this room at my mentors, my friends, my students, and my amazing colleagues, I see compassion, integrity, and dedication personified. I see servant leaders and people deeply committed to the well-being of the whole student. I see change agents with a vision for what schools could be like for kids. And I see that vision being advanced everyday in nearly every interaction I have. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it. And so to be in the company of colleagues such as these and to be the one standing before you receiving this honor leaves me humbled.

Last year in my 4th year review, I talked about how it’s really hard to predict what our work will be or will look like in the future tense. Seeing into the future is difficult for sure. But predicting the future and having a vision for where one is heading are different things. I never could have predicted that I’d be standing here this evening. I just did not see that coming.  But my senior colleagues must have more vision than I do because they see something in me that I have not yet seen in myself.

I also wrote in my 4th year review about how faculty members can only truly succeed when we see how our work contributes to the larger goals and mission of our teaching and learning community. We can only be successful if we refuse isolation and refuse to see our work as ours alone. The thing I love most about working in our college is that it not only allows me, but encourages me to live my philosophy and beliefs about teaching and learning.  The teaching, the scholarship, the service I have the privilege to do everyday aligns with my vision of what education could and should be. And that is-collaborative, joyful, curious, ethical, always looking toward what is possible, and always remembering that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. Being named the Guyer Chair feels like an honor that is bigger than my individual work and this recognition is only possible because of the community of people I work with.

And so, this is how I’ve come to make sense of being named the Guyer Chair—the way I can account for what it is the senior faculty have seen in me, is that I must be doing a good job of reflecting all those qualities I desperately hope to emulate in the community of people here sharing this evening with me. That does make me very proud.

So, thank you all for letting me be a part of this community and for making my work joyful.  Thank you for seeing this in me.

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