Celebrating Franklin College


Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations   -George Bernard Shaw


Dear Fellow Educators, 

Would you recommend a career in education for your own child or relative? Some teachers have told me they specifically discouraged a son or daughter from entering the teaching profession. However, I have recently heard other voices from educators who know what it means to have a “teacher’s heart.” They encourage their own children, as well as other people’s children, to pursue their passion for making a difference in our world through education. At Franklin College, the devotion to helping students prepare for teaching is evident. In fact, I was invited to Franklin for the purpose of uplifting students who have chosen to be teachers. 

I did not have to look far to discover a mother and her daughter who were both clearly meant to be teachers. The proud mother is a professor at Franklin College, and she is currently holding a splendid torch. When her daughter saw that light burn brightly, she, too wanted to be a teacher. Thankfully, at Franklin College, the professors are clearly committed to helping students achieve their goals. They are the torches who are lighting the way for the next generation of teachers. 

One of my goals this year is to visit as many undergraduate teaching programs as possible to share the positivity of the teaching profession. As I explained that goal at the end of my speech, I was impressed with a young education major who gave me homework. She said she would like to have statistics for the number of people I have encouraged to celebrate teaching. Even though it took me a  while to compile the numbers, I did my homework, and I’m excited to share the statistics with you. 

I have delivered speeches to 1,118 teachers and teacher educators.

I have spoken with 505 undergraduate education majors.

I have talked with 1,771 students and visited over 107 classrooms.

I have delivered community outreach speeches to 275 people.

I hope I can use all of these experiences to light a fire in the field of education. I want to inspire talented men and women to pursue a degree in education. Yet I also hope current educators will rekindle their own flame by reflecting on the one thing that brought them to education in the first place: a desire to make a difference. 


A mother at Franklin College who is a “splendid torch” that passed a love of teaching

to her daughter who will be one of our “next generation” of educators.




Celebrating the 2013 IN Teacher of the Year

On Friday, I had the opportunity to go to Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital with Suzanne Whitton, the newly named Indiana Teacher of the Year. Suzanne’s decision to spend the day of her Teacher of the Year Banquet doing community service exemplifies the characteristics that make her a wonderful representative for Hoosier educators. Suzanne is a visual arts teacher at Delaware Trail Elementary School in Brownsburg. She shows students how to use their artistic talents to touch the lives of others. For example, she has worked with her students to knit hats to give to cancer patients and preemies at local hospitals. She never allows cost to be an obstacle because she knows how to enlist the help of businesses and community organizations to achieve her goals. 

While at the hospital, Suzanne worked diligently to sort and distribute art supplies for children who need distractions from their daily medical challenges. I was honored to have the opportunity to spend the day with an educator who not only encourages students to give of themselves, but also models that message in her own life. Indiana’s educators are being well-represented by a teacher who uses her artistic talents to teach children how to make a difference in their communities. Thank you, Suzanne, for representing our profession. Today, we celebrate you!

Celebrating Central Elementary School

“I have often…in the course of the session…looked at the sun behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length, I have the happiness to know it is a rising, and not a setting, sun.” –Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was referring to George Washington’s chair when he uttered these words at the close of the Constitutional Convention. Clearly, he was pleased with our nation’s new beginning. While celebrating the teachers at Central Elementary School in Lebanon, I was drawn to a mosaic in the hallway. The delightful image could have easily been either a rising or setting sun. After spending the day with incredibly dedicated teachers in this phenomenal school, I decided I would think of it as a rising sun. The administration and staff at Central Elementary are investing time and energy in the dawning days of their students’ lives because they know that the elementary years will lay the foundation for future success.

 While I was traveling between classrooms, I had the opportunity to talk with a mom who was volunteering. She expressed her gratitude for the teachers at Central Elementary, and I thanked her for giving the teachers the gift of her time. After talking with this mother, I understood why many people would want their child’s future to begin here.

 Ultimately, when educators enter the sunset of their lives, they can take pleasure in knowing the impact they had on so many tomorrows. Thank you, Central Elementary, for making each child’s dawning days the beginning of a lifetime full of opportunity.