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J. Michael Caywood
Holland Elementary School
Fort Wayne Community Schools
Fort Wayne, Indiana

During his thirty-one years as principal of the high-poverty Holland Elementary School, J. Michael Caywood has opened up the world beyond urban Fort Wayne to more than 800 students, many of whom had never previously left their neighborhoods. As part of a district magnet program, Caywood developed and initiated an Environmental Education curriculum that was recognized for its excellence by the state and drew numerous students to the school. As an outgrowth of this, the annual North Carolina Marine Studies Program was conceived under Caywood’s leadership. This long-running program allowed the school to take up to forty fifth-grade students to the North Carolina coast each year for twenty-two years. Students stayed in a residential camp, studied different marine ecosystems, visited aquariums, museums, the Cape Lookout National Seashore and, in partnership with Duke University, participated in a marine life collecting cruise. Caywood has also created a school culture that he describes as “positive and uplifting,” promoting a strong sense of empathy, good citizenship, and responsibility to the community among the school’s 550, prekindergarten through fifth grade students. Through a variety of activities and programs, students have come to recognize the contributions of veterans and have helped raise over $120,000 in less than two years to build a handicap-accessible playground for special needs students. “Mike truly exemplifies the educator who loves to learn and makes sure that his students share that joy with him,” says his superintendent. Caywood holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Indiana University, an M.S. in Administration from Purdue University, and completed a post graduate program through Ball State and Indiana-Purdue.