UIndy network helps Jacob Weisenbach ’17 ‘pay it forward’

Building community connections could well be the defining career principle for Jacob Weisenbach ’17 (M.A., educational leadership). A graduate of the University of Indianapolis’ nationally recognized iLEAD program, Weisenbach was recently honored with the Outstanding Community Partner Award from the Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement for his work at Central Catholic School, where he served as assistant principal for the past three years. 

Jacob Weisenbach (M.A., educational leadership)

As Weisenbach prepares to take on a new role with Indianapolis Public Schools as a special education specialist at Arsenal Technical High School, he reflected on ways the iLEAD program prepared him for success.

“I really enjoyed the concept of the iLEAD program for its hybrid nature. I got an in-depth experience working with other dedicated educators and that cohort mentality of working together to solve problems, having actual dialogue in front of people and working to better prepare ourselves to serve our schools immediately through the program,” Weisenbach said.

Weisenbach worked at Wayne Township Schools as an inclusion teacher in special education while he completed the iLEAD program at the University of Indianapolis, then went on to serve as assistant principal at Central Catholic. In his new role, he will serve inclusion teachers at Arsenal Tech.

With the iLEAD program, Weisenbach said he was able to leverage broad experience to grow his overall leadership skills. 

“It takes a great partnership between myself and the student, the school I was working at – Bridgeport Elementary – and the University, to allow for the flexibility to take on new leadership activities and even to step outside of my role as a teacher and take part in opportunities at different levels,” he said.

Weisenbach grew up close to UIndy on Brill Road near Hanna Ave., attending St. Roch Catholic Church and school. When the time came for college, he felt that the UIndy campus was a little too close to home and opted for IUPUI. After serving nine years with the Army National Guard, including tours in Baghdad and the United States, he was ready to own his calling to become a teacher. Encouraged by his wife, Natalie, also a UIndy alum, he came to appreciate the opportunities that awaited him at UIndy.

“I really found my love for that great university that was in my backyard the whole time. It was like an undiscovered treasure I knew about!” he said.

The Weisenbach name may be familiar to the Greyhound community. Jacob Weisenbach’s aunt, Lynne Weisenbach, was the first executive director of the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL), serving from 2001 to 2008, and helped pen the Center’s name, which highlights the model of transformative partnerships that are reshaping education in Indiana.

“That sense of community was always there for me,” said Weisenbach. He noted that even outside of those family connections, “the University does a great job to create and cultivate these relationships.”

Weisenbach would continue to build his UIndy network while at Central Catholic, thanks to introductions by RightFit, an after-school program partnership between the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Notre Dame ACE Academies. RightFit introduced Weisenbach to Marianna Foulkrod, director of the Center for Service-Learning & Community Engagement at UIndy, leading to opportunities for UIndy students to serve in a variety of roles. 

“Jacob has been exceptional in working with our students and faculty to create service-learning experiences that connect them with UIndy’s mission of education for service,” said Marianna Foulkrod. “We are excited to see where these new relationships will take us.”

Central Catholic is now an official community partner with UIndy, and Weisenbach was recently recognized for those efforts with the Outstanding Community Partner Award. He noted that having that close partnership already in place was key to navigating the challenges of the pandemic.

“Central Catholic was one of the few places striving for a safe, in-person connection even through the bumpy waters of 2020 and 2021. For students seeking the opportunity, they were able to come to us and we were able to conduct the program in a safe manner,” Weisenbach explained.

As Weisenbach steps into his new role at Arsenal Tech, he is eager to grow his connections with the Center for Service-learning & Community Engagement.

“I’m sure there will be opportunities at a larger campus, and I’m curious to see how we can expand the role of service and leadership at Tech,” he said. 

Weisenbach appreciates the UIndy students who have built connections with Central Catholic. In many cases they return to become coaches, check in on the students and attend their graduations.

“The connections we make, and the time and service we build together, help to foster and create this sense of community throughout,” Weisenbach said. “The opportunity to become educational neighbors really enhances the spirit of what you’re doing. The work that we do is the business of teaching and learning, but the connections that we make are where we get our joy and fulfillment in our missions.”

