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Chuck Carney
School of Education
ccarney@indiana.edu
812-856-8027

Last modified: Thursday, May 31, 2007

Takin' it to the streets: School of Ed to partner with Indianapolis community agencies

First meeting held between agencies, School of Education Faculty at IUPUI

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 31, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A dozen Indianapolis community service agencies have begun the first step toward a formal partnership with the Indiana University School of Education at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. Representatives have met with School of Education faculty and plan a follow-up meeting later this summer to solidify a relationship that would allow agencies to draw on faculty expertise and school resources.

The idea came about after conversations between Monica Medina, a clinical faculty member in teacher education, and Bob Burgbacher, former longtime president and chief executive officer of Neighborhood Services of Central Indiana.

"This is the ideal place," Burgbacher said after the initial meeting at the School of Education at IUPUI. "Several of the faculty were here and shared things they can do," he added, noting in particular science and math education and professional development. "Every center has a little bit different need, but I'm sure that everybody got something today out of talking to the different staff members."

Medina said she thought of the partnership as a natural relationship. Before she joined the School of Education faculty she headed an Indianapolis community center and continues to work with the centers frequently. She said a partnership would benefit both the school and the agencies.

"I think it's going to be a reciprocal type of relationship," Medina said, "in that the School of Education will be able to begin to look at what is education outside of the school. Perhaps we'll gain a better, deeper understanding of the impact that community plays into education, and how we can help parents."

Burgbacher said he always struggled with assisting in community education. "I would work through IPS (Indianapolis Public Schools)," he said, "but we never had enough knowledge, or strength, to really help those schools as much as we needed to."

Medina, Burgbacher, and Khaula Murtadha, executive associate dean of the School of Education at IUPUI, plan to form a steering committee before another meeting in August. Some of the topics discussed in the initial meeting could become the focus of workshops held by members of the faculty.

Murtadha said the relationship between centers and the School of Education makes a lot of sense. "As we met and talked," she said, "we just immediately saw connections -- ways that informal learning, but very important learning, was going on in those community centers." Murtadha said the potential partnership would further the mission IUPUI and the School of Education. "Let us be the one that plants the seed, works with that seed and helps it nurture and grow, and out of that, something different will develop," she said.

Dean of the IU School of Education Gerardo Gonzalez said "strengthening partnerships with schools and communities is part of our School of Education strategic priorities on both the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses." He continued, "I'm delighted to see the leadership role our faculty at IUPUI are playing in this community education effort."

For the community centers, Burgbacher says the development could mean a new level of expertise. He said over the years, centers have struggled with issues of poverty and education. "We've always thought we had the answers," Burgbacher said. "But we found out really we just had the questions."

For more information, contact Chuck Carney at 812-856-8027 or ccarney@indiana.edu.

EDITORS: The following comments are available as mp3 files on the IU School of Education Website at http://education.indiana.edu/audio.html.

Executive Associate Dean of the IU School of Education at IUPUI Khaula Murtadha says her first meeting with Burgbacher helped her realize a partnership made sense:

"And said, 'you know, the Community Centers of Indianapolis would love to do some things with the School of Education.' And as we met and talked, we just immediately saw connections -- ways that informal learning, but very important learning, was going on in those community centers."

Murtadha says the partnership fits perfectly with the School of Education mission:

"We're saying in the School of Education, let us be the one that plants the seed, works with that seed and helps it to nurture and grow, and out of that, something different -- a hybrid, if you will -- will develop, that really is a larger thing than K-12 education or P-16. It's really about community engagement."

Former president and c.e.o. of Neighborhood Services of Central Indiana, Bob Burgbacher, says the effort is a way of bringing new thinking to the centers:

"The centers are now at the point where they all want to find a new way, maybe, of really impacting the lives of their families for self-sufficiency. And unanimously, they've all said it's education. And so, what we're doing now is bringing the school of education and center directors to develop a model of what you can do in the centers to promote education."

Burgbacher says he wants the School of Education partnership to allow center staff to discover new ways of working with parents of students to improve education:

"These directors deal mostly with students in very low income areas, what we call poverty or working poor. So that was -- and the other directors and people sitting at our table agreed -- this is something we have to learn how to do. We've always thought we had the answers, but we found out really we just had the questions."