Tag : education

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Homecoming 2017: Phil Talbert

By: Dezaray Barr

Phil Talbert

Phil Talbert and his wife

Each year, Indiana Wesleyan University awards a Distinguished College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award. This award is granted to an alumnus or alumna of the College who has exhibited excellence in serving his or her profession, community, church, or alma mater in the spirit of Jesus Christ. This year’s recipient is Phil Talbert.

Talbert is the CEO of Talbert Educational Consulting, LLC. From 1987 to current, he has been a member of the Greenfield Church of the Nazarene. He has been a Church Board Secretary for 27 years, a member of the New Church Building Committee, a Middle School/High School Sunday School Teacher, a Bible School Teacher/Activities Coordinator, an Adult Sunday School Teacher for five years, a Song Leader/Assistant Song Leader for seven years, a Usher and Weekly Counter for fifteen years, and a Community Day Coordinator/Church Car Show Coordinator.

Talbert has also been a Board Member of the Warren Arts and Education Foundation since 2005 and a Founding Member of the Warren Township Kiwanis Club since 2004.

He has received the following awards: Warren Township Service Award 1982, NFL Teacher of the Month 1996, Voyager Expanded Learning Founder’s Award 2009, Indiana Department of Education “Spotlight on Learning” Award in 2009, Indiana Department of Education Distinguished Principal Award in 2011, Warren Township Lasting Impact Award in 2015, City-County Council Proclamation of the City of Indianapolis “Key to the City” in 2016, and Hawthorne School Playground dedicated in honor of Phil Talbert in 2016.

“I went to the altar at sixteen years of age and asked the Lord what He wanted me to do with my life,” Talbert said. “I had planned to be an architect, which I had been preparing for in high school. While at the altar the Lord said to me. ‘Phil, do you want to build buildings or build people?’ I said, ‘What do you want me to do Lord?’ The Lord said. ‘I want you to build people.’ I said that if that is what He wanted me to do, I was willing to do it. This was part of God’s plan for my life. I would not be a Christian today, if I hadn’t attended Marion College (now IWU).”

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Phil and his wife with the restored Corvette

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Phil and the Corvette in his graduation yearbook

When Talbert was a student, he ordered a brand new custom Corvette, right off the assembly line, to arrive on graduation day. This is the same Corvette that was restored and will be featured in the parade during homecoming.

 

Written by Dezaray Barr, PR Specialist for the Alumni Office. Dezaray is a junior Strategic Communication and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College. At IWU, Dezaray runs both the JWHC Blog and her own blog. Visit Dez’s website at www.dezaraybarr.weebly.com.

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Erika Todd: Trusting God’s Will

By: Emily Neideck

Erika Todd began her Indiana Wesleyan journey like most students do – with a college visit. During her college visit, Todd and her parents had the opportunity to attend a chapel service. She said, “The chapel service really peaked my interest in Indiana Wesleyan. I was just really impressed with the spiritual atmosphere.” Todd entered into the IWU Education Department the following year.

Todd’s years at IWU were filled with relationship. She thrived in the Education Department, and even took a work/study position at the Jackson Library. She stated, “I remember having meaningful conversations with my co-workers there. They were great spiritual mentors.” Todd especially remembers her professors and said that each and every one of her professors took a personal interest in each of their students’ lives, helping them learn, grow and easily transition into life after college.

Todd said, “I feel like Indiana Wesleyan has one of the best Education programs around. I felt very prepared for what I was going to do, and I was prepared for more than just the career aspect.” Todd taught for eight years at Westview Elementary in Grant County before moving back to her hometown to teach at Prairie Heights Elementary for two years. She believes that IWU taught her how to bring a spiritual aspect to her classroom. She stated, “Since I am in the public school system, I feel like I am able to indirectly bring a spiritual aspect. I am able to view the children in my classroom as children of Christ, which helps me to see through the behavior issues that I might encounter.”

