Editor's Note: This story is part of The Partnership Project, a series of content written in an effort by The Daily News to follow the formal collaboration of Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools. Read more in this series here.
Ball State and Muncie Community Schools (MCS) have been working together to provide the students of Ball State and MCS with educational experiences through a partnership.
The Teachers College has been placing student teachers in MCS making the schools professional development schools (PDS).
Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of Ball Brothers Foundation (BBF), said Ball State applied for a grant to hire PDS liaisons in the school district.
Fisher said the liaison program is a “great thing” for MCS and that BBF is helping with resources to support the program. He said he was excited for the “great potential” for Ball State to use its resources in the schools.
“The positive potential for some really good things to happen for both the university and Muncie community schools is incredible,” Fisher said.
He said the future looks “bright” for MCS and he looks forward to seeing what comes of the partnership.
Jon Dee, director of the office of teacher education services and clinical practice, said professional development is how Ball State “forms a bond” with the school liaison who is tasked with being the “center hub of knowledge” between Ball State and the school.
Krista Hancock, instructor of secondary education and PDS liaison for Muncie Community High School, said "the whole thing is more than just the Teachers College, it’s the entire university."
Hancock said she has taught in MCS for 13 years before coming to Ball State and has been advocating for this relationship between the two organizations for years, and when it happened it “felt natural.”
“They’re in our backyard,” Hancock said about MCS in relation to Ball State.
Through the existing PDS network, Ball State already had a very strong relationship with the school district, Hancock said.
“For me as an administrator it was great,” Dee said. “Muncie schools is a vital resource for us.”
He said Ball State and MCS working together will “only help strengthen their relationship” and described the partnership as a “win-win” for both Ball State and MCS.
Dee said field experiences can be expanded upon with the partnership and that Ball State wants to cultivate a relationship with the teachers in the classrooms they’re involved with.
He said stepping into a classroom can be a difficult and building relationships with the school is important.
“We have the resources here on campus that can help teachers,” Dee said.
The funding for the MCS liaison is going on “behind the scenes” said Sherly Stump, interim associate dean of the Teachers College and professor of mathematical sciences.
While, the work of the PDS liaison is being funded by Ball State, Stump said she isn’t sure where BBF’s funding will be going toward specifically.
With the new partnership in place, she said the partnership team is carefully monitoring the schools to make sure they have the important elements in place without disrupting ongoing work.
When a school in the district needs funds for a project, Hancock said the liaison will work together with the schools to get them the funds they need.
Through immersive learning classes at Ball State, Eva Zygmunt, professor of early childhood, youth and family studies, works with classes in MCS to meet their needs.
Zygmunt said she hopes students within MCS see what Ball State is like, experience the culture and then hopefully enroll at Ball State creating a “stronger bond” with the community.