Talented Trio of Visual Arts Educators (Class of 2021)

The University of Indianapolis School of Education nominated three very talented visual arts educators from the graduating Class of 2021 to be featured in a senior spotlight. Learn about Ashley Andry, Avery Miller, and Nicole Hopf:


Ashley AndryAshleyAndry

  • Major – Visual Arts Teaching (K-12)
  • Graduating – May 2021

Extracurriculars – I have been in Kappa Delta Pi for two years and served as the membership chair for two semesters

Next steps – I plan to teach art at a school in Indy. I haven’t found a job yet, but am excited for what the future holds!

My UIndy mentor – Mindy Stephenson. Mindy is my university supervisor, a fellow art educator, and my biggest help through junior block and student teaching. She has been a consistent guiding light and has helped me to answer my most difficult questions about becoming a teacher! Throughout the last two years, Mindy has shown me incredible support and done an amazing job in helping me to use all of my education knowledge and apply it to my specific content area. I couldn’t have done this without her!

My favorite thing about UIndy – The way that my professors have invested in my college career. The small class sizes and individualized support have helped me to grow immensely. I can tell that my professors truly care about me and my success and do everything in their power to help me to become a great teacher myself!

Advice for incoming freshmen – Ask all the questions they can. I can’t tell you how afraid I was to ask for help in my first three (!!!) years of college. Everyone is so understanding and just wants to help you be confident in the knowledge that you possess, so don’t be afraid to send that panic-induced email in the ungodly hours of the night. Your professors will do their absolute best to help you get where you need to be!


Avery MillerAvery Miller

  • Major – Visual Arts Teaching (K-12)
  • Minor – Spanish
  • Graduating – August 2021 (walking in the May ceremony)

Extracurriculars – Involved in Kappa Delta Pi (treasurer for 1 year)

Next steps – I plan to teach elementary or middle school art in Nashville, TN.

My UIndy mentor – Dr. Ridgway and Mindy Stephenson have helped make the most of my education here at UIndy. Always answering my questions, and positively building me up when needed.

My favorite thing about UIndy – I love the abundant resources at UIndy like the ProEdge center, and college-specific resources, along with the professor’s attention to students.

Advice for incoming freshmen – Make the most of every year. Don’t think “I just want to be done,” or “I wish I was just a senior already” because you’ll never get to be in an environment and experience like UIndy again.


nicole hopfNicole Hopf

  • Major – Masters in the Arts of Teaching; Art Education
  • Graduating – May 2021

Extracurriculars – Involved with the Board of Clinical Partnership Academy on campus

Next steps – I am currently employed at Cedar Elementary in Avon as their Visual Arts teacher teaching K-4.

My UIndy mentor – Mindy Stephenson was my student teaching coach/mentor and she was so helpful in lesson ideas, modifications, and suggesting activities that helped me grow as an educator. Also, the undergrad art education majors, specifically Avery Miller, have been a soundboard for lesson ideas as well.

My favorite thing about UIndy – Committed and understanding teachers who teach with a welcoming attitude, just as they tell us to. They are very flexible which has emphasized how important that is to all students.

Advice for incoming freshmen – Work hard! Listen to your educators as they are practicing what you are learning and you can see firsthand why it is important to accommodate all. Be in a constant stream of communication with your professors, they want to help you!

Learn more about UIndy’s School of Education

Senior spotlight: Zachary Smith ’21

ZachSmith Class of 2021, SOEZachary Smith is the president of the Catholic Student Association at the University of Indianapolis. He’s also the creator and leader of the young adult community at Holy Name Parish in Beech Grove.

After graduating this May with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education (concentrations in mild interventions and reading), he looks forward to a future that combines these skills and passions.

“I intend to enter the field of ministry with a focus on explaining the teachings of the Catholic Church to young adults and children, and in whatever capacity I can. Youth ministry is my first step, though!”

