BDU partners with UIndy to help potential teachers


staff report

Jayla Smith’s little brother was the spark that kindled her interest in becoming a teacher.

“He was born with epilepsy,” Jayla says, “and he was two years behind developmentally when he started school.”

Jayla told herself she wanted to help children like her brother. As she entered Ben Davis University High School (BDU), her desire to explore teaching continued to grow. She volunteered at Wayne Township Preschool, which shares a campus with BDU. This year, she is learning more about education through a new partnership between BDU and the University of Indianapolis (UIndy). That partnership has led to the creation of new courses in elementary and secondary education at BDU.

“We were very interested in attracting young, talented teachers into our school of education,” said Dr. John Kuykendall, Dean of the School of Education at UIndy. “One of the best ways to do that is to recruit students or enhance the abilities of students earlier than college.”

The new education courses are dual credit, and would be the first course that an education major at UIndy would take. The courses include 40 hours of field work, currently conducted virtually. Eventually, that field work will involve school visits both within and outside the MSD of Wayne Township. This will allow students to observe directly the instructional concepts taught in the courses.

Jayla is one of four students taking the elementary education course at BDU. Now a senior, she is particularly interested in special education, and plans to study it at Western Governors University. Her teachers at BDU, Lisa Stephens and Katie Smith, have helped solidify her intention to move forward with plans to become a teacher: “They are just very supportive.”

Luis Perez Gomez, also a senior at BDU, plans to attend Purdue University next year as a computer science major. He says teaching may be in his future, and so he is taking the secondary education course at BDU.

“I’m capable of teaching a lot of things,” Luis said. “I know how to play an instrument, Spanish is a language I know, and I enjoy learning about technology. Hopefully, this class will help me understand how to teach someone better.”

Crista Carlino, media specialist at BDU, is teaching the secondary education course. She tries to expose students such as Luis to content that relates to their interests.

“I was very intentional in making sure that yesterday we were able to observe a coding lesson and a middle-school orchestra teacher instructing her students,” Mrs. Carlino said, helping Luis connect to his interests in both computer science and music. “Our Wayne teachers have been so great in partnering with us to make sure we can make that a reality.”

The partnership between UIndy and BDU is an investment not only in students, but in the future of the teaching profession, said Dr. Kuykendall – particularly in creating a more diverse pool of teachers.

“Our world is becoming more and more diverse,” he said. “Our student population is becoming more and more diverse, and so it’s important for those students to see representatives of themselves in front of them as teachers. We were strategic about choosing Wayne for this partnership, because Wayne is a very diverse district.”

Next semester, the partnership with UIndy’s School of Education will expand to Ben Davis High School. And it may grow from there.

“We would like to expand this outside of the Indianapolis area to some of our more rural districts,” Dr. Kuykendall said. “But this is our first partnership and we’ve very excited about it.”