Butler College of Education will honor graduates Ron Smith and the late Bill Gavaghan with 2011 Distinguished Alumnus awards on May 13.

Nominated by other COE alumni, award recipients are recognized for exceptional accomplishments and contributions within the education profession.

Bill GavaghanWilliam J. Gavaghan EPPSP 1986Butler University College of Education hired Bill Gavaghan as its first Professional in Residence in 2009. He led development of the Butler Way Leadership Conference for middle and high school students. Drawing on his previous experience as executive director of the Indiana Principal Leadership Academy (IPLA), he helped COE helped organize the Legacy Group and other College initiatives supporting principal development. Gavaghan also worked in planning the College of Business’s Executive Education program.

He taught at Indianapolis’ Howe and Lawrence North high schools, and served Craig Middle School as dean, vice principal and, for more than 20 years, principal. While leading IPLA, he rewrote all the Academy’s principal standards. When the state dropped funding for IPLA in 2009, he ensured that the final academy graduation ceremony happened.

Gavaghan received his master’s degree from Indiana University and graduated from COE’s Experiential Program in Preparation for School Principals (EPPSP) in 1986, as part of the fourth cohort.

A lifelong runner who competed as a student on cross country teams, Gavaghan organized community walk/run events for promotion of good health. He successfully completed multiple marathons, finishing the Boston Marathon six times.

He passed away on Oct. 21, 2010.

“Bill is remembered for his genuine passion for healthy child development and seeking the best in teachers and educational administrators,” said COE Dean Ena Shelley.

Ronald SmithRonald W. Smith ’88 M.S. ’96Since 2001, Ron Smith has been director of the Warren Early Childhood Center for MSD Warren Township. He directs more than 60 teachers, instructional assistants, custodial team members, office staff and child care employees. He also manages the district’s Early Childhood Special Education program.

“Through singularity of vision, determination, careful hiring and a democratic vision of leadership, Ron has created a Reggio-inspired learning environment in Warren Township that has served as a model for others,” said Shelley. “He is known for inspiring great loyalty and community in his staff and families.” 

Smith is a founding member of the Indianapolis Reggio Collaborative and served as Project Coordinator when the IRC hosted a national Reggio exhibit, “The Wonder of Learning, The Hundred Languages of Children,” in the Indiana Statehouse in July–December 2009.

In fall 2011, Smith will become head of the Indianapolis Public Schools/Butler University Laboratory School, a Reggio Emilia-inspired magnet elementary school.

Previously with MSD Wayne Township, he was assistant principal of Stout Field Elementary, assistant principal of Chapel Glen Elementary and a teacher in kindergarten and grades 1 and 4 for Grassy Creek Elementary. He authored a technology grant that brought $40,000 in new computer equipment and software into Grassy Creek classrooms.

Smith has received the Hoosier Educator Award (2007), the IPL Golden Apple Award honoring creative use of math, science or technology in the classroom (1995) and the Carol McMullen Early Childhood Award (1988).

He earned his B.S. in elementary education and his M.S. in school leadership from Butler. He is a doctoral candidate in education at Ball State University, specializing in early childhood education. He is married to Kara Fitzgerald Smith COE ’91, MS ’03.

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson(317) 940-6944mestephe@butler.edu

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