UIndy’s School of Education prepared Smith for his career by training him to teach and simultaneously learn from others. 

“Regardless of the role I go into, the ability to listen to other people and communicate a concept to someone who doesn’t quite grasp it will be beneficial. I’m lucky enough to have been taught how to do that from the School of Education,” he said. 

When Smith needed help affording the cost of college expenses, he received financial assistance through UIndy to continue his education. 

“I’ve been blessed and deeply honored to receive scholarships that sustain me financially, especially during this difficult time. Without these immensely beneficial packages, college, as I know it now, would not be possible.” 

Smith, who is also a member of the executive board for the Student Education Association, enjoys UIndy’s small campus, where “the students know the faculty on a deep, personal level and that makes the educational experience so much better.”

“Each and every professor that I’ve had the pleasure of studying under has been a tremendous help in my development, but I particularly want to thank Dr. Angelia Ridgway,” he said. “She was so incredibly kind to everyone who entered her door. As a transfer student, she was one of the first professors I had and was just such a welcoming, kind individual.”

His advice to incoming freshmen?

“Be yourself. One of the most difficult parts of being a freshman is figuring out where you fit in or belong. Don’t worry about that. Eventually, you’ll find your place, but you’ll only find the right place by staying true to what makes you unique. Grow, develop, and become a better person, but don’t ever pretend to be something you’re not because you want people to like you.”

School of Education adapts to e-learning

Thanks to faculty support and innovation, students in the School of Education are gaining valuable technical skills that are sure to come in handy in the age of e-learning. Here are a few examples of adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Dr. John Somers and Dr. Nancy Steffel have been working with partner school districts (MSD Decatur Township and MSD Perry Township) to support their students and teachers as they transition to e-learning. In turn, they are showing elementary education students how to create lessons on their respective learning management systems.

School of Education is making use of online resources in times of pandemic.

Dr. Somers is teaching ELED 202: Universal Design for Learning: STEM to sophomore students. He is working with four fourth-grade teachers at West Newton Elementary in Decatur Townships who are now using Zoom to connect with the class. Collaboratively, they are building a kid-friendly lesson and a teacher lesson (“How to Build a Mars Land Rover”) with tiers for students with low, medium and high readiness. These lessons will be posted and returned on Canvas, Decatur’s Learning Management System.

Zoom Chat with the School of Education

Dr. Steffel is teaching EDUC 336: Teaching Literacy in the Intermediate Grades to juniors. She is leading an exercise that involves having the students create mini-video lessons and post them for fourth graders at Blue Academy in Decatur Township. She is using Zoom in her class daily and the students are posting their lesson on Canvas, Decatur’s Learning Management System. Greyhounds are being asked to consider the production value of their videos in addition to the content of the lesson.

 

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Dr. Angie Ridgway and her son Nate Ridgway ’14 (history and special education), co-authors of Don’t Ditch That Tech, have been offering support for K-12 teachers from across the country related to their need to transition to remote learning and remote teaching. They are offering virtual office hours and additional conference presentations, in addition to resource materials on their blog (teachingfromtheridge.com).

Ditch That Text hard cover book.

School of Education adapts to e-learning

pencilnecklace

Thanks to faculty support and innovation, students in the School of Education are gaining valuable technical skills that are sure to come in handy in the age of e-learning. Here are a few examples of adaptations during the COVID-19 pandemic:

John Somers and Nancy Steffel have been working with partner school districts (MSD Decatur Township and MSD Perry Township) to support their students and teachers as they transition to e-learning. In turn, they are showing elementary education students how to create lessons on their respective learning management systems.

School of Education is making use of online resources in times of pandemic.

Somers is teaching ELED 202: Universal Design for Learning: STEM to sophomore students. He is working with four fourth-grade teachers at West Newton Elementary in Decatur Townships who are now using Zoom to connect with the class. Collaboratively, they are building a kid-friendly lesson and a teacher lesson (“How to Build a Mars Land Rover”) with tiers for students with low, medium and high readiness. These lessons will be posted and returned on Canvas, Decatur’s Learning Management System.

