2013 Teacher of the Year: Suzanne Whitton
Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett named Delaware Trail Elementary School teacher Suzanne Whitton Indiana's 2013 Teacher of the Year at a surprise school assembly on September 28, 2012. Whitton teaches Visual Arts in grades K through 5 and is the school's Kindergarten Language Arts Intervention Teacher.
"Ms. Whitton's passion for encouraging students to discover their inner artists and use their talents to benefit the greater community is evident in her classroom each day," Bennett said. "The success enjoyed by her students reflects directly upon her enthusiasm, compassion and commitment to both excellence and service.
"The art-inspired service projects Ms. Whitton and her students have tackled on behalf of cancer and heart disease patients, veterans and others have benefitted thousands in Brownsburg and beyond. I am so glad she calls Indiana home, and I suspect her dedication will lead some of her students to follow her example."
Whitton says her most important accomplishments have been those achieved by her students, from regional and national scholastic art and community service awards to college scholarships. She believes her students' successes are a reflection of her teaching philosophy, which includes nourishing students' artistic talent and showing them they can make a difference in the world.
Whitton also says educators from her past inspired her to learn, achieve, create and ultimately become a dedicated teacher herself. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her mentors and inspire others to commit their lives to helping students achieve success and to spark their students' passion for fine arts.
"Ms. Whitton's knowledge, skills and personality make it possible for her to successfully teach students of all ages," said Dr. Jim Snapp, Superintendent of Brownsburg Community School Corporation. "She enjoys a positive rapport with her students while maintaining exceptionally high standards. Furthermore, she incorporates her students' artwork into ongoing service learning projects, many of which have been funded as a result of her success in pursuing grant funding. She is an exemplary teacher, a caring and informed colleague and a wonderful person."
Whitton received undergraduate degrees in Art Education and Fine Arts, as well as a Masters of Art Education, from the Herron School of Art and Design at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. In addition to her current position at Delaware Trail, Whitton has also taught Visual Arts to students in grades 6 to 8 at Brownsburg West Middle School, serving as the school's Related Arts and Visual Arts Department Head. She has held a variety of leadership positions focused on student activities and interests, service-learning, technology and mentoring new teachers.
An Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) committee comprised of past Teacher of the Year honorees, external community and education leaders and IDOE personnel selected Whitton as the Teacher of the Year after interviewing and visiting the classrooms of ten finalists. Whitton will be Indiana's nominee for the 2013 National Teacher of the Year honor. All 46 Indiana Teacher of the Year candidates will be recognized at a banquet in Indianapolis on October 12, 2012.
The Indiana Teacher of the Year Program is sponsored by the IDOE, the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning and CSO Architects. The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by Target®, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers in partnership with the ING Foundation, the University of Phoenix and People to People Ambassador Programs.