Erika Todd[3274]Todd’s spiritual journey does not end in the classroom, though. At the end of her tenth year of teaching, in 2016, Todd discovered she would need a double lung transplant. Born at approximately 30 weeks, Todd’s lungs were not fully developed. She was placed on a ventilator to survive. However, the pressure from the ventilator created long-term scar tissue, which led to gradual decline in lung function.

Todd’s lungs were functioning at 25% when she had a double lung transplant. She said, “I always have understood that God has plan for my life. When I found out that I was going to need a transplant, I really wasn’t afraid. I felt fairly confident that things would be OK. I prayed for God’s will to be done, and I had support from many family members and friends.” Todd said she found comfort in Scripture and music that recognized God as Sovereign. She also found peace in IWU’s recognition and emphasis on God’s plan for her life.

Todd plans to transition back into teaching in January of 2018, beginning with substitute teaching, and then return to the classroom full-time in August of 2018. She stated, “I’m looking forward to returning, but in the meantime, I’m doing different online courses, some through IWU, to keep my knowledge sharp. The Education program at IWU has given me the drive to continue learning.” Todd recommends IWU to anyone interested in pursuing the Education field.

Todd remains an inspiration to those who learn her story and continues to be a reminder of the strength it takes to trust God’s will.

 

Written by Emily Neideck, writer for the Alumni Center and a junior Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.

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Ali Wren – Influencing the Classroom and Eating World

Ali WrenBy: Emily Lehner

 

Alison Wren graduated from Indiana Wesleyan in 2007 with degrees in both Exceptional Needs Education and Elementary Education. However, there is truly no limit to her talents. In the midst of reaching the hearts and minds of her young students, Wren grasps the attention of a completely different group of individuals as well.

In her spare time, Wren keeps a website and blog (www.aliwren.com) documenting her experiences with food allergies and life in general. She shares of her journey in discovering her allergies of gluten and dairy. It took her over a two year span with many trials and errors to discover these allergies.” At first, I would let myself cheat every now and then, thinking maybe a bite of this ice cream or this and that. But then, I would feel terrible for days after. So, eventually I just decided that to feel my best, I have to cut these things out completely,” said Wren.

Currently, Wren works alongside restaurants in the Indianapolis area to make their menus more applicable to those with food allergies. She covers topics on her blog that allow the reader to strive towards whole-hearted living. One of the majors topics Wren discusses is comparison. “When I was in college, I felt as if I was constantly comparing myself to others. After college, I realized that I could only do the best that I was able to. That has been life-changing for me,” she said. Wren has written an e-book available on Amazon called #InstaEnvy.

Wren believes that one of the best parts about her time at IWU was the community. She stated, “When my husband and I graduated, we had to be very intentional to find community. We realized that was because at IWU, our community was so close-knit.”

During her time at IWU, Wren believes she made some authentic friends. She said, “The professors invested in my life and taught me to do things with excellence. We were encouraged to accept the things God made to be our strengths.” She has taken the lessons she learned during her time at IWU and applied them to her current career.

Along with having a presence online, Wren reaches students’ hearts in the classroom as well. “Special Education gave me the ability to see all students. I could focus in on the students’ needs and gifts,” she stated. Now, however, Wren teaches a class of first graders for the first time since graduating. She believes God truly hand-picked her class for her this year. “Teaching is difficult, but so rewarding. And, the joy that comes from it is so worth it,” Wren said.

Wren acts as a good steward of what she has been given by making the most of her gifts and talents. She teaches at Forest Dale Elementary in Carmel, Indiana. You can find more about her here: www.aliwren.com.

 

Written by Emily Lehner, a writer for the Alumni Center and a sophomore Writing major at IWU. She is active on the cross country and track teams. She is passionate about using her writing skills to share the good news of Christ with others and writes often on her personal blog at www.emilylehner.wordpress.com.

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Celebrating the Small Victories – Jill Carder’s Story

By: Katherine Arch

 

The Education Division at Indiana Wesleyan University is one of the largest academic divisions on campus. To honor the students and graduates of this department, we will be telling the stories of several alumni and how they are using their God-given gifts to teach others. Special thanks goes to the alumni that participated in interviews, the faculty of the Education Division, and to the Division Chair, Dr. Jim Elsberry.

