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Last modified: Friday, April 23, 2010

IU School of Education names new Armstrong Teacher Educators

Designation honors top teachers, advances professional development, teacher preparation and education research

April 23, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University School of Education has announced a class of six Indiana public school teachers as the group of Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Teacher Educators for the 2010-11 school year. These select teachers will participate in professional development opportunities and work with IU faculty and students studying to be teachers over the next year. A committee of IU faculty and former recipients choose the Armstrong teachers.

Armstrong Mandala

The Armstrong Mandala, the official logo for the Armstrong Teacher Educator program, was created by the class of '03-04 Armstrong Teacher Candice Clarke, an art teacher at Elkhart Memorial High School.

Print-Quality Photo

Since 1997, superintendents and principals from around Indiana have nominated teachers for the Armstrong Teacher Educator award based on patterns of outstanding teaching and school leadership. The nominees must also demonstrate a potential to work effectively as mentors and role models for pre-service teachers.

The current class of award winners is:

  • Barbara Andrews, art teacher at New Palestine High School. The National Art Education Association's Western Region Art Educator of the Year in 2008 and the 2007 Indiana Art Educator of the Year, Andrews focuses on a student-centered art curriculum. Her goal is to make learning meaningful to her students by connecting art to other subjects. Andrews has served as a new teacher mentor and on the Art Education Association of Indiana. She also has won a Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship and in 2008 won an award from the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund. "I want to inspire my students to become creative problem solvers and life-long learners," Andrews said about her teaching. "In order to accomplish this goal, I developed a student-centered approach to art education." Andrews hopes to collaborate with IU's East Asian Studies Center and the School of Education's art education department.
  • Kristen Poindexter, a kindergarten teacher at Spring Mill Elementary in the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township in Indianapolis. She serves as one of six science coaches in Washington Township. As part of that work, she shares inquiry-based science ideas with other teachers. In 2008, Indianapolis Power and Light awarded her with the IPL Golden Apple for her project "Monarch Migration: Destination Mexico." "I think I do a good job of incorporating science into everything I do, and I'm excited about it," Poindexter said of the reason why administrators nominated her. She says she'll emphasize to undergraduate students preparing to be teachers why kindergarten isn't too early to place science in the curriculum. "I'll share with them how important it is and how easy it is to incorporate into all subject areas.
  • Renee Strietelmeier, K-5 Language Proficiency Teacher at Jackson Elementary in Seymour. Strietelmeier collaborates with numerous organizations and agencies, including the Indiana Department of Education and IU Southeast's New Neighbor Network Program. Through this activity she has worked to strengthen English as a Second Language (ESL) programming and methodology used throughout Indiana. The Indiana Department of Education awarded Strietelmeier the 2007 Carmen Natal ESL Award, recognizing outstanding work with ESL students. Her experience includes time as an ESL teacher in Chicago.
  • Natalie Hatton, second grade and Reading Recovery teacher at Crestdale Elementary School in Richmond. Driven by her goal of finding innovative ways to teach literacy to primary students, she has created several projects to help her students. Teaming with IU East Associate Professor of English Jean Harper, college students and first graders have worked together on a "Literacy through Photography" project. Another year-long unit integrated science and literacy by a study of trees. "Inspired by several workshops I attended in the past few years, I tried out some unique teaching techniques that have helped to motivate my students," Hatton said. "I hope to do a project with the support of an IU faculty member and IU students that enhances my second grade classroom, especially in the area of literacy or science. One thing I am particularly interested in improving through this opportunity is my ability to question students in a way that makes them more critical thinkers."
  • Stacy McCormack, a physics teacher at Penn High School in Mishawaka. McCormack is the co-author of Teacher Friendly Physics, a book to help teachers create inexpensive lab-based experiences with physics. Her numerous other teaching honors include a nomination for Disney's American Teacher Award in 2002 and the National Honor Roll's Outstanding American Teachers for 2005-2006. In 2006, McCormack spent three weeks in Geneva, Switzerland at the European Organization for Nuclear Research serving as a U.S. representative at a high school teachers conference. McCormack said her drive to create frugal but fruitful science experiences began in her first teaching job at an inner-city school with a small budget. "I had to be quite creative to find ways to teach science concepts with very little money, and I spent most of my own money creating lab experiences for my students," she said. "It is my hope that I will be able to work with future science teachers to help them learn how to create guided inquiry lab experiences in all subject areas using the equipment they will have available in their first classroom."
  • John Kruggel, teacher of U.S. and world history as well as Asian studies at Brownsburg High School. Also an assistant football coach at Brownsburg, Kruggel's teaching career began at a school in China where he developed an English-based economics program for elementary and middle school students. That experience helped him create the Brownsburg High Asian studies course. Through the group "Global Indiana," he's traveled to China to create an educational exchange with a Chinese school. Kruggel also has mentored a Chinese exchange teacher. Kruggel said he mixes old and new methods to catch his students' interest in history. "Talking about the 1950s, I show them clips of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show, where they refused to show his hips," Kruggel said. To make the point about how things have changed, he then compares that with today's music videos. "I think they get more out of it if you're able to link the past to more modern times," he said.

"Having these outstanding teachers engaged in the life of the School of Education in such a meaningful way is a tremendous asset to the preparation of future teachers and our academic mission in general," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. "This is one of the most exciting private-public partnerships in education today. We owe much to the donors who helped establish it as well as the university faculty and teachers who have turned it into such a huge success."

Armstrong teachers will invite IU students and faculty to visit their classrooms and also work with campus-based courses, panel discussions, field experience sites, student teaching seminars, research projects, and other activities. Past Armstrong teachers have created unique projects from their year in the program.

The awards are made possible through the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Fund in Teacher Education, established through a gift from the Cook Group Companies, Inc. of Bloomington. The endowment also supports the Martha Lea and Bill Armstrong Chair in Teacher Education. Since the program started, more than 100 Indiana teachers have earned selection as Armstrong Teacher Educators.

Read more about the Armstrong program at, and look there for a link to more biographical information and photos of each new Armstrong teacher educator.