Kaylie Fougerousse
Kaylie Fougerousse

Each year, the Lilly Endowment accepts proposals for their Teacher Creativity Grant and Fellowship for Indiana educators.

The grant provides funding for creative ways to rejuvenate educators and inspire them to give back to their students. In our joint proposal, ‘Through Our Lens: Parks, Photography, and Pedagogy,’ Stephanie Tom (Hauser Social Studies teacher) and I (Hauser English teacher) sought to photograph seven national parks (Utah’s Big Five, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone) over the course of a month.

My research interests fixate on the intersections between indigenous histories, land relations, and multi-modal narratives. Stephanie’s research interests fixate on national park history, Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy, and photography. In addition to our national park adventure, we wanted to create similar experiences for students locally. Our proposal was selected for funding.

Our trip through the national parks and national forests reinforced our collective belief that the best learning environments embrace visceral experiences that challenge us, strengthen us, scaffold us to have a different point-of-view, and enable us to creatively reflect on newfound knowledge.

Whether it was the history behind the Temple of Sinawava in Zion National Park, studying petroglyphs in the Valley of Fire, seeing the Milky Way rise at Astronomy Festival in Bryce Canyon (one of North America’s darkest spaces), exploring the orchards in Capitol Reef, seeing a lunar-esque space at Moonscape Overlook, watching rain mix with ash in the beautiful landscapes outside of Arches, witnessing the sunrise through Mesa Arch in Canyonlands, driving through the fairytale forests of Idaho, taking a nap and waking up to see the Grand Teton mountains right in front of us, or walking over the geothermic wonders at Yellowstone, each place proposed a different photographic opportunity, a new perspective on history, and the opportunity to learn something and add to our understanding of the American narrative.

Therefore, we decided to start a student photography club at Hauser this year to teach students to capture their histories, frame their own stories, and make critical connections between the way we frame moments and the narratives that those framed moments tell. The photography club will be named after Sarah Taylor, whose legacy always reminds us to find the joy in life.

Whether it is a sunset over the fields of Hope, Indiana, a historic view into the Land of the Ten O’Clock Line, or a trip to any Indiana State Park, we want our students to have experiences with nature and the empowerment of being able to contribute to the historical preservation of narratives.

It is our hope to have a photography gallery open to the community at the end of the academic year to display both our photographs from the national park adventure and student photographs from the Indiana adventure. We want to make a “national” experience a “local” experience.