By Grace Hooley | Echo
"I liken the entire process to riding a roller coaster in which the hills get higher every time and the coaster pauses at the top of the hill so you can see/feel/anticipate the drop! Then when you least expect it, the coaster releases you to plummet down the hill and coast up the next, higher, bigger hill," Jerome Flewelling said while describing the process of becoming Indiana's Teacher of the Year.
Jerome Flewelling ('97) recently won the 2018 Indiana Teacher of the Year (INTOY) award. He has been a Crown Point High School physics teacher since 2001, and he is also the head of the science department and an assistant theater director. Flewelling graduated from Taylor with a physics degree.
During his time at Taylor, Flewelling was roommates with David Ritchie, who is now on Taylor's Advancement staff. Jim Garringer, director of media relations at Taylor, recently got to talk to and get to know Flewelling after the announcement of the INTOY.
"He has a genuine heart and loves his students - he takes those two outstanding attributes and combines them with excellence in the classroom and compelling content that engages his students," Garringer said. "Jerome is an outstanding teacher, and he takes his faith seriously. We are obviously quite proud of his accomplishments."
Flewelling described the feeling of winning this award as a mixture of awesome and humbling. He simply values going into his classroom and doing his job to the best of his abilities. He was surprised to be entered and to win an award like this.
The process of getting to INTOY starts with the corporation. Each corporation in Indiana has a corporation teacher of the year, and any teacher can nominate another. A team of people consisting of leaders, business people, administration and previous corporation teachers of the year decide on five primary and five secondary candidates. Then, a primary and secondary winner is chosen. Only the primary and secondary corporation teachers of the year are allowed to apply for state teacher of the year. Another team in Indianapolis thins the candidate pool by choosing 25, 10 and then eventually one Indiana Teacher of the Year. Flewelling was eventually the lucky one chosen.
"I was incredibly excited and humbled," Flewelling said. "The verse that came to mind was 2 Samuel 7: 'Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?. . .You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, and there is no God besides You!'"
Flewelling's responsibilities as INTOY include a year of sabbatical or "Year of Service." During this year, Flewelling will be a liaison to the superintendent of public instruction as well as a speaker at sessions for local schools, universities and educational organizations. He will also present at professional development conferences, and he will receive policy and leadership opportunities.
Flewelling had the opportunity to meet with this past year's INTOY Jitka Nelson. He is also excited to meet the U.S. president at this coming year's INTOY unveiling in the spring as well as a week long training at the Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, which is a tradition for teachers of the year. Through this whole ride, Flewelling is thankful for many things, such as the support of his wife, students and colleagues.
"It has been an incredible roller coaster," Flewelling said.