Former Shiner Max Howard’s project leads him to Lilly Fellowship and trip ‘down under’


South Ripley High School teacher Max Howard is one of 100 educators who will have the chance to nurture his own curiosity and development through Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowships.

Howard, a 2003 graduate of Rising Sun High School and 2008 Indiana University grad, is in his eighth year teaching at South Ripley.

He teaches Biology and the schools Project Lead The Way Biomedical Sciences (a program Rising Sun schools will begin offering next fall). The challenging and relevant four-course PLTW Biomedical Science sequence allows students to investigate the roles of biomedical professionals as they study the concepts of human medicine, physiology, genetics, microbiology, and public health.

Max is the son of local businessman Bruce Howard and wife Sherrie Howard (kindergarten teacher at Switzerland County Elementary School). His grant application was entitled “A Hoosier Among the Kiwis”-experience ecosystems and biodiversity in the Ohio River Valley, waters of Lake Erie and New Zealand.

“A friend received one (fellowship) five or six years ago and my girlfriend received one two years ago,” he explained on how he found out about the Lilly Fellowship.

In addition to 10 days in New Zealand in July, he will spend 10 days in Australia. While viewing differences in ecosystems, he has been in contact with Steve Irwin Zoo.

“It’s more like a dream vacation that most teachers wouldn’t be able to take,” he admitted. “It will be winter in New Zealand. We will do some skiing, snowmobiling and maybe some fishing. I thought about going to Alaska but not many people get a chance to go to New Zealand

Summer break will include biomed training. He plans on taking plenty of photos and submitting a report to Lilly upon his return.

Marking its 30th year in 2017, the Endowment’s Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program gives teachers, principals, guidance counselors and school media specialists and librarians the financial support and encouragement to renew their commitment to the education profession.

Each fellow receives a $12,000 grant to support a project of personally and professionally fulfilling activities. These educators work in a variety of Indiana schools – traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools, both religiously affiliated and independent. Their schools are in urban communities, small towns, rural areas, mid- sized cities and suburban communities.

Many of the educators will use their fellowships to travel – across the United States and throughout the world – and to tap into interests as varied as cooking, artesian bread- baking and bee keeping to photography, archaeology, music composition and environmental conservation. They plan to explore national parks in the U.S. and Australia; bicycle through Germany; immerse themselves in diverse cultures across Asia; and research their family trees through writing projects.

“These dedicated teachers, principals, counselors and media specialists have designed inspirational projects that promise to strengthen them personally and professionally,” said Sara B. Cobb, the Endowment’s vice president for education. “For three decades now we at the Endowment have learned how important it is for educators to have time and space to create and explore. They have shared with us that they return to their schools with a greater commitment to their students and the vocation of education.”

Including the 2017 class, more than 2,900 Indiana educators have received grants since the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program began in 1987. The Endowment selected the 2017 fellows from a competitive pool of more than 500 applicants. In addition to grants that support the renewal of educators, the Endowment funds programs that offer renewal grants to people working in the human service sector and in the arts in central Indiana and clergy who pastor churches in Indiana and across the nation.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., with gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical company. The Endowment is primarily committed to the causes of community development, education and religion.