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College of Education

Our Lab Schools

Transforming Local P-12 Learning

Butler is investing in our neighborhood's public education, providing innovative project-based learning for local P-12 students. The IPS/Butler University Laboratory Schools (60 and 55) and Shortridge High School: An IB World School operate as partnerships between Butler and the Indianapolis Public Schools district. Our College of Education faculty teach methods courses in all settings. Other Butler colleges lead school projects in science, ecology, theatre, creative writing, multicultural awareness and other subjects.

Butler's collaboration with a public school district is designed to improve local high school completion rates, and serve as a national model for advancing successful learning and engaged citizens.  Additional partners representing foundations, corporations, individuals and the community also support these schools and their students.

IPS | Butler Partnership Lab School 60

Overview and History


In August 2010, Indianapolis Public Schools and Butler University signed an agreement to create the IPS/Butler University Laboratory School, a public magnet elementary school housed in the district's William A. Bell School No. 60, 3330 N. Pennsylvania Ave. The school opened one year later for kindergarten and grade 1; adding a grade each year until ultimately the Lab School will serve grades K-8.

Led by Dean Ena Shelley, Butler College of Education (COE) helped design the Lab School concept, and has worked with IPS to oversee its curriculum and assessment development. The curriculum is inspired by the practices and inspirations of Reggio Emilia, an educational philosophy that Shelley has studied and helped introduce to numerous central Indiana schools.

Earlier, the COE and three local school districts interested in Reggio early education techniques formed the Indianapolis Reggio Collaborative. In 2009, the collaborative brought a traveling exhibit on Reggio education, "The Wonder of Learning: The Hundred Languages of Children," to Indianapolis for a six-month stay in the Indiana State House. The exhibit, and workshops and discussions based on it, inspired creation of the IPS/Butler Lab School.

Important Partners

Cooperate and community partners are integral aspects of the Lab School success.  For example, in 2011, Butler received a $100,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to allow St. Mary's Child Center to offer preschool for children ages 3-5 at the Lab School. Later that year, the Roberts Family Foundation provided a $150,000 grant, also supporting the preschool program.

In addition, students in a Butler course on educational leadership won grants from Dow and the National Gardening Association to develop an Edible Schoolyard project at Lab School, which includes a vegetable garden and three chickens.

Energized Early Learning

Problem solving and instruction infused with the arts and science are hallmarks of the curriculum at the Lab School.  Plus, it is truly a place to practice what we teach, for nearly all of the school’s hold Butler education degrees. This provides an optimal learning space for both the K-8 children in the building as well as preservice candidates in the College of Education to learn from and with each other.


November 3, 2015:  Stories of Impact: A Different Approach to Learning at Butler’s Lab School
July 8, 2015:  Insect Hotel in Indianapolis
January 30, 2016: Butler Lab School: Inspiring Children to Transform the World
October 20, 2016:  Member Voices: Listen to the Children
March 13, 2017:  Yoga Gives Lab School Students Time to Breathe
April 7, 2017:   Reggio Approach is a Success at Butler Lab School 60
August 24, 2017:  IPS, Butler Look to Replicate Successful Lab School
September 20, 2017:  IPS and Butler Plan to Create a Second Lab School (text and video)
No Mean City: Encouraging Inventiveness at Butler Lab School


SALT Project | Emmy award-winning production company
"I See: A Poem by Raki" (video)
"Kid Advice for the Next President" (video)
"The Hundred Languages" poem by Loris Malaguzzi (video)

IPS | Butler Partnership Lab School 55

Overview and History 


The IPS/Butler Lab School 55 opened in 2018.  It is named for the founder of the school that eventually became the Butler College of Education, Eliza A. Blaker, therefore making the selection of this school serendipitous.  Led by Dean Ena Shelley, Butler College of Education (COE) helped design the Lab School concept, and has worked with IPS to oversee its curriculum and assessment development. The curriculum is inspired by the practices and inspirations of Reggio Emilia, an educational philosophy that Shelley has studied and helped introduce to numerous central Indiana schools.  Teachers receive continued professional development from Butler, and the Lab Schools also serve as a classroom to current Butler education students.  Lab School 55 serves grades K-5 and has a capacity of about 300 students. The application and selection process is the same as Lab School 60.  

Press | Media

August 23, 2017:  With Another Butler Lab School in the Works, the North Side is Unofficially a Magnet Magnet
August 24, 2017:  IPS, Butler Look to Create 2nd Successful Lab School, Eliminate Student Waiting List 
September 27, 2017:  IPS and Butler Plan to Create a Second Lab School (text and video)
July 13, 2018:  Rebirth at School 55 
August 6, 2018:  Demand Prompts Second Lab School's Launch (text and video)
August 10, 2018:  Popularity, Success Spark Second IPS/Butler Lab School 
October 24, 2018 An Emerging Type of Learning in Central Indiana (podcast)

Shortridge High School: an IB World School

Overview and History


Located less than three miles south of the Butler campus, Shortridge High School: An International Baccalaureate World School, is a multi-dimensional collaboration that not only includes the College of Education, but also the Butler University community as a whole.

Shortridge High School began as an innovative educational force in Indianapolis.  It is one of the oldest, free public high schools in Indiana and opened in downtown Indianapolis in 1864.  Closed in 1981, and then used briefly as a middle school, the school underwent a major redesign as it transformed into a magnet high school in 2009, first centered on public policy and law and currently as an International Baccalaureate. 

Initial discussions on the redesign of Shortridge Middle School into a high school were held between Dr. Eugene G. White, former Superintendent of IPS and the late Dr. Bobby Fong, former President of Butler University.  In October of 2006, a steering committee was formed and led by Butler University’s Dean of the College of Education and IPS’ chief of Professional Development.  The committee met regularly and collaboratively defined a variety of key institutional benchmarks including the school’s mission and process for developing curriculum.

A unique aspect of the partnership has an on-going impact on the culture of both Shortridge and Butler.  Students at Shortridge who are academically ready can access college courses for credit at Butler while they are completing their high school requirements.  Students also have the opportunity to spend time on Butler’s campus participating in many programs, including a full day on campus during their “O Week” (orientation). 

A major advocate of the Shortridge initiative, former Butler President Bobby Fong believed that the partnership would generate concepts that help students transition smoothly from secondary to higher education, benefitting both the University and community. “We will pioneer ideas by which other universities and civic partners can advance public education outcomes,” he said. “We expect not only to improve high school completion rates among these students but also to prepare them to enter and graduate from college.”

Energized Learning

Rooted in the original steering committee’s commitment to collaboration, the curricular offerings at Shortridge continue to evolve through opportunities for co-teaching, professional development and site based University course offerings.  Because of the University wide nature of the partnership, faculty from multiple colleges and disciplines interact with the faculty and students of Shortridge.  Butler and Shortridge faculty have co-taught courses such as English, history and conflict resolution.  These collaborations provide multiple learning and teaching intersections for the educators and students involved.