Monday, June 30, 2014

The Whole Story

     As I look at the pile of fabrics I have amassed, dreading actually cutting any of them - they are to precious-it occurs to me that an explanation of sorts is in order. 
     Every year the Lilly Endowment gives 100 Indiana teachers a grant of $10,000 to pursue whatever they wish.   The Teacher Creativity Fellowship is designed to give teachers a big burst of inspiration and motivation that will carry over into the classroom.  Teachers who apply must design a 6 week summer plan and activities for the following school year.   There are no limits on what a teacher proposes.   Lots of teachers travel with their grants - Australia, the rain forest, Italy, Machu Pichu - all over the place.   Some hire trainers and do triathlons; others build robots or write music.   Your heart's fondest wish.   So you write a proposal following very specific guidelines in only two typed pages and mail them off in late October.   And then you wait.

     Last school year, I had a bit of time in my schedule.   This almost never happens so I wanted to put this time to good use.  When the Teacher Creativity Fellowship application period was announced, I decided to use my time to write the best proposal I could...lots of research, planning, writing and revising.   The first task was to decide what I wanted to do.  I got one of these in 2004, and 2 is your lifetime limit.  If I actually got funded a second time, I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory.  What is the most extravagant, outrageous thing I would ever want to do?

     Have an entirely handmade wardrobe!

     I have a fantasy of opening my closet doors and having only a fraction of what I currently own, but every single piece being both beautiful and useful.   Like an art gallery just for me.

     How will this impact me as a teacher and my students?
*Self-reliance - we have the skills and vision to make what we need
*Creativity as a  lifestyle, not as just something you do in art class
*Consumerism - do we really need to buy an entirely new wardrobe every 3 months or is that just a trick used by the fashion industry
*Cheap, disposable clothes are NOT a good thing!  It's not a win that you only paid 14.99 for that at Charlotte Russe.   How much do you think the person who made that was paid?
*Making stuff is more fun than buying stuff!

     I really didn't tell too many people I had even applied for this.   It seemed to far-fetched.   Who would fund this crazy project?  I kind of put it out of my mind.   Until February 14, when it popped into my head that winners would be notified "around the middle of February".  I was walking out of the kiln room and I thought - wow...I should find out soon.

     The next day I went to a track meet in Indianapolis.   I got home around 9pm and stopped to check the mail.   There was a big, fat envelope crammed in there.   I could barely make out the return address...The Lilly Endowment!   I knew at that moment I had been chosen as a grant recipient.   I think if you are not chosen, you don't get a fat envelope.  You get like a postcard that says sorry and better luck next year.