CREATE Newsletter – February 2024 – Issue 11

In This Issue

I.CREATE News and Updates

    Celebrating Black History Month with Music, History, and Community
    Empowering Future Leaders: CREATE, MCS, and Camp Adventure Partnership
    EWA Goes to the Indianapolis Museum of Art
    American Flags for Muncie Classrooms
    CREATE Teacher Profile: Jewel Farris

II.Opportunities for Teachers and Students

    Join Supreme Court Justices to Discuss Civics!
    iCivics National Learning Week
    Featured Destination: Conner Prairie
    Upcoming Professional Development Sessions
    Professional Development Calendar
    Civics Trivia

III.Save the Date

    Civics Day at Muncie Central
    Summer Civic Learning Academy
    Civic Learning Symposium

IV.Featured Resources

    Black History Month
    C-SPAN Classroom

I. CREATE News and Updates


February is a time to celebrate and reflect on the rich history and contributions of African Americans, and this year, Muncie Community Schools (MCS) and CREATE are partnering on events that foster education, music, and community.

On Thursday, February 22, approximately 150 MCS students and teachers will attend a performance sponsored and developed by the Institute for the Study of Political Economy of the Frederick Douglass Jazz Works (FDJW) ensemble, led by the talented Ruth Naomi Floyd, at Pruis Hall on the Ball State campus at 10am. Floyd, renowned for her innovative approach to music, has masterfully set the powerful speeches, essays, and writings of Frederick Douglass to jazz, creating a compelling fusion of history and melody. This ensemble will not only perform these pieces but also delve into the meanings behind each, offering audiences a profound understanding of Douglass’s enduring legacy.

This concert will bring together students from Muncie Central High School, Northside and Southside Middle Schools, Burris, Indiana Academy, and other local schools. Adding to the richness of the event, The Remnant Trust will display original artifacts, including early printed editions of Douglass’s works and a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, providing a tangible connection between these important historical figure, their ideas, and their ongoing impact today.

Expanding the Celebration

Ben Williams, principal of Northside Middle School, on February 16 built on the success of last year’s Black History Month concert by expanding this musical celebration to feature a diverse setlist that paid homage to African American musical legends.

This series of events, from the educational encounter with Ruth Naomi Floyd to the expansive musical performances, seeks to embody the spirit of Black History Month. MCS exemplifies the power of integrating culture, history, and community in our schools. We look forward to your support and participation in making these events a meaningful and memorable part of our Black History Month celebration.

CREATE is committed to weaving the tapestry of Black History into our curriculum throughout the entire year. We believe the stories, achievements, and contributions of African Americans are integral to understanding the full narrative of American history and civics. Our goal is to transcend the traditional confines of Black History Month, ensuring that students receive a more holistic and inclusive education. By embedding these crucial perspectives into our daily learning, we aim to foster a more informed, respectful, and inclusive community of learners.

Empowering Future Leaders: CREATE and Camp Adventure Partnership

MC-29032 – Camp Adventure – Captain Irving and Flying Classroom at Camp Adventure

We’re excited to spotlight a transformative partnership that’s shaping the next generation of civic leaders: the collaboration between Muncie Community Schools and Camp Adventure. Nestled in the heart of Muncie, Camp Adventure has become a beacon of leadership development and civic engagement, offering students opportunities to explore, learn, and grow.

A Unique Learning Environment: Camp Adventure is not just a camp; it’s a living classroom where the natural environment and structured leadership activities provide a dynamic setting for personal growth and civic understanding. This partnership leverages the camp’s unique resources to enhance our civics curriculum, fostering a hands-on approach to learning that emphasizes the importance of community involvement, environmental stewardship, and leadership skills.

Leadership Collaboration in Action: The core of the CREATE and Camp Adventure partnership is education, civics, and leadership, designed specifically for our students. Through a series of immersive activities, students are challenged to step out of their comfort zones, engage in problem-solving tasks, and work collaboratively towards common goals. These experiences not only build leadership capabilities but also instill a deep sense of civic responsibility and a commitment to positive community impact.

Looking Forward: As we continue to nurture this partnership with Camp Adventure, we are inspired by the potential it holds for our students. The Leadership Collaboration Program is just the beginning. We envision a future where our students not only excel academically but also emerge as compassionate, informed leaders who are ready to make meaningful contributions to their communities and beyond.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the staff and leadership at Camp Adventure for their dedication to our students’ growth and development. Together, we are not just educating students; we are shaping the civic leaders of tomorrow. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting partnership and the incredible journeys our students are embarking on at Camp Adventure. Your support and involvement are crucial to the success of these endeavors, and we look forward to sharing more inspiring stories in the months to come.

