Culver Academies science instructor David C. Lawrence is one of 100 Indiana K-12 instructors to receive a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship.
The Endowment’s fellowship program, now in its 29th year, gives Indiana teachers, principals, guidance counselors, and school media specialists the financial support and encouragement to renew their commitment to the profession of education.
Each educator will receive a $12,000 grant to support a project of personally and professionally fulfilling activities. Lawrence’s project is “Painting a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” He will learn to sketch and paint with acrylics; travel to sketch and paint Star Wars movie locations in California and England; and attend the Star Wars Celebration Art Show in London later this summer.
Lawrence said his inspiration for the project came from an article he read that detailed the locations of various scenes in the Star Wars series. The author had pinpointed the background for shots in the movies. “He had GPS coordinates, so if you stood in that spot you would be facing the exact scene.”
While he could have taken photos or video of the locations, Lawrence decided to paint the scenes to “add some creative kick to it.” He has never painted before and only done some basic sketching in the past. He is planning to audit art instructor Jack Williams painting class next semester to prepare.
“He has been a huge help,” Lawrence said of Williams. Williams also provided a list of supplies Lawrence will need this summer. He will be using acrylics because the paint dries faster and will be working on-site. For the scenes in Death Valley, though, Lawrence said he will shoot photos and video of the scenes, then return to his hotel room to work because of the heat.
Lawrence is a big Star Wars fan. He has seen the new J.J. Abrams film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, four times. He also has a older Star Wars posters in his classroom.
This is Lawrence’s second Lilly fellowship. In 2008, he received one that allowed him to travel to national parks throughout the Southwest to study geologic formations. He used an Indiana Jones theme and created a video in which he described the different formations while he was searching for treasure.
The 100 Lilly fellows represent a wide variety of Indiana schools – traditional public, charter, and private, both religiously affiliated and independent. Instructors may apply for a fellowship once every six years.
“These extraordinary educators have outlined inspiring and creative projects that promise to help them integrate personal renewal and professional development,” Sara B. Cobb, the Endowment’s vice president for education, said.
“During nearly three decades of work with the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program, we at the Endowment have learned how important it is for educators to have the time and space to explore, travel, and create,” she added. “We regularly hear that these experiences help Indiana’s teachers, principals, school counselors and media specialists renew their commitment to their profession. As a result, their students benefit.”
More than 2,800 educators have received grants since the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program began in 1987. The Endowment selected the 2016 fellows from a competitive pool of 535 applicants.