IWU Alum Receives Milken Award: ‘Oscars of Teaching’

No IWU graduate has yet won an Oscar — not the movie actor kind at any rate.  But “the Oscars of teaching,” now that’s a different story.

In a moment, I’ll tell you more.

Not long ago someone just getting acquainted with IWU asked me, “Who are the most distinguished IWU alumni?”

IWU counts among its alumni corporate CEOs, college presidents, a Tuskegee airman, researchers, doctors, humanitarians, global executives, professional athletes, and legislators.  I shared some of these names with our visitor.

I can’t think of any more important and treasured IWU alumni, though, than the graduates of our teacher education programs. Let me tell you the story of Melody Coryell, one such alumna who just won a Milken Award — “the Oscar of teaching.”

Indiana Wesleyan University Transition to Teaching certificate formally paved the way to Melody Coryell’s successful career as a high school teacher, but she says the path to her job started in second grade when she was accepted into an educational program that opened a world of learning.

“That program in Kokomo, Indiana, taught me that education can change lives, and as an adult I’ve sought ways to offer the same kind of experience to students,” Coryell wrote in a biography posted on the website of Shortridge High School where she teaches English and coordinates the International Baccalaureate program.

A few months ago, Coryell was one of 40 educators nationwide who received $25,000 Milken Educator Awards, which Teacher magazine describes as “the Oscars of Teaching.”

Coryell received a Transition to Teaching certificate from IWU in 2003.  The accelerated program enables adults with a non-teaching degree to become licensed teachers.  More than 1,400 students have completed the TTT program since it was launched in 2002.

Before enrolling in the IWU program, Coryell received dual bachelor’s degrees in English and history from Ball State University. She also received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Butler University in 2015.

“Melody Coryell developed a passion for education at a very young age. Today, she is changing the lives of teachers and students every day,” said Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards.

“At Shortridge High School, Melody opens students’ eyes and minds to the world of learning from the diverse thoughts of literary greats around the globe. Because of her instruction, students not only enjoy a rich education but also hold a deep understanding and respect for others that they will carry through life,” Foley said.

Coryell has taught at Shortridge since July 2014 after more than a decade as the International Baccalaureate coordinator and English teacher at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis.

Foley said Coryell’s students are exposed to the diverse thinking of international authors and writers. Through her own experiences with international travel – having studied at Oxford University – she instills the importance of cultural awareness and understanding through dialogue and literature.

In addition to teaching and facilitating the International Baccalaureate program, Coryell is the mentorship coordinator through which she leads weekly professional development sessions for all faculty members at Shortridge. She also is a member of the senior school leadership team, coaches speech and debate, and organizes excursions and initiatives.

Making connections between school and parents is a top priority, Foley said. Coryell cultivates relationships through organizing conferences, meetings and other events.