History of Our Partnership

Ball State’s historic partnership with Muncie Community Schools (MCS) is shaping the district into one of the nation's most innovative and transformative urban public education systems in the nation.

Ball State and MCS have a dynamic relationship of academic support that has led to increased enrollment, new classes, expanded programs, and educator support. Through the Professional Development School Liaisons, College Connections, and Academic Projects, Ball State and MCS are creating a culture of support and collaboration for MCS’s students and educators.

Professional Development School Liaisons (PDSL)

The PDSLs are part of the Clinical Practice Network, organized and managed by Ball State Teachers College’s Office of Teacher Education Services and Clinical Practice (OTES). PDSLs are Ball State faculty who are partnered with an MCS school to aid in the professional development of the school’s educators. These scholars combine cutting-edge research and theory with real-world, practical solutions to meet the needs of MSC’s educators. The PDSLs provide training, lead workshops, collaborate with field experiences for student teachers, and lead school-based research tied to school improvement documents. Current PDSLs include:

  • East Washington Academy: Scott Dueker, assistant professor of Applied Behavior Analysis, Special Education
  • Longfellow Elementary School: Youn Hong, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Education
  • Northside Middle School: Susanna Benko, director of English Education and associate professor of English; Andrew Gatza, assistant professor of Mathematical Sciences
  • 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: Kathryn Fletcher, professor of Psychology, Educational Psychology
  • Central Office, Special Education Services: Janay Sander, professor of Educational Psychology

Breakfast Club

Susanna Benko, a Professional Development School Liaison (PDSL) at Muncie Central and Northside and Southside Middle Schools, used her time at the schools to mentor English teachers on increasing their students reading comprehension. They met monthly for a school year in a resource room at Southside Middle School an hour before school started and during the first period of the day. With a colorful display of glazed donuts greeting teachers as they entered the room, they dubbed their meeting the “Breakfast Club.”

Dr. Benko led the lively group of teachers in constructive exercises and group discussions about the reasons for students’ reading comprehension difficulties, leading to insights and connections about how to focus on the students as individuals and highlight the skills and interests they currently have. These practical discussions revealed the teachers’ strong desire to see their students be a success and achieve their potential.

The monthly Breakfast Club meetings end with 50 minutes of constructive time for the teachers to develop their strategies and lessons for engaging students, because as Dr. Benko says, “Time is what teachers need more than anything.”

Read more about the professional development liaison program in this article by The Ball State Daily News.

Each college at Ball State University is partnered with a school in MCS. Through this program called College Connections, faculty and teachers come together to improve the educational experience for everyone at MCS. Each Ball State college navigates the partnership differently, based on the needs of their partner school. The College Connections are spearheaded by representatives who serve as a point of contact for each college. Ball State faculty, staff, and students are invited to connect with their college’s representative to brainstorm ideas, learn more information, and discuss questions about the partnership and project proposal process. Current College Connections representatives include:

  • College of Communication, Information, and Media – Kate Elliott - West View Elementary School
  • College of Health – Jerry Reynolds - Grissom Elementary School
  • College of Fine Arts –Lexi Musselman- Northside Middle School
  • College of Sciences and Humanities – Sarah Vitale – Muncie Central High School & Muncie Area Career Center
  • Honors College –Emily Rutter - East Washington Academy
  • Miller College of Business –Candy Dodd- Longfellow Elementary School
  • R. Wayne Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning – Jennifer Warrner - South View Elementary School
  • Teachers College – Kendra Lowery & Sari Harris- North View Elementary School and Southside Middle School
  • Office of Community Engagement – Kelli Huth- General Support
  • Sponsored Projects Administration - Jackie Davis, Stephanie Roof - General Support

West View Elementary

Faculty, staff, students, and volunteers have taken a special interest in West View Elementary, where the school is pursuing excellence in a dual-language program. Read more in this Ball State Magazine article and view the video below about an immersive learning project to accompany the school’s program that has led to mentoring opportunities and the development of a digital booklet.

Ball State faculty, professional staff, and graduate students are encouraged to propose projects to work with Muncie Community Schools. Academic projects can vary from spanning the entire district to a single classroom. All faculty, staff, and students are also encouraged to volunteer at MCS

Read more about getting involved in MCS at the Propose Project or Volunteer Opportunities pages.