Story of Creative Process

April 10, 2017

The link below will take you to a visual story I created to document what I learned about my creative process during sabbatical.

Story of Creative Process

To the class of 2014

April 2, 2017

Each year, the faculty of the middle-secondary program is given the charge to name one outstanding student who we feel embodies the vision and core values of our college as well as the goals of our middle-secondary program. The task is almost never easy. Really, that task of selecting a single graduate seems impossible. It seems impossible when a compelling case could be and has been made for each one of our graduates. Truly, the entire middle-secondary program class of 2014 is outstanding, and this class is also very special to me for another reason.

Ten years ago, in the spring of 2004, most of this class of 2014 was finishing 6th grade–their first year of middle school. As for me, I was leaving my own middle school classroom to pursue a new teaching path…one that involved the preparation of new teachers.

Back in 2004, I had an 18 month old and a newborn son at home and I was determined to prepare middle and high school teachers to teach in schools as they should be and not simply perpetuate schools as they existed.

Now, ten years later, here we are all together in the spring of 2014 continuing the beautiful cycle of endings and beginnings. Tonight I have the honor to stand before this amazing group of new teachers who will tomorrow end their time as undergraduates and begin their lives as educators. And if I’m very lucky, my son—the one who was 18 months old when I left my middle school classroom—he will be taught by some of you as he begins middle school this August. And if he does have any of you as a teacher, I’m confident that he’ll encounter school as it should be.

During their time in the College of Education, the class of 2014 has witnessed lots of political conversations about how schools should be, how teachers should be prepared, and how those teachers should be held accountable.  And in spite of the tone of those conversations, this class of educators has chosen to boldly speak truth to power. The truth is that our College is sending out the very best and the very brightest there is. In a time when the rhetoric around school and teacher accountability aims to boil performance outcomes down to a simplistic ranking, we are sending out educators who are sophisticated and smart enough to understand the complexities that come with working and caring for our students. They are also wise enough to see that displaying a willingness to try something that’s never been done before or making a difference in the lives of individual students doesn’t fit neatly in a rubric– and that’s okay. They understand that when it comes to teaching and learning there’s never just one right way.

But alas, there can be but one graduate named as the outstanding middle-secondary student:

This year’s honor goes to a person who nearly all of us in the College of Education, be we student or faculty, have counted on for help at one time or another.  This young woman was instrumental in crafting the Information Literacy minor; she helped to co-teach one of our Technology in Education courses, through her honor’s thesis she conducted a teacher research study that will help reshape curriculum in our College of Education, and she’s helped more of her peers with their professional e-portfolios than we could even begin to count. During her 8 semesters at Butler, this student was in four of my classes, one of my husband’s, I advised her amazing thesis project, and I’ve supervised her student teaching experience.  And in all this time, it has been my privilege and my joy to watch this young woman emerge from the shadows and into spotlight. Ladies and gentleman, the 2014 Outstanding Middle-Secondary student is Ms. Michelle Trainor.

For the last three years, Ms. Trainor has been an amazing middle school English teacher. She is also on the cusp of earning her Master’s in Effective Teaching and Leadership from Butler in May of 2017. She was the co-developer of the project-based summer enrichment curriculum implemented the by the Horizon’s middle grades program in the summer of 2016. She was also an invited presenter at the National Horizon’s Conference in Atlanta. Within and beyond her school district, she’s been recognized for her leadership in meaningful technology integration. Further, her work on helping and coaching others in how to align personal philosophy with curriculum as a means to thrive in the classroom has exponential possibility for our profession.