Zoom Chat with the School of Education

Steffel is teaching EDUC 336: Teaching Literacy in the Intermediate Grades to juniors. She is leading an exercise that involves having the students create mini-video lessons and post them for fourth graders at Blue Academy in Decatur Township. She is using Zoom in her class daily and the students are posting their lesson on Canvas, Decatur’s Learning Management System. Greyhounds are being asked to consider the production value of their videos in addition to the content of the lesson.

Angie Ridgway and her son Nate Ridgway ’14 (history and special education), co-authors of Don’t Ditch That Tech, have been offering support for K-12 teachers from across the country related to their need to transition to remote learning and remote teaching. They are offering virtual office hours and additional conference presentations, in addition to resource materials on their blog (teachingfromtheridge.com).

book

 

 

Making the most of makerspaces

professors use makerspace

When John Kuykendall began his tenure as the dean of the University of Indianapolis School of Education, the idea of housing a makerspace on campus had been in development for several years. Launching the School of Education makerspace would become one of Kuykendall’s priorities during his first year. 

The School of Education makerspace was inspired by the notion that today’s teachers must have the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare PK-12 students for an innovation-driven economy. Makerspaces compel teachers to deliver content through “learning by doing,” immersing students in real-world projects that foster deep learning and understanding. A makerspace is a space where students can gather to create, invent and learn. Education makerspaces are housed on campus and allow people to share resources and collaborate and allow teachers to provide a “lab” where they can apply the lessons that are already occurring within the classroom. They combine education with a “do it yourself” strategy.

Last fall, the School of Education’s makerspace began operation, with programming that largely focuses on STEM fields, but is available to use in any way that professors and students can find to fit the curriculum. Ultimately the makerspace will help equip teachers with new skill sets that enable complex thinking, problem-solving, designing, collaborating, communicating and creating for today’s 21st-century student. 

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“It was a connected effort within the University to get all this done,” Kuykendall said. He noted the efforts of Deb Sachs, assistant professor of education, who helped coordinate funding from a STEM education grant.

The University’s makerspace was aided in design by Indianapolis-based 1stMakerSpace, which builds and sustains in-school makerspaces. They partner with school districts to provide students with standards-based hands-on learning experiences to complement classroom learning strategies. The goal of these makerspaces is to inspire an authentic, rigorous and motivational environment by fostering creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

“1stMakerSpace challenged us to come up with ideas how the makerspace could be used in all of the courses that we teach,” Kuykendall said. “We don’t want to pigeonhole the faculty and think that the pedagogy has to be centered around the sciences. As more faculty learn how to use it, they can begin to use it more and more often for a variety of lessons.” 

The makerspace provides an added educational layer where students can actually manipulate a problem with their hands and eyes rather than only trying to visualize a solution. 

“We’re very excited about it. It will allow students to see, apply and practice what they’re learning,” Kuykendall said. “There’s often more than one way to solve a problem. Makerspaces allow the open creativity to do that. They allow for more communication and can become collaborative pieces of learning.”

professors use makerspace

Kuykendall said housing a makerspace within the School of Education puts UIndy “ahead of the game” in offering students more resources to be successful should they end up in a school system that utilizes makerspaces.

Even though the makerspace on campus is still in its beginning stages, Kuykendall is already focused on ways in which the program will grow. “We want to continue to develop it year after year and keep growing the tools inside the space,” he said, “As more students and faculty use it that will help us envision how it will grow.” Kuykendall also envisions hosting workshops and professional development opportunities for local schools.

“Ultimately, we want programming that will help our students to interact with their future students,” he said.

Inquiries about the availability of the makerspace can be directed to School of Education Graduate Programs Administrative Assistant Rhonda Helterbrand (helterbrandr@uindy.edu) who is in charge of the scheduling and organization and management of the makerspace.

Volunteerism lays groundwork for teaching career

Erika Hoffman leads tripYou never know when saying ‘yes’ to a volunteer opportunity on a whim can help determine what you’ll do with the rest of your life.

