Issue 13

I. CREATE News and Updates

    Civics Day
    Muncie Public Library
    Indiana Civics Bee
    Teacher Spotlight: Rhonda Ward
    PGP Summary Letters
    MCHS Senior Trip to WDC, NYC
    Field Trips to Indianapolis
    The Oscar Goes to…Julie Snider!

II. Opportunities for Teachers and Students

    Featured Destination: Charles W. Brown Planetarium
    Upcoming Paid PD on Zoom: Philosophy for Children with Debi Talukdar
    PD Calendar
    Indiana Bar Foundation’s We the People Summer Institute
    Indiana Bar Foundation’s Civics that Empowers All Students
    Civics Trivia

III. Save the Date

    New American Dialogue
    Summer Civic Learning Academy
    Civic Learning Symposium

IV. Featured Resource

    Indiana University Center on Representative Government

CREATE News and Updates

2024 Civics Day at Muncie Central High School

Final plans are being made for the 2024 Civics Day at Muncie Central High School on Friday, April 19. Organized by MCS teacher Julie Snider, the day’s indoor and outdoor events will involve the efforts of dozens of MCHS teachers and several hundred students. Activities will include volunteering with businesses and non-profits, job shadowing, planting trees and flowers, cleaning up the school campus, creating voting buttons and a video campaign promoting civic engagement, an activism workshop, writing letters to elected officials, listening to presentations by Afghan classmates new to Muncie, examining maps and Census data with Citizen Math, a River Walk discussing local biosystems and local history, a discussion with a local judge, visits by elected officials, creating greeting cards for nursing home residents, a painted mural, and painted rocks of Encouragement, baking treats for an animal rescue, creating bird houses, creating upcycled journals and doing a Nature Walk, and watching the films Hidden Figures and Freedom Writers. CREATE will provide a recap of Civics Day 2024 in our May newsletter.

Muncie Public Library to Provide Civic Resources

CREATE is working with Youth Services and outreach staff at Muncie Public Library to plan an online Virtual Bookshelf of grade-appropriate resources that MCS teachers can access to support greater access to books, media, and databases related to government, history, media literacy, geography, critical thinking, and civic engagement. Muncie Public Library will also develop and design bookmarks showing appropriate resources for different age/grade levels. Youth Services staff now are focused on organizing MPL’s annual Summer Reading activities, and CREATE hopes that the new resources can be made available by the start of AY 2024-25.

Muncie Students Shine at Civics Bee

The community of Muncie gathered with pride at the Ivy Tech Fisher Building in Downtown Muncie on April 9th to support young scholars in the annual National Civics Bee. This competition, organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in partnership with local chambers, including the Greater Muncie Chamber of Commerce, focuses on fostering civic knowledge and engagement among middle school students.

Multiple students from Muncie Community Schools were represented at the event. A student at Northside Middle School, emerged as a finalist in the prestigious event. Faizan, previously a camper at the Summer Learning Fun at Camp Adventure, showcased his understanding of civics with an impressive performance. Braxton, another MCS student is now a finalist with an opportunity to compete at the State level.

The competition began with an essay contest where students addressed local community issues using their knowledge of civic principles. Selected finalists, including Faizan, then moved on to demonstrate their civics acumen in a quiz format. The top three from this local event will represent our community at the state level. The ultimate goal is to compete in the National Civics Bee Championship, where students from across the country will convene to test their knowledge and ability to apply civics in real-world scenarios.

CREATE supported student participation in the Civics Bee. This involvement underscores CREATE‘s commitment to developing informed, engaged future citizens who are equipped to contribute thoughtfully to their communities.

The event was well-attended by students, educators, and community members, all eager to support the participants and celebrate their achievements. The enthusiasm and support showcased at the event reflect a collective commitment to prioritizing civic education in the curriculum. We support the continued success of Indiana students.

The Greater Muncie Chamber of Commerce noted, “We had the honor of hosting the inaugural #NationalCivicsBee® in Delaware County. Adding, “Fourteen students joined us to compete for the opportunity to flex their civics knowledge and the opportunity to win cash prizes.”

Congratulations to Hunter from Delaware Community School Corporation, who took first place, followed by Noah from Daleville Community Schools, who received second place, and Braxton from Muncie Community Schools, who took home third place. Each student worked extremely hard, and we are proud of each of their efforts!

