Importance of teacher retreats

Fahad Aloufi, Staff Writer

Breaks are recurrent through every student’s day. For me, I simply grab my phone or get a bite to eat in between sessions of doing homework or studying.

They give me enough fuel to finish the task at hand, and – needless to say – taking breaks every now and then is essential to being productive and energized throughout the day.

The same thing goes for teachers. They give so much of their time and effort towards helping students succeed and excel at school, and they too deserve a break from their ever so demanding and growing tasks.

However, due to the extraordinary nature of the tasks teachers are assigned with, so must their breaks be extraordinary as well. To that end, the Lilly Endowment Inc. hands 100 grants of up to $12,000 to teachers and other education professionals in Indiana each year to spend on meaningful renewal projects.

Teachers, counselors, and administrators get to explore their passions and embark on adventures that may give them enough energy to impact the classroom positively. However, these trips aren’t meant to be “vacations” per se.

The Lilly Endowment specifically mentions that their “creativity grants… are not intended to be vacations, rather they are meant to be intentional experiences that restore educators’ enthusiasm for their profession and stimulate their creativity, which should in turn enhance the educational experiences of their students.”

For the year 2020, four teachers from Bloomington South were awarded grants.

Juliana R. Crespo

“A Journey to Explore Identity and Creative Writing” — rediscover Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for Portuguese language immersion and gather with other writers at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference to apply new experiences and knowledge to written work

Amanda M. Figolah

“Reawakening Wanderlust: Seeking Solace in the Wild” — develop self-reliance in nature through a solo backpacking trip through the sacred landscapes of California

Catharine A. Rademacher

 “Walk to Emmaus: A Semi-Centennial’s Biblical Journey for Inner Peace” — journey through the Holy Land to study and meditate on biblical scripture with visits to neighboring areas, including Petra and the Dead Sea

Kathryn R. Reeves

“Beyond the Blog” — focus on writing and blogging about kindness and confidence in women while immersed in Spanish culture and language

To get the grants, teacher proposals need to show some kind of “personal stretch.” In other words, proposals need to convey that the applicant has spent considerable time thinking of an experience that will leave a lasting impact on the person

Juliana Crespo, who received the the Lilly grant, hopes to “reconnect with her roots” as well as “write about her experiences in Brazil” while visiting Rio de Janeiro and attending the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

Congratulations to South’s 2020 Creativity Grant recipients! The classroom and school is a very rigid structure subject to routines which tend to drain us of creativity and imagination, and taking the time to experience exciting new things can counteract those effects.