Erika Hoffmann ‘21 (elementary education, with concentrations in mild intervention and reading) started volunteering at Creekside Elementary School in 2016, when she was a senior at Franklin Community High School.

At the time, she had no intention of becoming a teacher, but after a few months working with the kids, she discovered how much she enjoyed helping them learn and grow.

I was at Creekside every single day for a few hours,” she said. “One of my main goals in life is to help others, and I realized that the classroom is where I am most comfortable and where I feel like I am changing lives.”

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“It’s those little moments when a kid has been struggling with something and then you explain it in a different way and their face just lights up because they finally understand it – that’s when I know I’m doing something right.”

When Hoffman transitioned to the University of Indianapolis, her previous volunteer experience and strong relationships at Creekside continued to pay off: she was invited by Sarah Records, a first grade teacher at Creekside, to come back and see how the beginning of the year works from a teacher’s standpoint.

“Student teachers usually come into a classroom that is already running, rules are in place, and expectations are set,” Records said. “You don’t get to see how all of that is created or built, so for her to be with me on day one and see how those routines are established was really good for her.”

Hoffman is in the classroom with Records about three days each week, leading small group instructions, pulling kids for remedial help, aiding in testing sessions, and building relationships with the kids.

“I’m only a freshman and have taken just a few elementary education classes,” she said. “I truly feel that I have gained most of my knowledge and experience from being in Creekside on a regular basis. The hands-on experience is giving me the best opportunity to learn.”

Hoffman’s networking skills are also creating new opportunities for partnerships between the University’s School of Education and local schools. At Hoffman’s suggestion, Records brought a group of 105 first-graders to campus for a tour in April 2018.

Hoffman tripKids from Records’ class leapt off the school bus and threw themselves into Hoffman’s arms, vying for her attention and shouting excitedly while she tried to instill order on the squirming mass of students.

The kids were divided into three groups, each led by education students, including Hoffman. They visited the Krannert Memorial Library, the Schwitzer Student Center, and an elementary education class, where they participated in an activity with future educators and gave their opinions of what makes a good teacher.

“Getting children acquainted with the idea of attending college gives them a goal and something to look forward to after high school. It gives them a ‘when I go to college’ not ‘if I go to college’ mentality,” Hoffman said.

IMG_1681 (1)Records says she’s already started thinking about how to make the trip even better next year.

“Given what I saw from the students selected to lead us, and with the interaction and communication I have had with [UIndy faculty], I would love to continue working with UIndy and its education department.”

She’s also excited to continue mentoring Hoffman toward a career as a teacher.

“Erika has such a big heart and really cares about the kids both in and out of the classroom.  These skills are the basis of being a good teacher – investing in kids, building relationships, and nurturing them to be better versions of themselves.  I have no doubt that Erika will make a great teacher one day!”

Learn more about School of Education programs at the University of Indianapolis.

 

Campus collaborations: Power of Education conference

The University of Indianapolis Student Education Association will host the fourth annual Power of Education conference on campus Saturday, February 3.

The event is open to education students throughout the state. Topics of discussion are designed to motivate and inspire future K-12 teachers and provide professional development opportunities for attendees.

lyndsy_eslinger_education_16157

Eslinger teaches second graders at Reagan Elementary.

Conner McNeeley, a Southport High School Spanish teacher and recipient of the 2017 Teach Like A Champion Award, will deliver the keynote speech. During three sets of breakout sessions, University faculty and industry experts will share strategies for increasing student engagement and producing positive results in the classroom.

“This conference was designed for students, by students,” said Lyndsy Eslinger ‘18 (elementary education), co-chair of the Power of Education planning committee. “As we were planning the event, we thought about what topics we enjoy hearing about.”

Sessions will include:

  • “Engagement through Coding” with John Somers, associate professor of teacher education
  • “Creating Your Own Success” with Brittany Dyer, career navigator at the Professional Edge Center
  • “Dreams and Dreamers” with Donna Stephenson, University instructor of teacher education
  • “Encouraging Student Thinking And Engagement through Effective Questioning” with Deb Sachs, director of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship Program

The event is geared toward both elementary and secondary education majors.

