Lowell Milken Center Welcomes Fellows

The Lowell Milken Center (LMC) for Unsung Heroes in Fort Scott, Kansas, an international educational non-profit, has awarded its prestigious 2019 Fellowship on the basis of merit to educators who have distinguished themselves in teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning or who have the potential for this distinction. The Center selects exemplary teachers from across America and Europe, drawn from a variety of disciplines, to collaborate on projects that discover, develop, and communicate the stories of Unsung Heroes in history.

These are the fellows coming to the LMC for June 24-28

Heidi Albin, a 2017 Milken Educator, has been the science teacher and character education coordinator at Complete High School Maize (CHSM) for the past 10 years, where she teaches 9-12th grade Biology, Chemistry, Earth Science, Physical Science, Agriculture, Health, Career Skills, and Character Education. Heidi believes in making content relevant to life and develops unique, multifaceted, engaging lessons through interaction with the outdoors and the community. Heidi has helped CHSM receive recognition, both as a Character.org State and National School of Character and as the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education Green School of the Year. She has also coauthored “186 Days of Character,” a yearlong character education curriculum, has implemented a facility therapy dog program, and established a handicap accessible community garden.

Heidi’s passion for teaching extends beyond her school and has impacted other educators, as well. She is a member of a national 100k-in-10 Project Team which helps to improve teacher preparation. As a member of the Master Angler with Fishing’s Future and Board of Directors for WILD KS, Heidi has written and implemented curriculum for unique science courses in fishing, wilderness survival and camping. Through her presentations at conferences for the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network and the Kansas Association for Teachers of Science, Heidi has shared her resources with hundreds of educators across Kansas.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Heidi’s innovative implementation of both the science and character education curriculums is what we are looking for, as we seek the most inspiring and motivating teachers. Heidi’s experience and expertise will be a great asset to our Fellowship.”

Megan Clark is the Elementary Kansas Teacher of the Year for Region 3 and is part of the 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year Team. For the last fifteen years, she has served as art teacher for nearly six hundred kindergarteners through fifth graders at Clear Creek Elementary. She promotes an art classroom environment of curiosity and creativity. Her lesson design goes a step further than simply “making,” by growing students’ curiosity in analyzing and discovering the role of art in the world around them and developing students’ unique ideas and perspectives. As a strong advocate for building relationships with families and students in her community, she was honored by USD 232 with the Teacher of Excellence Award in 2007 and the Inspiration Award in 2015.

Megan has served in multiple leadership roles at the building and district levels, including the role of chairman for the district elementary art curriculum writing and materials adoption, four years as a member of the building leadership team and eight years as District Coordinating Teacher for Elementary Art. Outside of the classroom she serves organizations that help students and support children with cancer. The uniting theme to Megan’s work in the classroom and beyond is her passion for improving the lives of all children.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Megan’s expertise in using art to connect students to the world around them is a powerful tool in helping them discover their own talents and potential. We look forward to learning more from Megan as a member of our team of Fellows.”

Lora Marie Durr is the 2018 recipient of the National Art Education Association Eastern Region Middle Level Division Art Educator Award, the 2016 Art Educators of NJ Middle Level Art Educator Award, and was recognized as the 2016 Crockett Middle School Teacher of the Year. Lora currently works at Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, NJ, teaching advanced art courses. She is known for her engaging lessons designed to connect students to their community through art. In recent months, Lora’s students have used their art to support The Memory Project with creative portraits for Syrian children and have also researched and created artwork to support local animal shelters. She is a dedicated educator who supports her students in and out of the classroom.

Lora has served in many roles in her state’s professional art educators’ organization and currently holds the position of President Elect of AENJ. She has worked with countless pre-service and novice teachers over the years to contribute to the future of the field of art education. As a presenter for workshops at the state and national level, Lora believes in the importance of lifelong learning for all educators. She is also an active artist, exhibiting her artwork regularly in the region and curating a group exhibition at Artworks Trenton.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “We welcome Lora to the LMC Fellowship as an innovative educator, who shares her artistic ability and creativity by inspiring students to use their talents to connect with others.”

Wesley Hedgpeth lives and breathes the social studies! Throughout his decade-long career in education, he has taught multiple social studies courses from grades 7-12, at all ability levels, in both public and private institutions. He currently teaches World History at The Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia and will add Advanced Placement Comparative Government and Politics next year. In addition to teaching, Wesley co-coordinates his school’s Model United Nations Program, preparing students for multiple conferences each year. He also serves as a member of both his School’s Traditions Committee and Physical Wellness Committee.

Wesley currently serves on the NCSS Board of Directors, the VCSS Executive Board as Past-President, and as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of Patrick Henry School for Arts and Sciences in Richmond, VA. From 2014-2017, Wesley served as President of the Virginia Council for Social Studies (VCSS). During his tenure he co-chaired the 2016 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Local Arrangements Committee for the Washington, D.C. conference and twice co-chaired the Virginia Conference for Social Studies Educators. He regularly lobbies elected officials for social studies education, works on political campaigns supporting social studies advocates, presents at both statewide and national conferences, and consults for various social studies organizations.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Wesley makes history come alive for his students and encourages their real-life involvement in government by the opportunities he provides. His combined passion for social studies and compassion for his students make Wesley an important contributing member of our team of Fellows.”

Thom Knab is the 2018 NAEA National Elementary Art Educator, the NAEA Eastern Region Elementary Art Educator, and the New York State Art Teacher of the Year. While addressing learning standards, Thom always includes components which allow students to make decisions, express themselves, and reach ever upward. He created the BRAG (Brick Room Art Gallery) at his elementary school where over 250 student works can be exhibited, allowing Thom to “brag” about students’ artistic accomplishments. Additionally, he arranged for student-created murals displayed throughout his school and initiated a 2014 “Roadrunner Art Walk on the community’s Main Street, with the artwork of 80 students displayed in business windows. When asked what he does, Thom shares, “I teach children…I just try to reach them through art.”

Mr. Knab believes in service to his profession and passionately advocates for the power and importance of the visual arts. He is the current president of the National Art Education Association (NAEA), the past president of the New York State Art Teachers Association (NYSATA), and has assisted with writing district visual art curriculum, technology curriculum and curriculum for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Freedom Wall Project. Thom has advocated for the arts on Capitol Hill in Albany, NY, has been a presenter at many NAEA national conventions and NYSATA state conferences, and has provided professional development for his school district colleagues, with an upcoming presentation in Beijing, China.

LMC Executive Director Norm Conard says, “Thomas is a leader in art education and demonstrates great expertise in his field. Recognized as a dynamic, inspiring and compassionate educator by colleagues, students, and community members, Thom possesses the qualities that will make him an outstanding Fellow.”

While in Fort Scott, LMC Fellows gain knowledge, educational resources and ongoing support to enhance their classrooms and help students cultivate a passion for learning by creating projects that initiate positive change. Fellows emerge prepared to develop Unsung Heroes projects with their students as they apply and evaluate the stories of role models who have changed the world throughout history.


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