This Is the Best Day of My Life
East Washington Academy Bridges 500 Years at Indianapolis Museum of Art

Teachers Jessica Mixell, Makenzie Parkison, Joseph Boggs, and Chynia Cain took 74 East Washington Academy students to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art on January 26. “Our students were able to connect with the art in a way that wasn’t possible before this trip,” Jessica said. After finishing a unit on the impact of the Renaissance, she wanted her students to see art and artifacts from the period to bring classroom content to life. “The students were able to see the real-world application of what they were learning. In class, students read about the artists and the techniques used for painting during this era,” Makenzie said. “We completed a project where students had to use text evidence to write an essay about an artist and complete a painting using similar techniques.” Makenzie’s 5th graders were excited to use knowledge and skills gained in their Renaissance Unit when looking at paintings in the IMA. “They have not stopped talking about this trip and how awesome it was to be able to see the pictures in their readers come to life!” she said. A student told Jessica, “This is the best day of my life. I am going to beg my mom to let me come back.” Another student saw a possible career in creative expression, saying “Do you think if I become an artist, will I see my work up here?”

New American Flags in Muncie Community Schools

In a display of community and collaboration the CREATE project team was able to provide American flags to over 60 new classrooms across the district.

Following extensive renovation projects at Muncie Community Schools that saw the expansion and modernization of facilities, the district found itself in need of new American flags, particularly in elementary classrooms. The renovations, while very beneficial, led to the demolition of some old classroom spaces and the addition of new ones, leaving a gap in the provision of this essential patriotic symbol in our schools.

Having an American flags in every classroom is a daily reminder for our students of the principles our nation stands for: liberty, justice, and democracy.

As Muncie Community Schools continue to grow and improve facilities, CREATE hopes to play a role in ensuring that the educational environment remains rich, supportive, and deeply connected to foundational American values.

CREATE Teacher Profile: Jewel Farris

This month CREATE highlights the work of Jewel Farris, a social studies teacher at Southside Middle School. Jewel is passionate about the value of civics in his teaching. “Teaching young adults about civics will guide the next generation to be amazing leaders of the future, and that will produce a more productive citizen. Teaching civics helps students connect past and present in order to be informed voters,” he said. “Students gain an understanding of the principles and values that underpin democratic governance, such as justice, equality, and individual rights. They learn about the structures and functions of government at local, national, and global levels.” Jewel believes these dispositions contribute to greater student engagement in improving many different environments. “Civics education empowers students to contribute positively to their communities, advocate for change, and uphold the principles of democracy throughout their lives,” he said.

Jewel has been a frequent participant in opportunities offered by CREATE. Throughout 2023, he participated in the Summer Civic Learning Academy and the Summer Leadership Academy. His curiosity also has made him a leader in exploring several presentations hosted by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, including sessions on The Global Cold War, The History of Latina and Latino People in the United States, Making Modern America: Business & Politics in the Twentieth Century, America’s First Civil Rights Movement, from Revolution to Reconstruction, Black Women’s History, and the History of Chinese in the United States. “We all need to read history and teach history from different perspectives and angles,” he said. “I have only been taught one perspective, and when information is given from a different point of view…it really opens your eyes.”

Jewel implements a variety of classroom activities that share his passion for civics. He led students through a Caste System Simulation for an entire school day. The role-playing simulation allowed students to see and feel, firsthand, how different government functions are and how life is different in other cultures. In his Alternative class, students “complete Current Events and watch CNN10 daily. We have discussions to enlighten the students about world topics. I try to incorporate current events into the curriculum to help students understand how government policies, world policies and decisions impact society. I try my best to encourage critical thinking and to be respectful when debating various issues,” he said. Jewel also is collaborating with his colleagues in these activities. “Recently, the ELA instructor and I have been organizing debates in this co-taught class. Students are becoming aware of HOW TO debate and not just argue. Palestine and Israel have been the topics of many of these discussions.”

Heather Veatch, East Washington Academy, & CREATE in Chalkbeat Indiana!

In a recent Chalkbeat article, Heather Veatch, a teacher at East Washington Academy is highlighted for her innovative approach to civics education in her fourth-grade class. At the beginning of the year, Veatch’s students engage in a practical exercise in democracy by running for various class government positions, delivering campaign speeches, and voting. This hands-on experience allows students to address real issues within their class, fostering a sense of civic responsibility and engagement from a young age.

