woman crouched, speaking with children

The Joint BSU-MCS Academic Innovation Council (AIC) is a team of representatives from Ball State and Muncie Community Schools (MCS) working together to support the nation’s first partnership between a public university and public school system.

This blend of educational thought-leaders, teachers, administrators, and passionate Muncie residents are driven to:

  • Engage and embrace the ideas of all stakeholders throughout the development of the Academic Innovation and Financial Viability Plan.
  • Develop strategies and wrap-around services to strengthen academic performance. Those goals and tactics will appear in the academic innovation plan.
  • Embolden Muncie Community Schools educators and staff to pursue innovative teaching and partnerships.
  • Sustain a user-friendly process for Ball State educators and students to propose research, projects, and programs with MCS that benefit students and align with the district’s goals and objectives.
  • Celebrate and share the transformative work happening in our schools.
  • Build community around and support for Muncie’s school system and its one-of-a-kind partnership with Ball State.

The Executive Leadership Team guides the overall charge of the AIC.


Ball State faculty, staff, and students are invited to connect with their college’s AIC representative to brainstorm ideas, learn more, or discuss questions about the partnership and project proposal process.


  • College of Communication, Information and Media – Kate Elliott, Lecturer of Journalism
  • College of Health – Shannon Powers, Associate Teaching Professor of Kinesiology
  • College of Fine Arts – Kevin Gerrity, Associate Professor of Music Education 
  • College of Sciences and Humanities – Bryan Byers, Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology; and Lynne Stallings, Associate Professor of English
  • Miller College of Business – Kelsey Brasel, Assistant Professor of Accounting
  • R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning – Jennifer Warrner, Associate Teaching Professor of Construction 
  • Teachers College – Ruth Jefferson, Associate Professor of Special Education
  • University Libraries – Lisa Jarrell, Head of Educational Technology and Resources Collection

Teachers College faculty who collaborate with schools on field experiences, provide site-specific professional development, and lead school-based research tied to school improvement documents.

Ball State’s Office of Teacher Education Services and Clinical Practice (OTES) manages these valuable partnerships.

  • East Washington Academy: Kelsey Pavelka, Assistant Lecturer of Elementary Education
  • Grissom Elementary School: Dixie Denton, Senior Lecturer of Elementary Education
  • Longfellow Elementary School: Kirsten Robbins, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction of Elementary Education
  • Muncie Central High School: Susanna Benko, director of English Education and Associate Professor of English; Andrew Gatza, Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences
  • Northside Middle School: Susanna Benko, director of English Education and Associate Professor of English; Andrew Gatza, Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences
  • North View Elementary School: Rebecca Brown, Assistant Teaching Professor of Elementary Education
  • Southside Middle School: Susanna Benko, director of English Education and Associate Professor of English; Andrew Gatza, Assistant Professor of Mathematical Sciences
  • South View Elementary School: Angela Stefanski, Associate Professor of Elementary Education
  • West View Elementary School: Amy Leitze, Lecturer of Elementary Education

Council Accomplishments

The council has guided the work of this historic partnership to transform the district into a national model for innovative, rigorous, and holistic education. This anchoring, citywide effort sets a new precedent for the role higher education can have in K-12 schools, and reaffirms Ball State’s commitment to its community. In its first year, the partnership:

  • Stabilized enrollment,
  • Established a strong governance structure,
  • Garnered more than $5 million in pledges and grants,
  • Launched new academic and enrichment programs and services,
  • Strengthened relationships with community partners, and
  • Enhanced professional development for MCS administrators, teachers, and staff. 

Learn more about the history and accomplishments of this historic partnership.

Propose a Project

MCS welcomes project proposals from Ball State faculty, professional staff, or graduate students that span the entire district, multiple schools, or a single school, class, or program.

Propose Project