[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n 1918, the Ball brothers founded the school that became Ball State University to meet the need for more and better teachers. Today, Ball State is a world-class University with seven colleges. Yet throughout its 100 years, Teachers College has remained true to its mission: preparing educators for the classroom and beyond. Its graduates teach schoolchildren, lead school personnel, shape education policy in state, and spur innovation throughout the nation and around the world.
Among Teachers College’s roughly 45,000 living alumni are Vince Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead The Way; Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction; Suellen Reed, Indiana’s former superintendent of public instruction; David and Roger Johnson, of the Cooperative Learning Institute; Eugene White, president of Martin University; and Phil Metcalf, of AdvancED.
Roy Weaver, interim dean of Teachers College, recently sat down with Ball State Magazine to reflect on Ball State’s Centennial and to discuss his college’s proud past and bright future.
Which three accomplishments of Teachers College are you most proud of?
Many good things have happened here. It’s difficult to choose only three. As I reflect on the University’s — and our college’s — 100-year history, the theme of innovation emerges. At Teachers College, we embrace innovation and are proud to be early adopters of new technology. But innovation takes more than the latest gadget. It requires courage.
You will see the results of those two values — along with excellence, integrity, social responsibility, respect, and gratitude — throughout our past. In the 1990s and 2000s, Ball State Teachers College brought the treasures of the Smithsonian museums, NASA, and other institutions to classrooms across the country by Electronic Field Trips at a time when internet access was far from universal. In 2003, we were one of the first colleges of education in the country to require laptops for all our teaching majors, who developed electronic portfolios to show their growth in the profession and share with potential employers.
And we easily moved into online education before other institutions could. Educators everywhere improve their skills and fill needs in their professions and communities. One example is our online master’s program in applied behavioral analysis for professionals who work with children and adults on the autism spectrum. In five years, enrollment in that program has more than doubled, with over 2,200 students this Fall.
What initiatives are you most looking forward to?
In our bright future, our college will increase diversity among its students, enter into more international partnerships, work with innovators here in the U.S. to enhance education, especially for STEM disciplines, and enhance our partnerships with our local schools.
What facets about Teachers College should people know?
Today, Ball State Teachers College has nationally-recognized undergraduate and graduate programs. We have one of the longest-lasting and largest professional development school networks in the country, one of the few and oldest K-12 laboratory schools, and an academy for Indiana’s gifted high school students. Our professors research the connection between reading and life skills in the juvenile justice system and explore new ways to teach all learners.
During Ball State’s Centennial, we celebrate how we do more than educate students. We serve our neighbors near and far.
One of the most visible examples is Ball State’s new partnership with Muncie Community Schools. In each MCS school, one of our professors serves as a professional development school liaison and collaborates on our students’ field experiences, provides professional development specifically for educators in that school, and supports school-based research for improvement.
“For 100 years, Ball State has had an unwavering belief in an education rooted in creativity, values, and intellectual curiosity.”
We have global connections as well. Through our 15-year partnership with the Department of Defense Education Activity, education majors have taught at schools in military bases in Germany. We have also partnered with the European Teacher Education Network, worked to bring education reform to war-torn Pakistan and Afghanistan, and reimagined education in Africa, just to name a few examples.
How does Teachers College encourage students to live the Beneficence Pledge?
Social responsibility, one of the University’s core values, is part of our curriculum and our culture. We expect our students to find ways to be supportive of each other and to value the skills of collaboration and cooperation.
We’ve embedded community service into some introductory courses. In addition, our students look for ways to be helpful to the community with food drives and coat drives, and they work with organizations such as Motivate Our Minds (MOM) and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Muncie.
We want our students to be willing to give time beyond regular expectations.
How does Teachers College empower students?
One example is Ball State’s immersive learning courses. These experiences empower aspiring teachers with passion and purpose. Through Schools Within the Context of Community, Mathematics in the Cultural Context, and other projects, our students serve local schools while they learn about children’s culture and gain classroom experience.
What would you like to highlight for the Centennial?
At Teachers College, we often talk about the power of an idea. We dream we can do it, then we take a creative risk and make it happen. For 100 years, Ball State has had an unwavering belief in an education rooted in creativity, values, and intellectual curiosity.
One thing remains constant: Our courage and innovation are who we are and what we do, and Ball State’s values will propel us as we enter our next century.