IPS and Butler Collaborate on Innovative School Option
Friday, Aug. 13, 2010
Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene G. White and Butler University President Bobby Fong signed an agreement on Aug. 13 to launch a unique school with both laboratory and magnet school features. The IPS/Butler University Laboratory School eventually will serve students in Grades K-5 at the current William A. Bell School 60, 3330 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
Butler College of Education graduate Ronald W. Smith ’88, M.S.’96, will be principal of the school, when it begins operations in fall 2011. He will continue his work this year as principal of the Warren Early Childhood Center for the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township, Indianapolis. (Smith is pictured at far left with Fong, White and Ena Shelley.)
Butler and IPS faculty will collaborate in developing curricula, teaching and on-site educational research.
“With the IPS/Butler partnership already established at Shortridge Magnet High School, the University will further cement its ties with its northside Indianapolis neighbors, supporting students from preschool through completion of college degrees,” said Fong.
“IPS is pleased to collaborate once again with Butler University to offer an innovative educational choice for parents,” said White. “This new school will keep IPS on the cutting edge of educational options in an urban setting.”
Under the agreement, children of Butler employees may attend the Lab School if space is available, even if they reside outside of the district. “Butler personnel are happy to have this option for their children to attend school close to campus,” said Fong.
Butler College of Education (COE) Dean Ena Shelley helped design the new school concept, and will work with IPS to oversee its curriculum and assessment development. The curriculum will be largely based on the practices and inspirations of Reggio Emilia, an educational philosophy that Shelley has studied and helped introduced to central Indiana schoolsover the past 13 years.
The curriculum is characterized by real life problem-solving and numerous opportunities for creative thinking and exploration. Teachers observe and question children about a topic of interest and, based on children’s responses, introduce materials, questions and opportunities that provoke children to further explore the topic.
Children are encouraged to show their understanding through symbolic “languages” such as drawing, sculpture, dramatic play and writing. Parents are invited to be active members of the education team. The Reggio Emilia learning environment — filled with plants, natural light and easily accessible equipment for art and play — is designed to support creativity and community.
Shelley predicts the school’s innovative practices “will inform the teaching profession and possibly shape Indiana educational policy.”
IPS and Butler will jointly select and evaluate the school’s principals, and pay equal shares of that position’s salary. While the principal and all teachers will be IPS employees, the principal will also hold a non-tenure track faculty position in the Butler College of Education and be expected to teach and participate in research projects at the elementary school.
IPS/Butler University Laboratory School will begin operating in fall 2011 with the kindergarten and first grade classes. The program will grow a grade level each year up to Grade 5. Preschool classes may be a future option.
Butler’s College of Education will hold on-site courses at the school, allowing education majors to witness and put instructional theory to work. “Starting in freshman year, Butler education undergraduates will be in classrooms, seeing both IPS and Butler instructors model professional best practices,” Shelley said.
Contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
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