Thanks to the judges, Kelsey Harrington, Garrett Doan, and Brenda Brumfield, for their support and volunteering of their time. Katy Maggart, Director of Membership & Marketing for the Greater Muncie Chamber of Commerce also gave a shout-out to Dale Basham for being the event’s emcee, adding “We already can’t wait for next year!”

Teacher Spotlight: Rhonda Ward

This month CREATE highlights the work of Rhonda Ward, Assistant Director of the Muncie Area Career Center and Director of Diversity at MCS. Rhonda is the founder and Sponsor of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)/Diverse Cats Club at Muncie Central High School. During club meetings, students research and learn about various HBCUs. Demonstrating civic engagement by acting to benefit the less fortunate is important to Rhonda and Club members. During holidays, they make cards for special needs students at MCS and for the elderly in nursing homes. They also collect toys for pre-school students as well as food for the food insecure. “I feel civics is important for students because it leads them to be informed and engaged members of society,” Rhonda said. “It also helps them understand the importance of exercising their rights and knowing what those are and having a voice and being able to use that voice.” This academic year, Club members have participated in the Hamilton County HBCU Fair, attended the Center for Leadership Development College Prep Conference in Indianapolis, and traveled to HBCUs during a trip sponsored by Indiana Gear Up. Some Club members attended the Kings Feast in Indianapolis sponsored by the Bloom Project, which offers mentoring, college preparation, service learning, and character development. Other members explored Girlhood, Inc., an organization that empowers girls to be “confident in their own skin, prepared for their futures, proud of who they are, and ready to take their place in the world.” Rhonda also took Club members to see a dynamic performance of Step Afrika, an experience funded by CREATE and covered in its October 2024 newsletter. “I’m always looking for opportunities in our community and beyond to help shape and mold our students into the leaders and productive citizens they aspire to be one day,” Rhonda said. “I love to see students get out of their comfort zones, and I’m always encouraging them to try something new and get involved in activities that will increase their leadership skills and build their resumes.”

Professional Growth Points Summary Letters

CREATE will provide Letters for MCS teachers who have participated in professional development events. The Letters will document the date, title, number of hours, and number of PGPs for each PD opportunity completed. Teachers can use the Letters to support license renewal. CREATE expects to email letters to teachers by mid-May.

Muncie Seniors Experience Washington D.C., NYC, and Earthquake!

Sixteen Muncie High School seniors just returned from an unforgettable five-day trip to Washington D.C. and New York City, led by social studies teacher Jennifer Jensen. CREATE provided over $28,000 in financial support for the trip. The flight from Indianapolis to Baltimore marked the first airplane journey for several students. Over the first three days in Washington D.C., the group explored the Smithsonian Museums along the National Mall. The American History and Natural History museums were students’ favorite stops. The group also visited iconic monuments and war memorials including the Lincoln Memorial and White House. A guided tour of the Capitol Building highlighted the nation’s legislative history, and a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery provided a powerful concluding experience.

In New York City, “seniors got their first breathtaking view of the city from the One World Trade Center Observatory,” Jen said. “Hearing the awe from the students as they took in their first views of the skyline was the highlight of my trip!” The group completed a 10-mile walking tour of the city’s landmark sites, including the Financial District and the Charging Bull, Wall Street, the Stock Exchange, and Trinity Church. “The group paid their respects at the 9/11 Memorial, with a stop to see the name of Gary Lee Bright, a Southside High School Graduate, on the South Tower Memorial,” Jen said. After a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the students felt the April 10 earthquake while on Liberty Island! The group “reveled in the bright lights and shopping of Times Square” and enjoyed a Broadway performance of “Chicago.” The students said goodbye to NYC with strolls through Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and Grand Central Station,” Jen said.

Senior Dion Welch said “I really loved my 2024 senior trip. Everything we did was incredible and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. This trip really got everyone to get out of their comfort zone. Thank you Ms. Jensen and everyone else connected with this experience, it was one of the best times I’ve ever had in my life.” Jen agreed the trip provided “a wealth of historical insights but also allowed us to experience firsthand the vibrant spirit and rich culture of these great cities. From the hallowed halls of the Capitol to the shining lights of Broadway, each day was a new chapter in our adventure, leaving us with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime,” she said. “We have already begun our preparations to take the Class of 2025 next spring!”

