Local third-grade students, Ball State Education majors, and Charlie Cardinal greet Capt. Barrington Irving at the Delaware County Regional Airport. As part of his Flying Classroom Program, Capt. Irving flew into Muncie last Summer to work with students participating in the Summer Learning Fun at Camp Adventure (SLFCA) day camp.
Ball State Teachers College’s community-engaged learning programs provide significant value to schools in Muncie and around the state.
As he approached the Delaware County Regional Airport runway in his Bombardier Learjet 40XR, Capt. Barrington Irving could’ve sworn he could see a swarm of people moving about the property.
Traveling to Muncie last Summer as part of his Flying Classroom program—a supplemental digital Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM+) curriculum—Capt. Irving was under the impression he would meet some Ball State officials and then head to Camp Adventure. There, he would work with the third graders and Ball State’s Education majors participating in the Summer Learning Fun at Camp Adventure (SLFCA) day camp before flying back to his hometown of Miami.
Instead, Capt. Irving quickly realized that the moving “swarm” was dozens of children jumping up and down with his picture in their hands, bussed to the airport to provide him with a special greeting.
“It was just awesome to see young people that excited,” Capt. Irving said. “I made my co-captain do the landing because I wanted to enjoy that moment.”
Capt. Irving, who had been working with the SLFCA campers virtually prior to his visit, gave the children a personal tour of his aircraft before they all headed to Camp Adventure, where their STEM education, led by Ball State teaching majors, continued. Capt. Irving was so touched by the group’s reception that he provided campers with a pizza and ice cream party for their final day of camp.
“This was an incredible and memorable experience for everyone,” said Stacey Allred, ’95 MS ’01, associate lecturer of Elementary Education at Ball State. “For some of the children, it was their first time at an airport and seeing a plane. Capt. Irving was engaging, kind, enthusiastic, and attentive.”
Camp Adventure and Camp Achieve—Ball State’s annual five-week Summer social skills autism day camp for children 6-12 years of age—are both offered at no cost and provide campers a distinctive and exceptional learning experience in contrast to typical, high-cost Summer camps that focus more on childcare rather than education.
For Ball State’s students majoring in Education, the outdoor settings provide real-word, relevant, hands-on lessons they can eventually take with them to their own classrooms.
“Instead of just lecturing about erosion, our students can take children to the pond to see it first-hand. Or, when learning about plants, students can go on nature walks or visit the camp garden. When learning about animals, a scent station and hunting cameras can be set up and can be checked daily for animal activity,” Ms. Allred said. “It teaches our Ball State students to be creative and resourceful, and how to make learning for children engaging and applicable to their lives.”
Camp Adventure and Camp Achieve are just two of many Teachers College programs that provide significant value to schools in Muncie and around the state. Others include:
- The award-winning Schools Within the Context of Community program, where Ball State students are immersed in a historically Black neighborhood in Muncie for a semester. They partner with community mentors and work with diverse children and families both in and outside of school.
- Urban Immersion in Indianapolis, where students are immersed in the community in Wayne Township, working closely with area teachers.
- Civic Renewal through Education for Agency, Tolerance, and Engagement (CREATE)—an innovative approach to instruction, student learning, and professional development in civics, that integrates American history, geography, government, and media literacy. A Ball State team is creating extensive class resources and monthly professional development for teachers, a symposium with national experts, and a Civic Learning Academy for both teachers and students.
- A first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program in the nation that will support the teacher pipeline in Indiana. Students can enroll in the five-year program beginning their junior year of high school and can graduate a year early having earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education from the University.
This kind of community-engaged learning is what sets Ball State apart from other teacher preparation providers, according to Teachers College Dean Dr. Anand Marri.
“At Ball State, our education students can be active in the community from the very first semester,” Dean Marri said. “This community-engaged learning supports the development of ‘community teachers’ who contribute to and participate in a collective will to make educational equity a reality for all children.
“Community involvement isn’t just about serving our neighbors. The benefits are mutual,” he continued. “These experiences can provide students with opportunities to grow through real-world learning.”
That’s why the educators who come from institutions like Ball State are the “real heroes,” according to Capt. Irving.
“Yeah, I get to show off and meet the kids—and yes, my team gets to work with them. But the real heroes are the folks who create the types of educational experiences that inspire and motivate kids in the classroom,” he said.