Indian Springs Middle School (ISMS) in Columbia City, Indiana opened it's doors in the fall of 1996. The building was the result of the consolidation of five Whitley County schools, which previously housed all students in Whitley County Consolidated Schools from Kindergarten through eighth grade. The school currently houses approximately 900 students in grades 6, 7, and 8 and is the only middle school in the district.
The creation of this middle school was the first endeavor by the district into the arena of middle school education and the concept of teaming. Prior to ISMS, most K-8 classrooms were self-contained and independent of one another. One focus of the new building was to be teaming. Teachers would all be expected to perform as members of a core area or related arts team. The core areas would be composed of four teachers, one each teaching Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Math. Each grade level would house three such core area teams. Each of these teams would be assigned 90-100 students who would remain with the group of four teachers for the entire school year. The related arts (Art, Technology Education, Family Skills, Music, and Physical Education/Health) staff would also be asked to function as a unit. The core area staff was provided with two full years of training in the development and functioning of effective teams prior to the opening of the building.
Another focus came in response to a community concern that the middle school would be too large and that children and families who were used to smaller schools would become "lost" or "numbers" in the system. The result was a building designed such that each grade level would be housed in a different wing effectively creating three separate smaller schools within the large school. The students at each grade level would remain in their own wing for the majority of the day and share related arts and lunchroom facilities with the other two grade levels. The major benefit of "teaming" and the "school within a school" concept to students and families was the creation of much smaller learning communities where students would be known on a more personal level.