MCS Explores Indiana’s Capital

Over the past several weeks, two MCS groups took field trips to Indianapolis to explore Indiana’s government, history, and cultural resources. On March 5, Muncie Central teacher Julie Snider led 70 high school students on a tour of the Indiana Statehouse that included the Governor’s Office, the House chamber, and the Supreme Court chamber. Students also met with State Representative Sue Errington and State Senator Scott Alexander. “The Senate was in session, so we saw a debate about current legislation that was going on in their chamber,” Julie said. “It was very exciting!”

On April 5, Northside Middle School Principal Ben Williams took 54 students from the NMS National Junior Honor Society and Principal Student Advisory Council to the Indiana Statehouse and Eiteljorg Museum. These student leaders relished the opportunity to see where Indiana laws are made. “The hope is to inspire these school leaders, who are young teenagers, to see a vision for their lives, where they too can be leaders for our community, state, and nation,” Principal Williams said. Their 90-minute tour of the Statehouse included the House and Senate chambers and the Indiana Supreme Court chamber, where a tour guide explained their rich history, architecture, and symbolism. In the House chamber, students emulated legislators in a “fierce” debate on the new Cell Phone Law, which allows school corporations to adopt policies to forbid the use of student cell phones in the classroom. Students left with a new appreciation for civics, democracy, and the “palpable responsibility of our lawmakers,” Principal Williams said. Students then visited the Eiteljorg Museum and its works showcasing the diverse cultures of Native America and the West through stories, historical context, artistic expression, and diverse perspectives. The trip underscored the essential “importance of taking students outside the four walls of a school building in order for them to interact in civics discussion,” Ben said. “Education should not just be a place, but an experience.”

CREATE was pleased to fund bus transportation for both trips.
The next several weeks will see several MCS field trips going to new and exciting destinations—watch for CREATE’s May newsletter to find out more!

And the Oscar Goes to…Julie Snider!

Muncie Central High School social studies teacher Julie Snider and her colleagues were recognized with an Oscar award by Muncie Delaware Clean and Beautiful at its Annual Dinner on Friday, April 12, for MCHS’s Earth Day Civics event in April 2023. MDCB’s Oscar is awarded to “individuals and organizations in our community that exemplify “beautification.” This can be, but is not limited to, volunteer service, taking care of property (home or business), managing a median, bringing awareness to a critical environmental need, artistic pursuits that enhance our community, and building or creating sustainable infrastructure.” Earth Day Civics involved over 30 teachers and 500 students in civic engagement projects that included planting native trees and flowers and litter removal on the MCHS campus. CREATE Project Director Donna Browne, a MDCB board member, made the nomination in recognition of both beautification and demonstrating to students the importance of caring for physical communities and the environment as a civic duty.

Opportunities for Teachers and Students

Featured Destination: Charles W. Brown Planetarium

Muncie’s own planetarium on the Ball State University campus hosted more than 20,000 visitors in 2023 with free presentations showing the wonders of our universe. It maintains a constantly changing schedule of shows as well as offers hands-on activity stations and experiments that connect students with Planetarium staff before and after the presentation. Teachers can book a free private show of approximately one hour between 9am-4:30pm during the BSU academic year. Grade-appropriate shows are described in its rich Show Library. Each show includes a friendly discussion with a trained science communicator and strives to align with science standards. Recent shows include:

    Magic Treehouse: Space Mission follows series characters Jack and Annie as they search for answers to a mysterious riddle with the help of a friendly astronomer.
    Sunset Meditation offers participants a guided meditation experience that includes “sunset as you travel from the Grand Canyon to the North Pole” followed by a simulated night sky filled with stars and the Northern Lights. Refreshments are provided.
    We Are the Stars asks “What are we made of? Where did it all come from? Explore the secrets of our cosmic chemistry, our explosive origins and connect life on Earth to the evolution of the Universe.”

The Planetarium also hosts an Astronomy Slam where in-person audience members watch 10-minute presentations by BSU students and vote in real time to determine winners of four different awards. Its YouTube channel hosts several short videos made by its Constellation Crew of BSU students.

