Josh Weaver is a recipient of a Lilly Endowment Inc. grant through its 2024 Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program. Josh teaches high school Bible, religion, economics, and AP government and has taught at Bethany since 2011. He received the grant for his British Bicycle Pilgrimage proposal in which he will build a bicycle from scratch and then ride it on a pilgrimage through Cornwall and other routes through the Isle of Man.
The Lilly Endowment approved grants to 104 K-12 educators working in Indiana schools, both public and private. This year’s fellows are classroom teachers, principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, school counselors, librarians, and media specialists. The grants – of up to $15,000 each – will fund proposed renewal projects designed to help restore a commitment to the education profession and stimulate creativity, which promise to enhance the educational experiences of their students.
“Indiana’s K-12 schools employ talented and dedicated educators who work tirelessly to support the success of Hoosier students each day,” says Ted Maple, the Endowment’s vice president for education. “The renewal projects of this year’s fellows are compelling, and we believe their experiences will rejuvenate them and further strengthen the extraordinary contributions they make to the lives of their students and communities.”
In describing his need for renewal, Josh says, “Professionally, my job is rewarding, but the past year has been difficult. Within the span of a year, our school experienced significant grief and tragedy. Our school lost a beloved colleague in a pedestrian-car accident and, in the months surrounding this loss, two students to gun violence. As a teacher of religion and a class advisor to one of these students, I sat with his friends in their grief and counseled them where I could, but at times, I neglected my own need to grapple with these losses.”
Cycling is an activity where Josh often finds renewal. He enjoys cycling as a pastime and often cycles to work. In addition, he has organized cycling interterms for Bethany students. This summer, he is looking forward to constructing his own bicycle through a week-long residency at a framebuilding course in Coalport, England. After constructing his bike, he plans to use it for a century ride (100 miles), circumnavigating the Isle of Man and entering the Isle of Man Gran Fondo cycling race.
Josh plans to integrate some of his other interests into the renewal process: environmental sustainability, religious history, and spirituality. Another goal is to complete the Cornish Celtic Way pilgrimage trail. Although traditionally a walking trail, he plans to map out a cycling route for the pilgrimage and submit it to the British Pilgrimage Trust. Josh says, “Celtic Spirituality honors both the revelation of God in the Bible and the revelation present in creation, where God is encountered in the land, creatures, and elements. My intention in following this Celtic pilgrimage is to experience the spirituality of landscapes that bridge the space between land and ocean, changes in weather, and a physical connection with my surroundings.”
Upon his return to classes at Bethany in the fall, Josh plans to integrate his experiences from the Celtic pilgrimage and incorporate them into the unit on environmental stewardship in the Christian Faith Journey class. He says, “The ethics and environmentalism of Celtic Spirituality, combined with careful consideration of transportation alternatives, such as cycling and walking, will help my students care for creation and make sustainable choices as they enter the world as responsible adults.”