By Zach Dunkin
When Will Ellery was a student at Indiana University, a professor gave him some advice about teaching: “The kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
“At age 20, I just dismissed it as ‘jargon,’” said Ellery, a history teacher at Carmel High School. “But when you have been teaching for 23 years, you come to realize that’s 100 percent true. You have to really care about what you are teaching and about the job as a profession.”
And, just as passionate as he is about teaching, he is ardent about America’s military history. Each year, he leads a group of students in Europe, where they visit American World War II cemeteries.
“I have a responsibility to make sure the kids understand the sacrifices people have made and the shoulders people are standing on to achieve all that they do,” Ellery said. “It is important they understand the role the American veteran has played and continues to play in providing the very freedom under which they prosper.”
It’s that caring which led him to being named the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher of the Year. He was recently honored locally at the Carmel VFW Post 10003 and will receive the national award in July.
Each year the VFW recognizes three teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels for their commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students. Nominees are submitted by local posts for district, then state honors. Each state then submits its three winners for the national consideration.
Tom Blandford, a trustee and former commander at the Carmel post, prepared Ellery’s nomination form. He was aware of Ellery’s accomplishments with both students and his involvement with veterans.
“I was floored when I got the state recognition, but the federal award just knocked me off my feet,” Ellery said.