This initiative aligns with broader efforts in Indiana to enhance civics education across all grades, spurred by new legislative proposals aimed at integrating civics into the curriculum more effectively. The proposed bills intend to recognize students, educators, and schools for their efforts in civics education through a new civics seal, similar to recognitions in STEM education. These efforts come in response to Indiana’s alarmingly low voter turnout rates and aim to cultivate a foundation of civic knowledge and engagement among young Hoosiers.

The legislation also seeks to intertwine civics education with literacy, emphasizing the importance of not sidelining social studies in the push for improved reading skills. By introducing civics concepts early on, alongside high-quality reading materials that include U.S. history and government content, the state hopes to build a more civically engaged and informed populace.

Please Share Your Ideas

CREATE would love to hear your ideas on field trips that support civics-related learning in your classroom and may be able to offer support. Contact CREATE to discuss your plans!

Contact Us at

II. Opportunities for Teachers and Students

2024 Civics for All of US Teacher Institutes

Teachers working with grades 3–12 can apply to attend a Civics for All of U.S. Teacher Institute with the National Archives! The Institute will be offered twice, June 24–27 and July 8–11, in Washington, DC. The program includes hands-on sessions featuring strategies for teaching civics with primary sources, special tours and activities in the National Archives Museum, guest speakers, and site visits to additional landmarks and museums in the nation’s capital. Fifty teachers will be selected. The application deadline is March 4, 2024. The National Archives Foundation will partially reimburse travel costs based on your geographic region. Full participation is required in order to receive reimbursement. The National Archives Foundation will provide breakfast and lunch, and participants are responsible for additional meals. Click here for more information. Contact CREATE if you are interested in discussing this opportunity.

Click Here for More Info

Watch a Live Conversation with Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney-Barrett

The theme of iCivics’ National Civic Learning Week is “2024 and Beyond: Civic Learning as a Unifying Force.” As part of an extended forum livestreamed on March 12 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett will participate in a conversation discussing their “shared commitment to high-quality civic education” and address student questions about the judicial system, civic engagement, and the Justices’ legal career paths. The discussion will discuss civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained through civic education as well as why civics is “essential to sustaining and strengthening constitutional democracy in the United States.” There will be no live Q&A, but questions may be submitted online. Register here for free tickets for yourself and your students. Teachers can request a free, grade-appropriate Took Kit to support Civic Learning Week activities that includes ”planning resources, sample social media posts, graphic assets, and more.”

Link to Register here
Link for Tool Kit

Featured Destination: Conner Prairie

The Conner Prairie historic house, museum, and over 1,000 acres of grounds provide a firsthand look at 19-century life in Indiana and the site’s rich history, allowing immersion in another time with live re-enactors at Indiana’s first Smithsonian-affiliated museum. Conner Prairie’s Learning Portal offers free and fee-based educational courses, including a free Virtual Walk Through of the site and Curious Conversations: Learning through Objects in Lenape Culture. Conner Prairie’s website also includes educational resources for teachers.

Experiences for students include:

    1816 Lenape Indian Camp: Students learn about frontier life in Indiana territory and explore the culture, and relationship between the Lenape Indians and American fur traders.
    1836 Prairie Town: Students experience 19th-century village life and interact with the people, animals, objects and routines of life in Central Indiana in 1836 in the one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith’s forge, helping with chores, or playing 19th-century games.
    1863 Civil War Journey: On July 13, 1863, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his forces crossed the Ohio River into Dupont, Indiana. Students cross a covered bridge and see presentations, gather supplies for the Soldier’s Aid Society, and participate in military drills.
    Animal Encounters: Students meet common and rare historical livestock (English Longhorn cattle, Ossabaw Island hogs, Tunis sheep, Arapawa goats) and learn about animal husbandry, life cycles, and silly and surprising animal behaviors.

Conner Prairie’s full schedule of activities resume after March 25. Tour reservations are required. The site is closed on Mondays.

    Conner Prairie
    Learning Portal
    Virtual Walk Through
    Curious Conversations
    Educational Resources
    1816 Lenape Indian Camp
    1836 Prairie Town
    1863 Civil War Journey
    Animal Encounters

Upcoming Paid Professional Development Sessions

Math Education & Civics with Alison Strole

Meet Alison Strole: a celebrated middle school math teacher at Hamilton Southeastern, is making waves in education with her innovative teaching strategies. Her remarkable work was featured in Education Week in the article “Math: The Most Powerful Civics Lesson You’ve Never Had.” Alison’s mission is to answer the age-old student question, “When am I ever going to use this?” by transforming math education.

