October 20, 2017 -- The Project School is honored to have received the Old National Bank "Tools for Schools" grant for the third year in a row. This unrestricted grant was awarded to TPS after a regional voting competition. The school with the greatest number of votes in each of Old National Bank's 14 regions received $1000.

The Project School is in its 9th year of operation as a nonprofit, chartered public school. It was founded by local public school educators who care deeply about education, and who share a vision for what innovative, whole-child education should look like for all children. TPS currently serve 279 diverse children from kindergarten through grade 8, including 25% students with special learning needs, and 35% children experiencing poverty. All students in this inclusive school are treated as individuals with unique learning needs and goals. Enrollment is determined by a lottery system that is open to all families who reside in Indiana.

Annually, approximately 300 children remain on the school's waiting list, due to limited physical space, many with special learning needs and socio-economic challenges. The leadership of TPS is saddened that they are unable to serve a greater number of deserving families who desire its heart-mind-voice educational vision. Since first opening its doors, the goal of TPS has been to educate and impact the lives of as many marginalized children in the community as possible. As TPS heads toward a decade of successful service, they are strategically prepared to now expand their programs in order to benefit many more children and families, and to continue to strengthen Bloomington’s innovative educational offerings.

For the past three years, including up to the present, TPS has been setting aside non-designated fundraising income to put toward its future implementation of an expansion of the school. The three Old National Bank Tools For Schools grants are also helping to serve this purpose. Currently, TPS is using funds to train faculty interns - individuals on our support teaching staff who demonstrate the promise to become lead classroom teachers. The school is preparing them for a future in which it is in need of additional lead teachers who are able to demonstrate its mission, vision, values and pedagogy.

October 4, 2017 -- The Project School has received a grant of $100,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of the Endowment’s Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students.

The Project School is one of 52 public school corporations and five chartered public schools in Indiana selected to implement plans to help them meet the complex academic, college, career, and social and emotional counseling needs of their students.

The amount of the grant to The Project School was based on total school enrollment. Schools or districts with fewer than 1000 students were permitted to apply for up to $100,000. The Project School received the maximum amount available for a school of its size (278 students). The successful grant followed prior receipt of a $30,000 planning grant that was utilized in the early part of 2017 in order to develop a long-term counseling strategic plan.

The Project School will utilize the Lilly Endowment Inc. grant to implement a counseling program based on the American School Counselor Associates (ASCA) National Model: A Framework for School Counseling Programs. This model supports the school's overall mission by promoting academic achievement, career planning, and personal/social development. In addition, the ASCA National Model has themes of social justice, advocacy, and systemic change infused throughout, as comprehensive school counseling programs are designed to remove barriers to student success and to help students reach their full potential. These themes are in strong alignment with the overall mission, vision, values and goals of The Project School.

Catherine Diersing, Leader of The Project School, shared her thoughts on the impact the Lilly Endowment Inc. grant dollars will have on the future of the school’s students. “As a small, independent chartered public school, we unfortunately have limited resources to fully implement our vision for beneficial and long-lasting counseling supports for our students. This Lilly Endowment grant will move mountains as we continue to develop wrap-around services for students in crisis. This grant will also allow us to provide innovative and comprehensive programs and supports for our students well before they are in crisis, so that we can enable our entire student body to thrive as learners and as life-long contributors to the strengthening of community.”

Through the Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students, the Endowment has made a total of $26.4 million in implementation grants and $9.1 million in planning grants to help public school corporations and chartered public schools across Indiana improve strategies for school counseling. During the competitive implementation grant phase of the initiative, 254 public school corporations and chartered public schools submitted implementation proposals totaling nearly $90 million.