IMG_0211Jill Carder (’15, Elementary Education) knows the value of celebrating the little things in life. She celebrates small victories and encourages academic growth at many different levels. She helps little hands learn to hold a pencil, and write their name. She realizes the value of seeing small victories as significant. She discovers potential.

This is her calling; she is a teacher.

From early on, Carder realized she wanted to teach. Her experiences working with children through tutoring, babysitting and volunteering at church ministries allowed her to discover her passion for working with children. When she began to study at Indiana Wesleyan University in the fall of 2011, her parents encouraged her to explore teaching as a potential area of focus.

“Teaching was always an area of interest for me, when I entered one of Dr. Elsberry’s classes I realized that I had made the right decision,” she said.

Carder works as a Kindergarten teacher at Allen Elementary school. Her time at Indiana Wesleyan University equipped her with the professional tools that she needed to become an effective teacher. Carder mentioned that these teachers gave her valuable tools, but more importantly they taught her to think for herself and understand her personal values. One IWU professor that specifically encouraged her to teach was Dr. McCracken.

“Dr. McCraken helped me understand the importance of knowing what I thought and why I believed what I did,” Carder explained. Reflecting on her time at IWU, she mentioned that she loved being part of the School of Teacher Education because of the support and experience of faculty and professors.

“They have all been in the classroom before,” said Carder, “So they all understood the struggles and frustrations that I dealt with.” Throughout her time at IWU, Jill grew in her understanding of education. She stated that her practicum and observation experiences helped her gain confidence and momentum as a teacher. She greatly enjoyed her experiences getting into the classroom, which only further confirmed her calling to be a teacher. She met many children, each with different struggles and heartaches. Carder said, “In each placement I was pushed and stretched beyond my abilities; with each new experience I became a better teacher.”

As Jill launched toward graduation, her thoughts turned toward future employment. Preparing well in advance, she submitted her résumé to dozens of schools. For each interview, she did everything right; she ironed her clothes, rehearsed several interview questions and showed up ten minutes early to each interview. Despite how well the principles liked her and how well the interviews went, Carder faced a series of rejections.

Having just graduated, Carder began to question her calling to teach. It was already mid-July and she had no job prospects. Just as she was starting to become discouraged, the principal of Allen Elementary school phoned and asked her to interview to be the new kindergarten teacher.

“I was amazed,” Carder recalls, “I hadn’t even applied for the job.” Asked to come back to Marion for the interview, Carder got in her car and started the five-hour drive from her parents’ home in Ohio. She walked into the school punctual, positive, and prepared. The interview went well; Carder, however, refused to get excited prematurely.

Two days later the principal called, offering Carder the job. She had nowhere to live, little money and few connections. Her boss wanted her to start in less than a month. She accepted.

“A week and a half later, I found myself in Indiana living in my parent’s camper while waiting for my new apartment to be ready,” Carder recalls of this rapid relocation. “I spent most days at school, trying desperately to prepare my classroom for seventeen energetic five-year-olds. Through God’s perfect plan and my parent’s unfailing generosity, I would be moved into my new apartment just three days before students would walk into my classroom.”

Carder admits she would not have picked kindergarten as her first class to teach, but she loves it.

“It is definitely the place for me,” she explained. Although her students come from situations that are less than ideal, Carder mentioned that she loves helping her students unleash their potential.

Coming to her class, only three of Carder’s students had any preschool experience. Few could write their name or knew the alphabet. Reflecting on the past few months, Miss Carder is thrilled to see the individual progress of each student.

“They went from not knowing how to hold a pencil to reading,” Carder gushed. “It is just the coolest thing to see their growth.” Carder explained that she has learned to celebrate the little victories with her students. Articulating her vision of teaching, Carder stated, “Each day we improve, we make better choices, and we become smarter. I celebrate with every student for each small victory. Over time, the small victories become huge.”

