Craig Lindvahl Receives Final Award for ISBE’s Year of the Volunteer Program

The longtime educator, filmmaker, and Board member was honored at January Board meeting


SPRINGFIELD, IL  – Members of the State Board of Education presented fellow Board member Craig Lindvahl of Effingham with a volunteer award for his 35-plus years of dedication to education and creating leadership opportunities for youth. The award was presented at the Board’s January meeting as part of the Year of the Volunteer program.

“Craig is a true public servant who has devoted his life to empowering and educating future generations,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “We are proud of his work and grateful for his dedication to Illinois. His leadership in our field is an inspiration.”

The initiative, established by a Senate resolution, aims to “engage all generations as participants, planners, organizers, and leaders of the volunteer infrastructure.” During 2015, State Board of Education members honored individuals within their communities for their dedication and volunteer service.

Lindvahl spent 34 years in Teutopolis District 50 schools, where he influenced thousands of students throughout his career teaching music, band, television production, and entrepreneurship. During his tenure, he taught every grade from kindergarten through 12th, tripled the size of the district band program, and created a television production program. He also led a group of students to the Marshall Islands to produce a student-led documentary about the country and culture. The film was distributed to 5,000 schools through the Peace Corps.

Now retired from teaching, Lindvahl serves as the executive director of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, a company that educates future business leaders. He also developed the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) program in which high school students from throughout the country create their own businesses while learning from other successful business owners. He’s traveled across the United States to help other educators develop similar programs while also serving on the Illinois State Board of Education since 2015.

Lindvahl has earned the Milken National Educator Award and has twice been a finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year. He was also recognized as the Effingham Daily News 2015 Citizen of the Year. Lindvahl is an award-winning filmmaker, having earned 12 Mid-America Emmy Awards and 11 Telly Awards for his writing, producing, camera work, and editing. Projects have taken him all over the world and given him the opportunity to work with students from more than 25 countries. He currently owns Callan Films Corp., which produces documentaries and corporate projects.  Lindvahl’s experiences led him to write the inspirational book, “Things You Wish You Knew Yesterday And Other Stuff You’ll Need to Know Tomorrow,” which was published in 2014.

Lindvahl was recently diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer and has shared his battle publicly to continue teaching and help improve the lives of others. (Read more about Lindvahl’s journey on his blog, He lives in Effingham with his wife Beth and plans to continue on with his many projects and service to the Board for as long as he is able. Lindvahl says he wants to use his remaining time as an opportunity to help people understand what is important in life.

He encourages everyone to follow three simple pieces of advice:

1.   Reach out and say something positive to someone every day;

2.   Appreciate those around you;

3.   Frame every day around who will be better because of your work that day.

Last month, Lindvahl spoke to ISBE employees about his “Five Pillars of Success.” You may view the webinar recording here.

The Senate designated 2015 as the Year of the Volunteer in response to the “Volunteering and Civic Life in America” report by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the National Conference on Citizenship that showed only about a quarter of Illinoisans volunteered in 2013. According to Senate Resolution 1002, research shows that “Illinoisans who do not volunteer would like to, but simply do not know how to get connected to service opportunities.” In cooperation with fellow organizations, ISBE urges community members of all ages to explore volunteer opportunities, particularly those related to children and their education.

ISBE supported the initiative in cooperation with Generations Serving Generations, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Illinois Department on Aging, the Serve Illinois Commission, the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the Illinois Community College Board, and the Illinois Senate via Senate Resolution 1002.