Secretary addresses Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients
By Eliza Guion—
MUNCIE, IN — On May 23, Ball Brothers Foundation hosted a reception honoring the foundation’s 2023 Excellence in Teaching Award winner and finalists. Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner was a guest speaker for the evening.
In addition to attending the reception, Dr. Jenner spent the day with Ball Brothers Foundation staff, visiting several local schools. The group toured West View Elementary, home to Muncie Community School’s lauded “Dual Language” Spanish immersion program. The program, which begins in kindergarten, immerses students in the Spanish language for 50-80% of the school day and allows students to become proficient in reading and writing in both English and Spanish. As Muncie Community Schools continues to transform through a historic partnership with Ball State University that has gained national attention, the dual language program stands as a distinctive offering in the region.
The group also spent time at Burris Laboratory School. Burris is one of approximately 100 laboratory schools across the world that are associated with colleges and universities. Laboratory schools have a commitment to developing new educational models, incubating new ideas, and providing a space for pre-service teachers to receive training. Burris’ innovative environment, diverse student body, and small-school atmosphere make it an attractive option for local families.
Ball Brothers Foundation continues to be committed to strengthening public school education in the heart of Muncie’s central city. “We recognize that both Burris Laboratory School and Muncie Community Schools play a pivotal role in K-12 education innovation, not only locally but also at a state and national level too,” said Ball Brothers Foundation President and CEO, Jud Fisher.
Dr. Jenner also joined foundation staff in visiting Daleville Community Schools to see the district’s Outdoor Learning Lab. Ball Brothers Foundation provided initial funding to help support the lab’s creation in 2014 through an Excellence in Teaching Award given to teacher Julian Ravenscroft. Over the past decade, the lab has transformed into a vibrant center of activity and learning used by the district’s K-12 students. It includes an apple orchard, nature play elements, an outdoor performance stage, a pizza kitchen, and more. A new grant awarded by Ball Brothers Foundation’s board in May 2023 is supporting the construction of restrooms and an indoor shelter in case of inclement weather. The visit to Daleville Community Schools also included the opportunity to see the district’s robust Project Lead the Way offerings that provide hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering, and math.
“When visiting schools in Delaware County, I observed everything from a dual language immersion program, to innovative outdoor learning spaces, to hands-on STEM education, all of which supported their students in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to find their best path,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “As students shared what they loved most about school, nearly every time, it was a teacher who topped their list. Delaware County is fortunate to have Ball Brothers Foundation and their long-standing commitment to supporting K-12 schools through their time and investments, celebrating the community’s most remarkable teachers, and ultimately, helping more students succeed in the classroom and beyond.”
“Ball Brothers Foundation is proud to be an advocate and cheerleader for schools across Delaware County,” reflected Jud Fisher. “There is remarkable innovation happening in local schools. Teachers in this community are providing best-in-class, hands-on learning opportunities that undoubtedly rival other districts across the state. Ball Brothers Foundation was proud to showcase just a few schools this week, and we look forward to inviting Dr. Jenner to visit again to see other districts across the county.”
To learn more about Ball Brothers Foundation’s Excellence in Teaching Award, including eligibility requirements and previous years’ winners, visit ballfdn.org/excellence-in-teaching-award.
About Ball Brothers Foundation
Ball Brothers Foundation is one of the state’s oldest and largest family foundations. In 2022, the foundation paid out $10 million in grants to support arts and culture, education, the environment, health, human services, and public affairs. The Muncie-based private foundation gives priority to projects and programs that improve the quality of life in the foundation’s home city, county, and state.