Upcoming Paid Professional Development Session

Improve Critical Thinking, Discussion, and Logical Reasoning Skills with Philosophy for Children
How can teachers prepare students to be thoughtful citizens living in a complicated world? Join Debi Talukdar of the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization (PLATO) for this inquiry into creating an open environment for examining difficult topics thoughtfully and imaginatively. “Opportunities to discuss and reflect about larger philosophical issues provides an essential foundation for the ability to engage in society in active and responsible ways,” says Debi. “Far from telling students what to think, philosophical inquiry encourages students to develop independent thinking skills, learn together with their peers, and develop their own conclusions.” In “communities of inquiry,” students and teachers inquire together. Students generate their own questions about issues relevant to their lives and learn to give good reasons for their beliefs. Every student’s voice is valued and all views are taken seriously.

Students who engage with philosophy “perform better on tests that measure problem-solving skills, and once in college, receive some of the highest scores on tests including the GMAT, LSAT, and GRE, and demonstrate an increased likelihood to participate in civic engagement projects” says Sarah Vitale, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ball State University. “At the same time as students develop intellectual humility, they gain positive self-esteem, which is a mature confidence in one’s ability. Many studies have connected studying philosophy to socio-emotional growth, independent thinking, and positive self-esteem in children and adolescents.”

MCS teachers who participate in the session and complete a short survey will receive a $62.50 stipend.

When: Wednesday, April 18, 4:15-5:15 pm
Platform: Zoom


Professional Development Calendar

CREATE can provide funding for MCS teachers who attend professional development opportunities related to civics and history content and pedagogy.

Indiana Bar Foundation’s We the People Summer Institute

Over June 23-27, the Indiana Bar Foundation will hold a multi-day professional development workshop for elementary, middle, and high school educators who want to learn more about the We the People program. The We the People Summer Institute will be held at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs on the IU-Bloomington campus. Teachers will learn in-depth content and teaching strategies for important concepts you’ll be teaching in your government, history, or social studies classes. These topics will aid We the People teachers in presenting the curriculum and preparing for the simulated congressional hearing authentic assessments, a WTPSI focus. Participating teachers will receive:

    • Lodging and meals
    • Classroom set of We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution textbooks
    • Teacher library worth $75
    • 26 hours of professional growth points

Indiana Bar Foundation: Civics that Empowers All Students

Travel to Philadelphia for Civics that Empowers All Students, a week-long professional development workshop with virtual sessions continuing throughout the school year. The Summer Institute for 2024 will be a joint venture between Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. Participating teachers will come away with

    • Engaging pedagogy and academic content, centered on the highly effective We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum
    • A network of support and resources for engaging diverse student populations in the history, principles, and current application of the U.S. Constitution
    • Scholar guest speakers
    • Access to a library of professional development videos with noted scholars and practitioners cued to the curriculum
    • Free set of We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution textbooks and teacher’s guide
    • A stipend for completing program requirements

Requirements, eligibility for participation, and an informational booklet can be accessed here. Like CREATE, the CEAS project is funded by a Supporting Effective Educator Development Grant from the USDOE.

Civics Trivia

What was the first public library in colonial America, and which founding father was involved in its creation?
A.Boston Public Library, John Hancock (MA)
B. Library Company of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin (PA)
C. Lexington Town Library, John Adams (MA)
D. Williamsburg Town Library, Thomas Jefferson (VA)

It was a subscription library and supported by members.

(answer: B)

III.Save the Date

New American Dialogue on K-12 Education

The inaugural <a href="" rel="noopener" target=”_blank”>New American Dialogue on K-12 Education is scheduled for May 30 from 7-9 p.m. at Minnetrista. Moderated by Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust, this discussion will generate dialogue on responses to current issues in the education system and how educators can help this country “be all it can be” for all of its citizens. Local panelists include:

    • Jacquie Hanoman, Executive Director, Ross Community Center
    • Anand R. Marri, Ball State Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
    • Lee Ann Kwiatkowski, CEO of Muncie Community Schools
    • David Roof, Associate Professor at Ball State

Attendees are encouraged to review background literature available in a Platform Book which will be made available soon. Each New American Dialogue is presented by the Center for Citizen Impact housed at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, a think tank of scholars, policy experts, and innovators seeking to advance solutions to the world’s biggest problems. The Center conducts American Dialogue sessions on specific issues in cities around the country, supported by documents profiling views from varying points of view. CREATE will offer a $62.50 stipend to MCS teachers who attend this event.


Please join us in this groundbreaking event to move ideas into action for the betterment of K-12 education across the nation and in our communities.