 

Written by Katherine Arch, Story Teller for Alumni Relations. Katherine Arch is a Senior English major at Indiana Wesleyan, and a member of the Track and Cross Country teams. She is passionate about sharing people’s stories and celebrating their unique divine potential in written form. Katherine also operates a website called “Join the Ranch” at jointheranch.weebly.com. It is about pursuing God’s purpose for her life and vocation.

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From IWU to the DR – Ellen Kujawski’s Story

By: Mia Anderson

 

The Education Division at Indiana Wesleyan University is one of the largest academic divisions on campus. To honor the students and graduates of this department, we will be telling the stories of several alumni and how they are using their God-given gifts to teach others. Special thanks goes to the alumni that participated in interviews, the faculty of the Education Division, and to the Division Chair, Dr. Jim Elsberry.

When Ellen Kujawski (’14, Elementary Education major, TESOL and Music minors) was eight years old, she felt led by God to serve in the mission field–with no idea where that would take her. Now, Kujawski is serving as an elementary teacher in the Dominican Republic (DR) with her missionary partner, Jessica Moulding – living out her call to missions. Kujawski has always been drawn to teaching, especially for elementary students.

Kinder students at Doulos dressed up for Expedition Night

Ms. Kujawski and several Kindergarten students dressed up for “Expedition Night”

In high school, Kujawski fostered her love for missions by going on several mission trips –including two trips to the DR. She loved visiting the rural, sugarcane villages and participating in projects that could be sustained. She never thought that the Lord would call her to serve in the DR after graduation. Kujawski commented, “Teaching in the DR wasn’t even on my radar until TeachBeyond approached me!”.

TeachBeyond is a Christian, international organization that provides education to children and adults to benefit their futures and communities. Even though it had been four years since Kujawski’s last Spanish class, she followed God’s leading and went to the DR with TeachBeyond. Once in the DR, she said she was, “placed in a completely immersive Spanish environment,” where she had to learn quickly how to speak and understand Spanish. Dominican “Spanish is one of the most difficult dialects of Spanish to learn because the language is spoken extremely quickly,” she said. But Kujawski has learned much in the past two years that has equipped her to teach English to Dominican Spanish speakers.

Kujawski was placed with her work colleague, Jessica Moulding, in San Francisco, DR. This city is quite large, with a population of 250,000 and recent growth in commerce in the area. While there is still poverty in the city, San Francisco is quite different from the sugarcane villages usually associated with the DR.

Kujawski and Moulding were sent to San Francisco Christian School to help open and run the school as an English-immersion elementary school, beginning with Pre-K and Kindergarten. A local pastor founded SFCS and Kujawski, Moulding and a missionary family were brought in to teach and aid the growth of the school. The school opened for the school year just one-and-a-half weeks after Kujawski and Moulding arrived in the DR. Kujawski realized right away that she was not only doing the Lord’s work, but also work that she was passionate about.

Whole School Picture - SFCS 2014-15

Say Cheese! Ms. Kujawski & Ms. Moulding with the entire SFCS student body.

However, Kujawski and Moulding were not only teachers at SFCS, but they also shouldered the jobs of recruiting and admitting students, qualifying students for scholarships, maintaining the school’s finances, cleaning the building, and more. Because of the unsustainable foundation and departure of the school’s founding pastor, they quickly realized that SFCS’s current structure would not work.Kujawski was faced was a difficult choice, she said, “[Jessica and I] were left with a choice–leave and forget everything that had happened the last year or if God was calling us to something much bigger than ourselves.”

Kujawski went on to say, “We both felt like our work here wasn’t done and for the rest of that summer we fought to keep the school alive as much as we could.” They tried to get donations and fundraise in the U.S., to acquire more teachers, and even to become a sister school to a larger school.

Teaching a SFCS student to write his name

Ms. Kujawski teaches a student to write his name

One of the larger schools they approached was Doulos Discovery School in Jarabacoa, a city near San Francisco. Doulos did not have the resources to accept SFCS as a sister school, but instead Kujawski said, “Doulos offered us a crazy proposition to become experts in running and planting a school in the DR by moving to Jarabacoa. We would live and learn from their school for a year before returning to San Francisco, DR.”

