The Indiana Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) named Butler elementary education major Karly Keiper as Outstanding Student Chapter Teacher of the Year Feb. 21.

The CEC is an international professional association dedicated to improving the educational success of children with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.

A senior from Walkerton, Ind., Keiper has student taught in special education classes at two central Indiana schools—last fall, at Indianapolis Public Schools No. 91, and, since Jan. 14, at Allisonville Elementary.

“Karly’s a natural,” said Cynthia Grillo, the cooperating teacher who shares her Allisonville classroom with Keiper. “She has a great presence and has developed good rapport with the kids. She finds out individual children’s interests and uses that to make learning meaningful to them.

“You can see the joy she has in doing that,” said Grillo, who has taught in special education for 11 years. “She’s inspired me to see [aspects of teaching] in a new light.”

The CEC award also recognized Keiper’s involvement in a CEC student chapter—she is co-president of Butler’s chapter, along with Brittany Wickliff—and her advocacy for special needs children beyond the classroom.

Last year, Keiper recruited Butler and community volunteers to join her in mentoring students in the Indianapolis U.S. Dream Academy, an afterschool program for children with an incarcerated parent and youth at risk of incarceration.

At Keiper’s urging, members of Sigma Nu fraternity at Butler became mentors. So did some of her co-workers at Brooksource, an Indianapolis staffing agency. Brooksource employees put together and donated bicycles to academy students, and they have adopted the academy as an ongoing philanthropic cause.

Keiper declines credit for the projects.

“I was just the facilitator,” she said. “I have two very supportive loving parents, a sincere passion for teaching children, and would like for all children to have the support I’ve received in my life.”

Keiper is a member of Kappa Delta Pi Education Fraternity, Athletes in Action Bible study, and the College of Education Dean’s Advisory Board. She has served as vice president for member education for Delta Gamma Fraternity.

She has collaborated with other Butler students in education, art, business, and pharmacy studies to write a children’s book, He Huffed and He Puffed But…, to be published in May. Keiper and Jennifer Goshert were the primary authors of the book, which educates young people about juvenile asthma.

After graduation in May, she hopes to teach special education in grades 4-6, using methods she learned in COE to integrate the arts into classroom instruction. She has particular interest in teaching students with autism.

For her, Keiper said, teaching students with special needs doesn’t hold any more challenges than other fields of teaching. It gets down to “a view of difference,” she said.

“A lot people view students in special education as someone to be sympathized with. I don’t feel that way. My students are intelligent and talented. They achieve in different ways from other students, so [the teacher] must work to learn their language. They just need more people to be their cheerleaders.”

Indiana CEC presented its 1988 Outstanding Student award to Theresa Knipstein Meyer, today a COE lecturer in special education. Meyer, who serves on CEC’s executive board, is faculty adviser to Butler’s CEC chapter and to the nine other student chapters in Indiana. She directs COE’s Accelerated Alternative Program for Initial Licensure in Mild Interventions (P-12).

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944