Courtesy of Muncie Magazine, Fall Issue
When officials from the city of Muncie and The Arc of Indiana jointly announced a project that would create a downtown Muncie hotel with a training facility for people with disabilities, Brittany Bales saw an immediate opportunity to push forward her own passion and career.
That’s because Bales has lived her life standing up for special needs people. She remembers reaching out to those kids who seemed to be blocked from the popular circles in school, and she went to college to study special education. After graduation from Ball State University, she got a special education teaching job at Southside High School in 2010, stayed there until it closed, then taught one year at Central.
While in the high school classroom, she started the special needs prom and the unified track team, two programs that gave her students the opportunity to be in activities every other child was offered. She loved her job in the high school classroom setting, and seeing the impact she had on those kids was rewarding. “Their reaction is awesome because you can see the light bulb come on,” Bales said. “And their parents’ reaction is even better, because you can see what it means that you are helping their kids.” But that classroom naturally limited her ability to help once the kids moved on. Bales had a need to see that these students felt like productive members of the community after school. “It’s not equal, it’s not fair, and that’s what education is all about,” she said. “There is little to nothing for them to do, and they often don’t leave high school with job skills.”
But as instructor at the Erskine Green Training Institute, she can teach students specific skills. The fact that this project is happening where she grew up makes Bales’ face beam with pride. “It made it more special because it’s my town,” she said. “It’s my mayor, and it’s my city.” Bales has a passion for helping people, and that makes her a great fit for the Erskine Green Training Institute. “(When I was a student) I started to see that they weren’t with the other kids at the lunch table, and they weren’t in the classroom with the others, and I didn’t like that,” she said. But it was more than a gradual development in her mind. It was a light switch. “I can pinpoint the kid that made it happen for me.”
Brittany and her husband have two children, ages 7 and 4.
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