Joseph Baldwin Academy

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Students from the Joseph Baldwin Academy

The Joseph Baldwin Academy, or JBA, is a summer program of two three-week sessions for gifted students going into grades 8-10. Founded in 1985, it is intended to provide opportunities for social growth as the students explore college life and take university-level courses. Located in Kirksville, Missouri, the academy is run by Truman State University students, faculty, and alumni.


The Joseph Baldwin Academy was created to provide a simulated college experience for highly talented students. The courses are intended to be at or near college-level. Beyond the classroom, JBA gives students an opportunity to socialize with people of their own age and intellect from different cities and, in some cases, states. The goal of the academy is to give the students an “increased appreciation for the pleasures of education, intellectual engagement, and the college experience.” [1]

Student life[edit]

Each session lasts for three weeks, during which students take a single, college-level course. The classes meet from 9 am until 4 pm Monday through Friday with a lunch break in between. There are also half-days on Saturday and a short study hall every day at 7 pm. The courses at the academy are intended to match the difficulty of those typically taken by first year college students, and the content approximates that of a semester-long course.

Living and Supervision[edit]

Students live and eat in a Truman dormitory. Sessions have been housed in both Ryle and Centennial Hall, in gender-separated wings, with strict regulations regarding opposite gender interaction in the dorm setting.

In the dormitory, there is a greater amount of supervision and structured recreation than college students experience. All the students are in a gender-specific housing group composed of eight to twelve people (four to six rooms) with a preceptor who acts as a resident assistant. The housing groups host their own activities, ranging from going to a local restaurant to watching a movie. While students are not allowed to bring video games/electronics, which includes personal computers, housing group preceptors sometimes bring their own gaming systems for their housing group activity. In addition, students experience a "lights-out" curfew after a certain hour each night.

Each class has two or three preceptors who help with class studies and sometimes teach a lesson, depending on the class structure. Preceptors are also responsible for running evening activities . If students violate the rules, the preceptors are responsible for documenting the incident ("doc'ing"), but are not in charge of actually determining consequences for rule violations. After a documentation, students will then have a meeting with the director and/or assistant director at either 4:15pm or after the hall meeting, depending on the severity of the offense, to discuss the documented offense.

Supervision is also done by the Pro staff and the Preceptors with specific duties.

Free Time[edit]

In keeping with the goal of providing a well-rounded, liberal arts education, the academy provides a variety of recreational opportunities. In the morning, before class, students eat breakfast in the cafeteria and talk with friends, or engage in optional activities, such as jogging, yoga, or trips to the local coffee shop. There are also activities generally offered between 4-6pm during the students' "free time", which are not required for the students to attend. Mandatory activities and events run by the preceptors occur every weekday from 7-9:20pm and range from crafts or cooking activities to sports games. The students also have the option to take a study hall during this evening activity time.

Students are also given access to university services, including the Pickler Memorial Library, Student Union Building (SUB), and Ophelia Parrish. When leaving any building, students must be accompanied by a buddy and must utilize an electronic check-out system where they state their intended location. At the SUB, students can purchase books or buy food from restaurant vendors. At the library, they can check out books or use the computers. At Ophelia Parrish they can practice their musical instruments if they have one. Students may also go to McClain Hall in order to cash checks that they may have.


Classes are distributed across the arts, humanities, social sciences, life sciences and physical sciences, although most are interdisciplinary. Offerings in the past have included courses in: medievalism, field ecology, experimental physiology, criminology, ethnomusicology, forensic statistics, environmental chemistry, folklore and equine science. Also, challenging courses in languages less likely to be available in high school are offered, such as Russian, Italian and Latin. Specialized offerings in history, drawing, acting, computer science, mathematics, literature, and many other areas are offered, too.[2] Courses frequently involve field trips, which in the past have included archaeological digs, Native American powows, overnight excursions to libraries, museums and theatrical performances in distant cities. Courses are taught by faculty from Truman State University, and are assisted by Truman student preceptors. Classes and professors vary from year to year.