Summer Civics Learning Academy 2024

Mark your calendars! This year’s 8-day Summer Civics Learning Academy is scheduled for Monday-Friday, June 17-18 and June 20-21 and Monday-Thursday, June 24-27 at the Ball State University Student Center. SCLA will focus on teaching strategies and resources for MCS elementary school educators. It will feature presentations by nationally recognized innovators and sessions led by local and community presenters. Wednesday, June 19, and Friday, June 28, are reserved as independent working days and will not have in-person sessions. MCS teachers who complete the program and a brief survey will receive a $3,000 stipend. Space is limited, and priority will be given to elementary teachers.

The 2024 SCLA schedule is filling up fast.


CREATE’s Annual Civics Symposium 2024

The, 2024 Civic Learning Symposium welcomes two keynote speakers who will inspire attendees to explore innovative ways of enhancing civic participation and foster democratic practices in our community.

On Friday, September 27, they keynote speakers will be Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, President Emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. He chaired the National Academies’ committee that produced the 2011 report Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. In 2012, President Obama selected Hrabowski to chair the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. His 2013 TED talk highlights the “Four Pillars of College Success in Science.” In 2022, Dr. Hrabowski was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and he was also named the inaugural ACE Centennial Fellow, to be served upon his retirement from UMBC. In Addition, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) also launched the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program ($1.5 billion) to help build a scientific workforce that more fully reflects our increasingly diverse country. In October 2022, he was named the inaugural Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture Speaker by Harvard. In April 2023, The National Academy of Sciences awarded him the Public Welfare Medal, the Academy’s most prestigious award, and inducted him as a member of the academy for his extraordinary use of science for the public good.

On Saturday, September 28, CREATE will welcome distinguished speaker Dr. Harry Boyte, whose history of service includes working directly with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and advising national initiatives on civic renewal. A renowned advocate for democracy and civic engagement, Boyte personifies the critical role of public work in fostering a vibrant democracy. As the founder of Public Achievement, Boyte empowers citizens and communities across the globe to engage in public work that contributes to the common good. His “public work” model emphasizes collaborative action and participatory democracy in addressing societal challenges. Boyte plays a leadership role at the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College, influencing future generations of civic leaders. At Imagining America, he continues his commitment to strengthening the democratic purposes of the humanities, arts, and design. Moreover, Boyte’s international work, particularly in South Africa, provides valuable lessons in citizen democracy and civic renewal that are relevant to our symposium’s theme of education, dialogue, and deliberation in democracy.

CREATE is partnering with the Indiana Bar Foundation, the Indiana University Center for Representative Government, and The Remnant Trust on the 2024 Symposium.

IV.Featured Resources

Featured Resources: Indiana University Center on Representative Government

The Center on Representative Government was established in 1999 by former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton as a non-partisan, educational institution dedicated to fostering a healthy representative democracy through an informed electorate that “understands our system of government and participates in our civic life.” The IUCRP hosts an extensive array of free civics education resources and activities to assist educators in preparing students to seek solutions to the many challenges that confront our nation today. Free, interactive games and apps include:

    Action Citizenhelps students use critical analysis to evaluate the expectations and relationships between the American people and their federal government. Students can analyze primary sources, summarize details and ideas, evaluate different points of view, and develop civic awareness. Action Citizen Engaging is a free iOS download or can be played online.
    CitizIN explores 200 years of Indiana history and aligned with state standards through primary sources, videos, trivia challenges, and interactive skill builders. It was developed to supplement the books Hoosiers and the American Story and Hoosiers, a New History of Indiana. CitizIN is a free iOS download or can be played online.
    Engaging Congress lets students explore fundamental tenets of representative government and today’s challenges through primary sources. Students can identify a central idea of a sources, summarize details and ideas, evaluate different points of view and information sources, and connect issues of the past with those of today. Engaging Congress is a free iOS download or can be played online with WebGL.
    Freedom Summer 1964 examines the Civil Rights movement, including the 1964 Mississippi voter registration drive, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act. Using 20 primary sources, a card deck, and a bulleting board, students identify different perspectives and predict outcomes. Freedom Summer is a free iOS/Android download or can be played online.
    •Their YouTube channel, has several short videos on aspects of representative democracy and particular issues.

CREATE can support MCS teachers. If you have questions or to recommend additional PD events, please email

To stay informed of the latest resources and opportunities, sign up for CREATE’s email list.

CREATE Wants to Hear Your Questions and Ideas

Feel free to contact with any questions or comments you have about participating.

CREATE is grateful for the support of the U.S. Department of Education