Innovative Teaching: Alison’s classroom is a hub of innovation, where she blends math with civics. She challenges her students with rich tasks that require problem-solving and real-world application of their learning. Her students use math to analyze exit-poll data and demographic trends, revealing the immense power of math in shaping engaged and informed citizens.

Building Engaged Citizens: Alison brings the community into her classroom, demonstrating to students how to analyze data, evaluate options, and make informed choices, both as voters and community members.

Event Details:

    Date: February 21, 2024
    Time: 4:15 – 5:15p.m.
    Presenter: Alison Strole
    Platform: Online Session – Zoom

Bonus Incentive for Muncie Community Schools Teachers: A $50 stipend.

Please click here to register or contact CREATE at

All Teachers, Students, & Faculty are welcome!

We the People Competitions

On Wednesday, March 13, CREATE will host a Professional Development session open to both teachers and students. Both teachers and principals have expressed interest in participating in annual We the People competitions with other middle and high schools in Indiana. Nathan Earle, a social studies teacher at Northside Middle School, is a veteran of WTP competitions and is interested in starting the activity at MCS. “Civic education has never been more important than in this precise moment in our great country’s storied history,” Nathan said. “While content knowledge is great, our students that participate in the WTP program will gain skills that will follow them for the rest of their lives, including writing, using evidence, making sound arguments, and public speaking abilities.”

During the PD session, the Indiana Bar Foundation will review The Citizen and the Constitution, an instructional program for high, middle, and elementary school students which teaches the history and principles of the American constitutional democracy and the workings of government. It aims to establish the contemporary relevance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We the People is aligned to the Indiana Academic Standards for Social Studies and English Language Arts. “The We the People program takes the 8th Grade U.S. History standards as provided by IDOE and allows our students to master these standards through the lens of our founding documents and philosophies, such as the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers, and countless other writings by the men and women who contributed in innumerable ways to the conception and evolution of our country,” Nathan said.

We the People competitions simulate congressional hearings that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of constitutional principles. Students evaluate, take, and defend positions on relevant historical and contemporary issues before a panel of judges. Nathan is excited about helping MCS students shine in WTP competitions. “MCS has AMAZING students doing FANTASTIC work, and it is high time we show the world what the Northside Titans, Southside Panthers, and Muncie Central Bearcats have to offer.”

Teachers who participate in the session and complete a short survey will receive a $50 stipend.

Register HERE

Professional Development Calendar
CREATE can provide funding for MCS teachers who attend professional development (PD) opportunities related to civics and history content and pedagogy.

III. Save The Date

Civics Day 2024: A Day of Learning, Service, and Engagement

On April 19, 2024, Muncie Central will come together to celebrate the 2024 Civics Day, an annual event dedicated to fostering civic engagement and understanding among our youth. This special day is designed to provide MCS students with a unique blend of hands-on learning experiences through internships, job shadowing, volunteering, and a variety of civics-related activities.

Morning Activities: Engaging with the Community

The day will kick off with students stepping out of the traditional classroom setting to immerse themselves in the local community. They will engage in internships, job shadowing, and volunteering opportunities with a host of local businesses, non-profits, and organizations. This real-world experience is invaluable, providing insights into the workings of our local economy and the impact of civic-minded businesses and organizations.

During the first session, from 8:05 to 9:35 AM, students will have the opportunity to listen to inspiring speakers in the auditorium, participate in activities in the gym, and contribute to the beautification of our neighborhood. Activities will include planting flowers, picking up trash along the greenway, and planting trees, possibly collaborating with partners like Minnetrista.

The second session, from 9:45 to 11:30 AM, will follow a similar structure, offering students another chance to engage in meaningful activities that enhance our community’s environment and foster a sense of civic responsibility.

Lunch Break: A Time to Reflect and Connect

After a morning of active participation, students will enjoy a lunch break from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM. This interlude will provide a moment for reflection on the morning’s activities and an opportunity to connect with peers over shared experiences.

Afternoon Sessions: Deepening Civic Understanding

Post-lunch, the focus shifts back to the classroom, where teachers will lead diverse civics-related activities tailored to their subjects or departments. Utilizing a Google Form, students can sign up for activities that interest them the most, ensuring an afternoon filled with engaging and educational experiences.

