Backpacking trek, Tour de France among upcoming journeys for Carmel teachers funded by Lilly Endowment 


Carmel High School math teacher Linda Jones was ecstatic when she learned she had been awarded a Teacher Creativity Grant from Lilly Endowment.


“This grant will give me the opportunity to pursue my dream of going on a long backpacking trek this summer,” Jones said. “I am not only looking forward to the challenges I will face while out in the wilderness, but also sharing my adventure and everything I learn along the way with my students when I return to school in August.”

Jones is one of five Carmel Clay Schools teachers to receive the Lilly Teacher Creativity Grant. Each receives $12,000 to pursue a project of personally and professionally fulfilling activities. The other teachers are Phil Lamie, Towne Meadow Elementary art; Katharine Ristow, Cherry Tree Elementary art; and  Sean McVey and Andrew Simon, Clay Middle School science. All five teachers expressed their gratitude to the Lilly Endowment for making the trips possible.


“Visiting Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian museums will fulfill a lifelong dream,” Lamie said. “I have always wanted to see the nation’s most treasured artworks, monuments, natural history specimens and scientific displays. My research, travel and creative activities will culminate in personal renewal and new artwork and lesson plans to improve teacher/student interactions and achievement.”

Lamie, who plans to take two trips to Washington, D.C., will bring the knowledge he gains back to the classroom, developing new lesson plans and collaborative student art projects.


Ristow will use her grant to travel to jewelry-centered cities in Scotland and England to better understand the people, history and craftsmanship behind 19th-century Victorian-era jewelry.

“My background is in art history, so I’m a natural researcher, and when I thought about my proposal idea, it all came together rather quickly,” Ristow said. “I worked very hard on the written proposal, but the ideas just seemed to pour out of me. I really want to be more knowledgeable about the antique items I collect and sell, so it made sense to go to the source. I am a lifelong lover of history and art. Plus, I want to get better at photographing close-ups of jewelry and start thinking about fresh ways of incorporating my interests into my art teaching and sharing these new insights with my students.”


McVey and Simon will use their grant to travel to France this summer and dive into the physics of bicycle racing. They will meet accomplished engineers of Aerodine Composites, Zipp Weaponry and Trek Bicycle and attend the final week of the 2019 Tour de France.

“We were blown away,” McVey said. “We have submitted this idea for the last seven years and we were discouraged after not being awarded the grant the last few years. We grew concerned that this project may never happen, and it’s incredible to think that now we can take advantage of the resources and contacts that have agreed to help us in this project.’


Upon their return, the teachers plan to conduct a school-wide symposium and project-based learning experience called, “Physics on Wheels.”


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