Posted by: Kallie Sulanke on Jun/5/2019

Traveling Together: Foundation Joins Community-wide Collaboration

Following the 2018 landmark decision by the Indiana Legislature that gave Ball State University control of Muncie Community Schools, The Community Foundation set out to identify a way to expand support for teachers and students to meet needs related to this new partnership. Funders from across the community came forward to support the partnership with funding and programs that supported the community’s largest public school system.

The Foundation Board of Directors established the Successful Schools Fund. The fund includes an investment of up to $200,000 over the next three years into a new program that will provide funding for teacher professional development. In order to commit to the improvement of the transitioning school district and the new partnership with Ball State, the program will be open to teachers at Muncie Community Schools only for its first three years.

Foundation staff worked closely with Muncie Community Schools’ teachers and administrators and Ball State University to ensure that the program meets the most pressing needs of the students and will have a lasting impact on teachers. Teachers will be able to access funds for professional development through the Successful Schools Fund. In the summer of 2019, approximately 40 teachers will receive training in the Orton Gillingham reading method which will be funded through the Successful Schools Fund. The trainer training and the subsequent system-wide training will be funded through the Successful Schools Fund.

This program continues the Foundation’s long history of support to Muncie Community Schools. Through competitive grantmaking, Robert P. Bell Education Grants, designated grantmaking, and scholarships supporting students graduating from Muncie Community Schools, The Community Foundation has made grants totaling more than $2 million to Muncie Community Schools since 1988. Since 2000, more than $50,000 went directly to teachers to provide creative and innovative classroom projects for their students.


John Marsh

In 2018, The Community Foundation launched the Robert P. Bell Creative Teaching Award to recognize innovation in the classroom. The award was established to complement the Robert P. Bell Education Grants program and honor teachers who have gone above and beyond to use creativity and innovation to enhance learning by their students. The annual program rewards, recognizes, and encourages extraordinary educators who have applied for, received, and executed a Robert P. Bell Grant from The Community Foundation in their classroom.

John Marsh, a history teacher at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, received the inaugural award. John was nominated by Indiana Academy’s Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Jeff Smith, for his execution of three recent Robert P. Bell Education Grants. In May of 2018, for example, Marsh led his students to recreate three important historical caves along with art to establish an exhibit called the “Cave of Time.” The Bell Grant was used to build the set and create the artifacts within the caves. As part of the project, students wrote scripts to be used to lead tours for several hundred students and Muncie community members.

John was selected for the Robert P. Bell Creative Teaching Award because he has demonstrated a commitment to education through creative and innovative projects in his classroom. This was illustrated by his well-developed projects funded through the Robert P. Bell Education Grants and his desire to extend the subject matter learned by students to the community at-large. The award also included a $1,000 grant to Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities to be used by John Marsh in his classroom.

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