By Kasy Long
Jan 12, 2023
Jory Bales aspires to be someone’s favorite teacher.
When adults reflect on memories from elementary school, they often remember their favorite teachers. Perhaps a teacher inspired them to pursue a career or taught them an invaluable lesson. A good education shapes minds and hearts, and a good teacher motivates students to follow their dreams.
That’s exactly the kind of teacher Bales hopes to be for a child.
“Kids are so smart. Their brains work differently than ours do. They have solutions to problems and they aren’t afraid to try while adults might be more hesitant or have self-doubt,” Bales says.
A junior elementary education major from La Porte, Indiana, Bales has always valued academics. That’s why the Sycamore joined Indiana State University’s Honors College, an immersive academic unit offering unique learning experiences in a close-knit environment.
Bales was interested in the smaller class sizes and creative courses in the Honors College, including a course on New Hollywood films taught by the Honors College’s Student Research and Engagement Coordinator, Matt Bird.
The course examines the impact of the New Hollywood era of film history from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. Along with her classmates, Bales watched many classic films of the era, including Bonnie & Clyde (1967), The Graduate (1967), The Last Picture Show (1971), Chinatown (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), Sorcerer (1977), Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and more. The discussions allowed students to learn about the cultural impact of these films, as well as the historical events that shaped the era.
Bales had never watched several of these movies prior to taking the course and she enjoyed broadening her knowledge of film history. At the end of the class, she completed a project on the infamous 1969 Woodstock music festival and its impact on American culture.
Through her classes, Bales has observed her professors, their creative approach to teaching, and how they care about their students. She hopes to be a similar teacher for her students, preferably in a third-grade classroom where she can emphasize science and social studies subjects.
“Faculty are always willing to talk to you about academics or about how your day is going. It’s nice to have faculty here [at Indiana State] who really care about how their students are doing,” says Bales.
Indiana State’s Bayh College of Education prepares future teachers with hands-on instruction and field experiences in elementary schools located in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Bales has observed teachers in different grade levels, an experience that provides her with a behind-the-scenes look at classroom environments and what she can expect in her own classroom following graduation.
“Kids don’t have any barriers. I like how they view the world and they’re very interesting to be around,” Bales says.
Other professional development experiences include the University’s Early Childhood Education Center, offering year-round professional care for children from infancy to five years old. Sycamores train as teachers while providing service to community members. The center also allows students to expand their research on education-related topics.
For example, Bales has studied psychological factors that could affect a child’s development. For one project, she wrote a thesis paper on the mental disorders affecting children in today’s classrooms. Bales uses this information to understand her future students.
Outside of the classroom, Bales demonstrates her passion with various campus organizations and service projects, including Indiana State’s Lemon Club, a branch of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Students frequently organize lemonade stands around Indiana State’s campus to raise awareness for childhood cancer and to fundraise money for childhood cancer research. During the cold winter months, the group serves hot chocolate.
Experiences like these help Sycamores discover their calling at Indiana State. For Bales, she knew she wanted to be a teacher, and Indiana State’s faculty provide numerous learning opportunities for professional development in and out of the classroom.
“Indiana State is a smaller school, but there are faculty across campus and in the Honors College that are willing to work with all their students because of the smaller classes. There’s a lot on campus you may not see on a surface level, so it’s worth putting in the research to find your fit, and Indiana State has a fit for everyone,” Bales explains.
This Sycamore learns alongside many dedicated peers who care about students’ success, even before they have a classroom of their own. Bales is ready to begin teaching and inspiring children. Because dedicated teachers wear BLUE!