“This conference is full of amazing professional development opportunities,” said Shelby Johnson, ‘18 (elementary education), Vice President of the University Student Education Association. “I feel confident that I will be ready for the real world after graduation because of the professional development, interview preparation, and networking that UIndy has given me.”

Power of Education
8:30 am – 12 pm
Saturday, February 3
Schwitzer Student Center

Registration is open until the day of the event, and cost ranges from $5 – $15. Learn more and register here.

Conference proceeds will be used to support the UIndy Student Education Association and Outreach to Teach. Outreach to Teach is an annual project that focuses on transforming a local K-12 school through painting, cleaning, landscaping, decorating, and light carpentry.

University students earn prestigious music education award

Hard work is paying off for two music education students from the University of Indianapolis.

Samantha Burkey, choral/general music education ‘18 and Maddie Kintner, instrumental/general music education ‘19, received the Outstanding Future Music Educator Award at the Indiana Music Education Association’s annual professional development conference in Ft. Wayne in January.

Burkey (left) and Kintner (right)

Burkey (left) and Kintner (right)

Burkey and Kintner are among an elite group of 18 University students to receive this award in the past 10 years. Burkey, who received news about the award a day into student-teaching, said the news was reassuring, because it let her know she’s doing something great in the world of music education.

Through her classes, Kintner has logged at least 95 hours in immersive learning opportunities at regional band camps, in private lessons and in local middle school classrooms. She credits these experiences for helping her grow personally and professionally.

“It’s one thing to learn from a book, but it’s completely different to use methods in real-life settings,” she said. “My professors constantly encourage us to be out in the field learning.”

Burkey, who has shadowed and student-taught at four local schools and volunteered with College Mentors for Kids, echoed that sentiment.

“Starting freshman year, we go out in the field and observe elementary, middle school and high school classrooms,” she said. “Those placements gave me a lot of confidence and comfort. I’m learned many different teaching methods that I’m holding onto in my bag of tricks.”

To qualify for the award, students needed to demonstrate participation in their local NAfME chapter, academic rigor, and significant contributions to music education.

University student-teachers impact up to 700 Indianapolis Public Schools students every year by assisting teachers in classrooms. In 2017, the University chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) was recognized for its community outreach efforts to bring future music educators into classrooms.

Kinter said the University helped her discover one of her true passions: helping students who have disabilities. One of her favorite experiences has been giving private cello lessons to a seven-year-old boy who is deaf and blind. She’s spent about 20 hours with him so far, and will resume lessons this spring.

“He can’t hear music, but he can feel the vibrations,” she explained. “When I helped him start bowing on his own, everyone in the room started crying. I’ve changed his life quite a bit, but I think he’s changed my life even more.”

Learn more about UIndy’s music education program. 

UIndy sweeps state level education awards

L to R: Molly Beal, recognized as an Outstanding Senior Leader, Molly Wolfe, recognized as ISEA scholar, current ISEA President Mikaela Gerba from Trine University, and Lyndsy Eslinger, newly elected ISEA President and J.D Miller Outstanding Local Student Leader Award winner

L to R: Molly Beal, Molly Wolfe, current ISEA President Mikaela Gerba, and Lyndsy Eslinger, newly elected ISEA President

The University of Indianapolis Education program enjoyed a stellar weekend at the Indiana State Education Association.

Junior elementary education major Lyndsy Eslinger was elected state president of the association at the annual representative assembly. Molly Wolfe, also a junior elementary education major, was re-elected to a second term as the state’s Region 3 Representative.

Senior Elementary Education majors Molly Beal and Andria Shook won scholarships, as did Molly Wolfe. Eslinger was awarded the J.D. Miller Student Leadership Award, and Beal was named the Outstanding Senior of the Year. Also at the event, UIndy was named the Outstanding Chapter of the Year.

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