Session I - June 9–31, 2012[edit]

•An "Animated" Course •Crime and Justice in America •Introduction to Chemistry •Italian Language and Culture •Lying with Statistics: Spotting Suspicious Data •Scoops, Blogs, and Tweets: Packaging News for Eyes, Ears and Fingers! •The Art and Science of Computer Programming •The Horse •The Human Laboratory •Theatre: Onstage and Off

Session II - July 7–28, 2012[edit]

•Advocacy and Debate: Argument, Critical Thinking and Persuasion •Elementary Latin: The Words and Ways of the Ancient Romans •Ethnomusicology: Music in the Real World •Genealogy: The Quest for Origins •Historian as Detective •Kaleidoscope: A Multi Faceted Approach To Art and Design •Old English: Beowulf and the Heroic Age of Britain •Psychology & the Media: Reality Explored •The Writer's Craft •What Bugs You: Insects and Human Affairs


JBA has many activities throughout the day. From 7 until 9 in the morning, students can choose to participate in morning activities like laundry, jogging, and just hanging around the lounge. Afternoon and evening activities include going to the campus recreation center, soccer, American football/football, basketball, swimming at the aquatic center, watching movies, JBA handball, and Ultimate (sport), and trips to local restaurants and shops, such as Dairy Queen. Some activities are JBA traditions, such as dodge ball and capture the flag. Although activities held in the morning and afternoon are optional, students must partake in evening activities. Once a session there are special activities like Water Olympics (Slip n’ Slide, mud volleyball, and more), Carnival (where students can play games run by staff, eat snow cones, and put fellow students in "jail"), Assassins (students have a target and must “kill” them with a sock), “Halloween”, dances, and a trip to Beach Ottumwa. These events take the place of evening activities that day, with the exception of Assassins which usually spans 3 to 5 days. In past years there have been other traditions such as emo Tuesday and the team skit competition. There are also three academy-wide dances.

Admissions Requirements[edit]

Since JBA attempts to hold students to a college-level standard of learning, students must meet certain requirements before gaining admission to the program. Students must be nominated by their principal or guidance counselor and must have completed at least seventh grade. Students also must score at or above the 95th percentile in at least one area on a recognized standardized achievement examination, such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, TAKS, Stanford Achievement Test, or MAP tests. Students who live in an area which does not support standardized testing can also be nominated with a GPA of 3.75-4.0 or an IQ test of 125 (95%) or above.

Home-schooled students may be nominated by a parent, which is handled on a case-by-case basis through the Dean of the Joseph Baldwin Academy. Home-schooled students will need to supply the same standardized test score described above and will also need to provide the Dean with information about their curriculum over the last two years. School counselors are encouraged to alert home-schooled students in their area about this opportunity.

Students who are certified as eligible for the final selection process will receive notification in October of their Distinguished Nominee designation, as well as information and application materials for the Joseph Baldwin Academy. Final selection and designation as one of the Eminent Young Scholars is based on a recommendation letter from a current teacher, a complete school transcript (two full years), and ACT, SAT, or PSAT test scores.


Founded in 1985, JBA is named for Joseph Baldwin, pioneer educator and founder of Truman State. JBA was created to provide a simulated college experience, particularly in the liberal arts, at a critical point during students’ development when normal school curriculum might strike them as insufficiently challenging.[3]

The inaugural academy seated 60 students in four courses in one summer session; in 1992 the academy grew to include two summer sessions; currently, JBA offers ten courses for approximately 200 pupils in each of the two sessions.

Deans of the Joseph Baldwin Academy[edit]

Joseph Baldwin statue on the Truman State University campus
  • Darrel W. Krueger (Founder, 1985–1989)
  • Jack Magruder (1989–1991)
  • Lynn Gillette (1991–1992)
  • Heinz D. Woehlk (1992–1999)
  • David Christiansen (1999–2004)
  • Jeff Gall (2004–2006)
  • Adam Brooke Davis (2006–2008)
  • Kevin Minch (2008- )


  1. ^ Joseph Baldwin Academy - Truman State University
  2. ^ /
  3. ^ Joseph Baldwin Academy - Truman State University

External links[edit]