“The response from school corporations and charters far exceeded the Endowment’s expectations,” said Sara B. Cobb, the Endowment’s vice president for education. “We believe that this response indicates a growing awareness that enhanced and expanded counseling programs are urgently needed to address the academic, college, career and social and emotional counseling needs of Indiana’s K-12 students. We were most pleased to see how the schools engaged a wide variety of community stakeholders in assessing their students’ counseling needs and developing strategies to address them.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

Learn more about the Lilly Endowment Counseling Initiative

August 29, 2017 -- A number of faculty members from The Project School attended summer 2017 professional development trainings and experiences, in order to advance their expertise and role in the classroom.

School Leader, Catherine Diersing, shared about the benefit of professional development not only for the attending educators, but for the entire school community, as well. “What amazes me most about on-going systemic, focused professional development is the direct and immediate impact on curriculum, instruction, and the building of a stronger school culture. Because of the nature of collaboration at The Project School, all staff members have the opportunity to gain from the experiences that teachers engaged in. Whole-staff growth is measurable and can be seen both immediately and into the future life of our school.”

Math Education

Heather Baron Caudill, Mallory Hammel, Emily Jalkanen, and James Morrison attended the Math Learning Center's Leadership Institute. The institute offered lead teachers, coaches, and curriculum specialists the tools for developing and sustaining a successful implementation of Bridges in Mathematics, Number Corner, and Bridges Intervention. Keynote presentations included: work on being intentional with math instruction, group sharing to improve student learning, structuring and leading productive mathematical discussions, improving teacher environments to improve student results, computational fluency, and the differences between mathematical modeling and modeling mathematics. TPS faculty also attended breakout sessions including: Bridges intervention, using technology in math, Bridges workplace management and differentiation, and curriculum coaching.

School Counseling

Kalei Sabaratnam and Pamela Cunningham participated in the American School Counselors Association Conference, attended by 3000+ national and international educators and counselors. Keynote sessions included: themes of growth mindset, self-care as counselors, and student advocacy. In small group sessions, they learned about body positivity, supporting LGBTQ students needs more structurally/organizationally, perfectionism, social media, supporting students with trauma, and girls’ self esteem.

Responsive Classroom

Emily Jalkanen attended the Responsive Classroom Advanced Training. The experience focused on motivating and exciting students through engaging academics, and developing effective management strategies for challenging behaviors in the classroom. Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to elementary and middle school teaching that focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional learning.

Lilly Faculty Fellowship Travel

Cindy Newland traveled to England as part of her Lilly Endowment Faculty Fellowship, in order to see sites from books that have inspired her. Visiting London, Bath, and the Cornish coast, she visited the Albert and Victoria Museum, the British Museum, Churchill War Rooms, Tower of London, and ancient Roman baths, among other amazing places. Connecting to work she did with her class this past year, she took photos of evidence of disability accessibility in London, and interviewed a visitor to London about his experience using a wheelchair in the city.

Teacher's College, Columbia University

Tarrey Banks attended the Writing Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University. This institute is designed for educators who are committed to turning classrooms into richly literate reading and writing workshops. Participants spent five days exploring the following topics: the central role of curriculum development and planning in the teaching of writing, units of study in writing workshop, helping students write well about reading, genre studies in reading and writing memoir, poetry and short fiction, the importance of assessment-based instruction, methods of holding students accountable for doing their best work, using literature to help students craft their writing, and classroom structures that support inquiry and collaboration.

Conference Presentations

Tarrey Banks, John Searcy and Scott Wallace have had a paper accepted for the FABLEARN 2017 Conference. Entitled, “Design Math: A Design and Project-based Effort to Learn Geometry in Middle School through Fabric-Based Yurts,” they will present this fall on engagement and real-world applications and contexts in mathematics classrooms. They will share about their set of yearlong, collaborative, project-based learning activities that were created to support the teaching of middle-school geometry curriculum through design, modeling, and fabrication of yurts.

July 12, 2017 -- Scott Wallace and Tarrey Banks, TPS lead middle school teachers, recently authored a new article in International Journal for Designs of Learning on project based/design learning, in partnership with faculty from Indiana University.