Session 3, from 12:30 to 1:45 PM, and Session 4, from 1:45 to 3:05 PM, will include a variety of activities similar to those of previous years. These may range from creating art projects and writing letters to elected officials to engaging with guest speakers like Sue Errington, Scott Alexander, or local judges. Additionally, students may find themselves planting trees, maintaining property, or participating in a River Walk, all of which are designed to deepen their understanding of civic duty and community care.

Join Us in Making a Difference

Civics Day 2024 promises to be a day full of learning, service, and engagement. It’s an opportunity for our students to step beyond the confines of the classroom and into the heart of our community, where they can see firsthand the impact of their contributions and the importance of civic participation. We invite everyone to join us in this enriching experience, as we work together to foster a generation of informed, engaged, and responsible citizens.

To get involved Click HERE.

Summer Civics Learning Academy 2024

Save the Date: 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 elementary school educators. It will feature sessions led by local MCS and community presenters as well as presentations by nationally recognized innovators. SCLA is a paid PD opportunity, and participating teachers will receive a generous stipend. Planning is underway, so CREATE wants to hear from YOU. What topics or problems do you want to explore in a session with your colleagues? Email CREATE Project Director Donna Browne with your ideas!

CREATE’s 2023 SCLA welcomed 31 secondary teachers from MCS. MCS social studies teacher Julie Snider presented Preserving Democracy through Civics, and economics teacher Drew Shermeta presented Make as You Go. Special sessions highlighted local history with a bus tour; a panel featuring Indiana State Representative Sue Errington, County Commissioner Sherry Riggin, and Mayor Dan Ridenour; and two afternoons of interaction with students from Ivy Tech’s Upward Bound program to identify community problems and develop action plans, led by BSU’s John West. Other session topics included Middle School Mandate, Civics Across Content Areas, We the People Curriculum, Linking Content with Dispositions, Mapmaking for the Classroom, Controversial Topics, Restorative Justice, Youth Voice to Action, Liberty and Justice for All, TRUST ME: The Media Explained and Explored, Civics and Career Readiness, Teacher Leadership, Civics Solutions for the 21st Century, Community of Philosophical Inquiry, and Working with Afghan Students and Their Families.

2024 Civic Learning Symposium

Join us at the 2024 Civic Learning Symposium, hosted by the Center for Economic and Civic Learning at Ball State University, on September 27th and 28th at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. This year’s theme focuses on “Education, Dialogue, & Deliberation in Our Democracy,” highlighting the significance of fostering open dialogue and thoughtful deliberation in today’s polarized society. Our distinguished speaker, Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, brings a wealth of experience in education and civic engagement.

The symposium will delve into topics such as dialogue across differences, deliberative decision-making, educating for democracy, strengthening democratic practices, and empowering civic leaders. It’s a platform for scholars, educators, students, and community members to exchange ideas on enhancing civic engagement and democratic practices through various formats like workshops, strategy sessions, and interactive discussions.

Mark your calendars for this engaging event. Ball State University and Muncie Community School affiliates attend for free, while others can register for $150, covering meals and all sessions. Early registration discounts and a call for session proposals are available until July 25th. Don’t miss this opportunity to contribute to and learn from conversations shaping our democratic society.

2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture at Harvard Honoring Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski

Civics Trivia

Guion Bluford became the first African American in space in 1983. How many hours did he spend there?
A. 688
B. 912
C. 22
D. 64

“I wanted to set the standard, do the best job possible so that other people would be comfortable with African-Americans flying in space and African-Americans would be proud of being participants in the space program”.

–Guion Bluford

Answer: A

IV. Featured Resources

Black History Month

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.

Find Resources Here

C-SPAN Classroom

Drawing from its immense library of programming, C-SPAN Classroom provide free, video-based resources for teachers.

On This Day in History: OTDH is a searchable feature that can provide short video clips about important events, including archival footage, witness testimony, historical newsreels, and oral history.

Classroom Deliberations: Teachers can guide students’ discussion of current topics such as “Should Presidential Power Be Reined In?”, “Should the Federal Minimum Wage Be Raised?”, or “Should There Be Cameras in the Supreme Court?” Guided activities include a simulated Congressional debate, developing a position paper, making a website, and a Socratic Seminar.

Constitution Clips: Video clips from C-SPAN’s library bring Constitutional elements alive. For example, students can watch President Bill Clinton, Congress members, and an author discuss the meaning of the phrase “a more perfect union.”

On this Day in History
Classroom Deliberations
Constitution Clips


CREATE can support Muncie teachers.

If you have questions or to recommend additional events, please email

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CREATE Wants to Hear Your Questions and Ideas

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