Although at first the move to Dolous and temporarily closing SFCS’s door for a year felt like a failure to Kujawski, she soon learned that this was a blessing. She receives Spanish classes twice a week, grows daily by teaching her own kindergarten class, and has had the opportunity to learn from a school that has been operating for 13 years doing what she wants to do at SFCS. Already Kujawski and Moulding are preparing for the re-opening of SFCS. They are gaining knowledge about their community and laws that must be in place to open the school, as well as connecting with as many local businesses and influential people as they can.

Kujawski spoke passionately about how she and Moulding have been preparing for the reopening of SFCS: 

“Before, we were supporters of another man’s dream and the vision he had for the school. Once he was gone, we couldn’t just be supporters anymore –we had to become the school planters. It is a completely different role. As a school supporter, all I needed to know was how to be a great kindergarten teacher and support my ESL students. But as a school planter, everything has changed! Now I need to know my community and have relationships with its leaders. I need to be involved in the existing local schools and know what programs they are offering as well as what they wish they were offering. I need to learn how we can best support the dreams and goals of the people of San Francisco. We are not here to just give them an American education; we are here to help the community. And until we know them intimately, our school’s impact can only scratch the surface.”

Favorite pic from SFCS w- my students last year...they were trying to do jumping jacks

Ms. Kujawski and her students attempt jumping jacks 🙂

Kujawski and Moulding plan on reopening SFCS in the Fall of 2017. When they reopen, they plan to offer Pre-K and Kindergarten classes and add an additional grade level each year. Their ultimate goal is to give their students a quality Christian education, and the tool of English, so that they can become leaders in their community.

Books from Dr. McCracken for SFCS

Books donated by Dr. McCracken for SFCS

During her time at IWU, Kujawski’s professors in the education division consistently poured into her academically and spiritually. She said, “[The education department] prepared me so well, not only academically to be a teacher, but spiritually to be [in the Dominican Republic] doing what I’m doing.” Kujawski remembered several faculty members including Dr. Muchun Yin (TESOL) and Dr. Anita Manwell (Elementary Education) who always encouraged her to pursue her dream of combining Elementary Education and TESOL to teach in a non-traditional setting. Kujawski said, “They believed in me, even when I doubted it was possible. And at that point in my life, that was exactly what I needed.” Additionally, Dr. John McCracken (Education) even fundraised to buy books for SFCS. Overall, Kujawski has felt the impact of her time at IWU in her own teaching and through the lasting relationships and care from faculty members.

 

Donate to San Francisco Christian

School: https://give.teachbeyond.org/support/sfcs/

Donate to Ellen’s mission fund: https://give.teachbeyond.org/support/ellenkujawski/

Read Ellen’s blog for updates and more information on her time in the DR!: https://drteacher14.wordpress.com/

SFCS is also in great need of teachers (Pre-K, Kinder, 1st, PE, Art/Music, ESL)! The positions are open for the 2016-17 school year and would give an amazing opportunity to be immersed in a new culture and language. Teachers would also have the opportunity to teach a smaller number of classes before the re-launch of SFCS in Fall of 2017. Contact Ellen at ekujawski@teachbeyond.org for more information!

 

Written by Mia Anderson, Blog and Social Media Manager, Storyteller for the Alumni Office. Mia is a Senior at IWU studying Strategic Communication with her concentration in Public Relations. She is the Vice President of IWU PRSSA and will be getting married and moving to Indianapolis after she graduates in December 2016! Mia loves hearing others’ stories and sharing them with the world. Visit her personal website at www.MiaLAnderson.weebly.com.

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Outstanding Teacher of American History: Matt Barnett

By: Mia Anderson M

The Education Division at Indiana Wesleyan University is one of the largest academic divisions on campus. To honor the students and graduates of this department, we will be telling the stories of several alumni and how they are using their God-given gifts to teach others. Special thanks goes to the alumni that participated in interviews, the faculty of the Education Division, and to the Division Chair, Dr. Jim Elsberry.

