The Mielke Summer Institute is a liberal arts approach to the professional development of K-12 educators from the Appleton and Shawano public schools. 

It provides participants with the opportunity to explore new ideas and examine issues of societal importance from a multidisciplinary perspective in a collegial environment characterized by open-mindedness and mutual respect.


About the Program

The Summer Institute combines serious study and playful inquiry. It is expected that participants will find areas of common interest with other educators across disciplines and grade levels, and that the resulting links will encourage both communication and collaboration in the future. The knowledge and skills that fellows acquire during the Summer Institute will, in time and in various ways, affect their work as educators. However, the goal is to provide intellectual stimulation and renewal for the participants themselves on the assumption that, ultimately, the best teachers are those who are continuously learning, exploring and creating.

Cost & Credits

  • No tuition.
  • 6 graduate credits. You must be in residence the entire week to receive the 6 graduate units.
  • Free room and board. Room (double-occupancy with private baths) and board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be provided courtesy of Lawrence University. 

There will be ample free time so participants can explore Björklunden’s 441-acre estate and the rest of Door County. Participants will be expected to stay at the lodge for the duration of the institute.

Questions about the Mielke Summer Institute?

Call Stewart Purkey 920-832-6715 or Katie Van Zeeland 920-832-6714.


2023 Mielke Summer Institute - Time for Arts and Letters


Each June the Lawrence Mielke Summer Institute at Björklunden has sought to immerse K-12 educators from Appleton and Shawano in the liberal arts, and through that multidisciplinary lens in the exploration of ideas and issues of cultural or social significance. Using works from the natural sciences, fine arts, social sciences, and the humanities we have taken to heart John Cotton Dana’s famous quote, “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn,” on the assumption that teachers are, indeed, life-long learners.

Over the years program themes have varied tremendously but we find that we often return to the fine arts, to using music, visual art, literature and poetry, and the performing arts as the means to help us, in the words of the philosopher Maxine Greene, create “the kind of wide-awakeness that allows for wonder and unease and questioning and the pursuit of what is not yet.”

This June, our 25th Summer Institute, we will engage again in what Greene calls “aesthetic education,” as we study works by the novelist Marilynne Robinson (Housekeeping), the jazz musician Miles Davis (Kind of Blue), and the artist Bruegel (Landscape with the Fall of Icarus). We will take time to appreciate these works as the artistic achievements they are and as quintessential attainments of human imagination and creativity. And we will also take time to think about the ways they may be able to help us see ourselves and the world we have created more clearly, and, perhaps, more hopefully and more joyfully.

In addition, this year, trying a slightly different Björklunden format, while afternoons and evenings will be devoted to the arts, we will spend each morning thinking and talking about a range of philosophical and ethical questions and problems related to teaching and learning and the “why” of school that all educators encounter today—and that we find ourselves confronting in our daily lives and practices in Appleton, Shawano and Lawrence. During our morning sessions we’ll also engage in discussion and activities that help us explore why we are educators and who we are in the classroom and school in these difficult times.  Though this has been another difficult year for public education and public K-12 educators, we are confident that a week at Björklunden immersing ourselves in the fine arts and in thoughtful conversation with friends and colleagues about schools and schooling will re-new, re-energize and remind us, if reminding we need, of the world’s grace and beauty, even among dark times. So, whatever your academic discipline, school assignment or knowledge of the arts, please join us. As the conceptual artist Lee Mingwei says, “just bring your sense of joy and curiosity.”

The 2022 Mielke Summer Institute will be held at Bjorklunden in Door County from Sunday evening, June 18 through noon on Friday, June 23.  Participants will stay at Lawrence’s lodge in Baileys Harbor on Lake Michigan.

Any educator in the Appleton and Shawano Public Schools may apply. A maximum of 24 applicants can be accepted. Previous participants and applicants are urged to reapply.

Required Application Materials

Candidate Application Form
Briefly state your interest and motivation for attending the Mielke Summer Institute in the Liberal Arts. Indicate qualities you possess that will enhance the program.

Supervisor Recommendation Form
This form is extremely important in the selection process. The supervisor should give specific reasons why you will be an asset to and benefit from the Mielke program.

Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination
All participants must be fully vaccinated, including all recommended boosters.  Proof of vaccination will be required and can be uploaded securely here. (Select the EDUCATION department.)

Deadlines & Notification

Your supervisor’s recommendation and candidate application form must be received by March 3, 2023. No late applications can be accepted. Notification of acceptance will be during the week of March 12, 2022.

Contact these teacher coordinators for more information:

Appleton Public Schools
Brian Bartel, Johnston Elementary School
920-832-6265
bartelbrian@aasd.k12.wi.us

Michelle Johnson, Lincoln Elementary School
920-832-6270
gibsonmichelle@aasd.k12.wi.us