Best known for his 2016 walk across America to raise money for Helping Hands for Freedom, a veterans organization, Beech Grove Middle School eighth-grade math teacher Kevin Winton has been named Teacher of the Year by the Beech Grove High School Association.
Mr. Winton is known too for his excellence in the classroom. He loves teaching math, and everyone at the school knows that. He is a wonderful role model, and all of his students enjoy having him as a teacher. He makes learning fun and incorporated math into his walk by letting students know how many steps it would take to make a mile.
Not only is Mr. Winton a superb instructor, he also stresses how important it is for his students to set goals and work to achieve them.
He is being honored for his unique way of reaching his students and showing them that life – like math – starts with the first step.
“I’m seeing my second generation of students,” the 30-year teacher (29 at Beech Grove) said. “It’s rewarding to see my former students doing so well in their family lives and careers.”
Winton and his walking partner, Indianapolis police detective David Roth, set out on their journey April 28 when departing Atlantic City, N.J., on historic U.S. Route 40 with their destination being San Francisco.
Their journey – known as the Route for the Brave – took them 3,091 miles across 14 states in four months, during which time Mr. Winton wore out 13 pairs of shoes and numerous socks. They averaged between 3 and 4 mph and 20 to 25 miles a day, six days a week.
Their training began in the summer of 2015 by walking much of Route 40 in Indiana. They normally walked twice a day, covering anywhere from 8 to 16 miles. Winton once logged 35 miles on a Sunday – a round-trip jaunt from his Acton home to Downtown Indianapolis.
“The people I met as we walked across Indiana were extraordinary and truly amazing,” Mr. Winton said before his trek across the United States. “The stories shared as we stopped at various small communities were fascinating. It is impossible to describe the sunrise over the soybean fields near Spiceland.
“The number of hawks was too numerous to count, but the bald eagle flying along the White River and then perching on the old Washington Street Bridge was one incredible sight. I had no idea how invigorating walking would be. I can’t begin to imagine the majestic views we will have over our venture,” said Winton, who coaches the school’s Academic Pursuit team, which won the 2016 Marion County tournament.
His daughters, Kathryn, Jessica and Elizabeth, all of whom are college students and graduates of Franklin Central High, and Laura Williams, now his fiancee, provided him a great amount of support.
Also big backers were his parents, Jim and Sue, who live in Acton on a farm that has been in Sue’s family since 1842.
Mr. Winton was thankful for all the telephone calls and texts that Beech Grove teachers and friends sent him along the way of his ocean-to-ocean walk.
The money that he and Roth raised will be used to construct a retreat home for military families.
Reflecting on his walk, Winton commented, “I cannot describe my emotions of the walk and especially the many families of veterans who told us their stories of bravery. We were able to share their personal pride, grief and sorrow in losing loved ones all along the way. Many of their comments will not be forgotten.”
Mr. Winton had always wanted to embark upon a project that would have a lasting impression. His inspiration came from a quote by John Bunyan that he ran across while writing a paper for a theology and literature class at Franklin College: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
“ I am hoping the Route for the Brave will have an impact on numerous people for years to follow,” Winton said.
The Acton resident, a deacon at New Bethel Baptist Church, was awestruck by the beauty of the land and the unity of the people across the United States.
“The beauty is beyond description. And the openness of the people has been uplifting particularly at the end of the walk on many days.”
The sights and hospitality were incredible: They were followed by deer down a mountain peak in Maryland and the Appalachian Trail; seeing the grandeur of Sideling Hill in western Maryland; pausing at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.; enjoying the hospitality of New Bethel Baptist Church on the Southside; standing in an arch of a section of the Berlin Wall in Missouri; speaking at Chapman (Mo.) United Methodist Church; reaching the Berthound Pass and crossing the Continental Divide; seeing the sun rise above the Rocky Mountains; and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing the San Francisco Bay.