History is the grandest story of all time—telling the tale of nations, people, and events and Matt Barnett believes that, “America has a really great story to tell.” The mark of a truly great history teacher is found in the significance that this knowledge brings to each student’s life. Matt Barnett (’07, Social Studies Education) is one of those history teachers that are not easily forgotten by students.

Matt Barnett and his students gather around the hand-carved canoe he made.

Matt Barnett and his students gather around the hand-carved canoe he made.

Since graduating from IWU, Barnett has taught United States history, American government, and psychology at Lewis Cass Junior/Senior High School in Walton, Indiana. History is a true passion of his, which is shown through his hands-on approach to teaching U.S. History. Barnett enjoys teaching his students by immersing them in the time period they are studying—whether it be by building a 14-foot long dugout canoe and painting it by hand with his students, bringing in Native American replica tools for the children to see and use, dressing up in full Civil War uniform or as George Washington, or playing baseball the good ol’ way—with Civil War rules and equipment. He loves to see his students have that, as Barnett put it, “Light bulb moment,” where students open their minds up to the subject matter and how it applies to their lives.

Matt and Jaclyn Barnett with their children Lily, Caleb, and Lincoln.

Jaclyn and Matt Barnett with their children Lily, Caleb, and Lincoln.

Barnett’s teaching style has not gone unnoticed. Not only does he have the opportunity to see the impact of his teaching during parent-teacher conferences where parents are amazed that their children suddenly love U.S. history, but Barnett has just been granted a prestigious award. In the entire state of Indiana, Matt Barnett has been recognized by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) association as the “Outstanding Teacher of American History”—an award given to a teacher in each state. Barnett has the opportunity to be awarded this similar award, but on a national level. He will be recognized for his excellent teaching at the Indiana State DAR meeting in Indianapolis. This award was given to Barnett because of his patriotism and ability to make U.S. history connect with his students.

Barnett came to IWU pre-declared, unsure of what he wanted to study or where God was leading him. He began to realize he had interests in worship leading, music, and history, but he had trouble figuring out how to integrate his passions into a degree. As Barnett looks back on his time at IWU, he says, “God was prepping me the whole time. When you’re in the moment it’s hard to see what He’s doing, but then when you look back it all lined up perfectly.” He soon chose his major of Social Studies Education after having a transformational class with Dr. David Bartley and an enriching student teaching experience. Barnett recalls realizing how he wanted to teach his students by way of example of Dr. Bartley’s story-telling style, “If you can tell a story that grabs someone’s attention and someone’s heart—you have succeeded,” said Barnett.

Upon hearing about Barnett’s accomplishments, Dr. Bartley had this to say:

At Indiana Wesleyan, we hope to do more than inform our students.  We hope to share our passion for life-long learning and to see that passion carried into the next generation.  As we are faithful to that task, we can have confidence that the Lord will continue His work in the lives and careers of our graduates.  We cannot imagine where their life journeys will take them.  On these occasions, though, we get a glimpse of what can happen when our students heed God’s call on their lives.  Receiving this teaching award, Matt has reached a level of teaching excellence as recognized by an organization well known for its love of America’s history. Clearly the Lord has multiplied our investment in Matt’s life, and will now increase Matt’s investment in the lives of his students.  To that measure, we join in the celebration of Matt’s accomplishment.  On behalf of the Social Science Division, congratulations Matt!

Matt Barnett not only teaches, though—he is also a worship pastor at McGrawsville United Methodist Church in Anvoy, IN. Barnett is also the husband of Jaclyn (’07); and father of Caleb (5), Lily (3), and Lincoln (1). Matt Barnett has embraced God’s calling on his life by utilizing all of his passions and knowledge.

 

Written by Mia Anderson, Blog and Social Media Manager/Storyteller for the Alumni Office. Mia is a Senior at IWU studying Strategic Communication with her concentration in Public Relations. She is the Vice President of IWU PRSSA and hopes to work at a PR agency in Indianapolis after graduation in December 2016. Mia loves hearing others’ stories and sharing them with the world. Visit Mia’s personal website at www.MiaLAnderson.weebly.com.