Working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County, Indiana
An education initiative of the Community Foundation of DeKalb County

In The News

Speaker describes importance of lifelong learning

Written April 25th, 2016 by
Categories: In The News

GARRETT — Learning Link, an education initiative of Community Foundation of DeKalb County, held its semi-annual community meeting April 11 in Garrett.

Denise St. Amant, child development manager, and Jonell Malcolm, director, both of Head Start and Early Head Start, attend the Learning Link Community meeting April 11 at Garrett Country Club.

Denise St. Amant, child development manager, and Jonell Malcolm, director, both of Head Start and Early Head Start, attend the Learning Link Community meeting April 11 at Garrett Country Club.

“We recognize you enjoy learning, so we’re happy to bring you a special speaker this evening, Laurie Gray. Laurie’s from DeKalb County, is an award-winning author and an attorney, and I’m very proud to introduce her to you tonight,” said attorney Erik Weber, community foundation board member and a founding member of the Learning Link Steering Committee.

Learning Link’s usual community meeting format of action team reports was set aside for Gray’s presentation, titled “Cultivating Lifelong Learners.” Gray spoke of what it means to be a “lifelong learner” and what that looks like at different life stages.

Gray described lifelong learning as informal, in contrast with formal; voluntary, instead of compulsory; intrinsically motivated, not based on reward or punishment; driven by curiosity instead of curriculum; based on experience rather than lecture; and lastly, as play rather than worksheets.

Benefits of lifelong learning for the individual, Gray cited, were resilience, social skills and inclusion, active citizenship, an open mind, empathy and wisdom, and self-satisfaction and fulfillment.

Key components of lifelong learning, according to Gray, are curiosity, connection and intention.

“You have to be intentional about learning. Otherwise, it doesn’t happen,” she said.

Gray closed her presentation by encouraging guests to use their minds and develop their own thoughts, stating, “There’s nothing more useless than a mind filled with someone else’s thoughts.”

Guests received overviews from Learning Link action teams with data updates and what’s been accomplished in the past six months.

Melissa Eshbach, Learning Link Steering Committee Chair, closed the meeting encouraging the nearly 80 guests to:

• have a conversation with a friend or family member about something they learned at the meeting;

• talk with a committee member about joining an action team focused on early learning, kindergarten to 12th grade education, or adult learning, and;

• mark their calendars for Learning Link’s next community meeting, when teams will be reporting progress toward their goals, Tuesday, October 25 in Waterloo.

Learning Link, an initiative of the Community Foundation of DeKalb County, provides a platform upon which community members can work together to improve the quality of life for everyone in DeKalb County through continuous learning.

“Imagine if every DeKalb County child was reading at a third- grade reading level by third grade, and every student graduated from high school, ready for careers and learning beyond high school,” Eshbach said. “Learning Link efforts benefit everyone in DeKalb County by improving the quality of life, income levels and the personal fulfillment of individuals.”

More information about Learning Link is available from Judy Sorg at the community foundation, 925-0311 or jsorg@cfdekalb.org, and at lldekalb.org.

Learning Link to feature speaker

Written March 29th, 2016 by
Categories: In The News

The Star – March 29, 2016

GARRETT — Learning Link, an education initiative of the Community Foundation of DeKalb County, is inviting community members countywide to its community meeting in Garrett.

Attorney and award-winning author Laurie Gray will speak at Learning Link’s April 11 community meeting on the topic of “Cultivating Lifelong Learners.”

Attorney and award-winning author Laurie Gray will speak at Learning Link’s April 11 community meeting on the topic of “Cultivating Lifelong Learners.”

It is scheduled for Monday, April 11, from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the Garrett Country Club, 401 N. Walsh St.

Anyone with an interest in improving education levels in DeKalb County as a means to improving the quality of life is encouraged to attend.

While past meetings have focused on the strategies and outcome data being tracked by Learning Link action teams, the April 11 working dinner meeting will depart from that format. Keynote speaker Laurie Gray, JD, will speak about how a community can cultivate lifelong learning through curiosity, connection and intention. She also will engage those attending in dialogue.

Born in DeKalb County, Gray is an attorney and author of three award-winning young adult novels and a parenting book. She works as an adjunct professor of criminal sciences at Indiana Tech. She currently serves as victim advocate on the Allen County Indiana Community Corrections Board.

Learning Link DeKalb County is a framework upon which community members and organizations across sectors combine to achieve the community’s vision of working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all.

“Improving education levels in our community, including training and skill certifications beyond high school, is a sure way to reduce poverty in a community,” said Judy Sorg, director of the initiative.

Learning Link works across three areas that are led by volunteer action teams:” early learning, kindergarten to 12th-grade education, and adult education and training, including parenting education.

Melissa Eshbach, Learning Link Steering Committee Chair, said, “Embedded in everything we do, we are working to create a culture of always learning, whether you’re 4 years old or 94. As a DeKalb County business owner, parent and Community Foundation board member, I appreciate the foundation’s focus on learning at all ages.”

“The community foundation places a high priority on its education initiative, so we appreciate the participation of so many community members and education providers,” said Wendy Oberlin, the Community Foundation’s executive director. “Team members are dedicated to improving lives through education and training in all forms and at all ages. We hope to see them, along with other individuals or organizations excited about improving our county through learning at all ages on April 11 in Garrett.”

Dinner will be provided with an RSVP to Ashton Willis at the Community Foundation of DeKalb County, AWillis@CFDeKalb.org, or by calling 925-0311 by Monday, April 4.

An hour of continuing education credit will be available for attending educators and attorneys. For more information, call Judy Sorg at 925-0311 or send e-mail to JSorg@CFDeKalb.org.

At the mercy of the almighty dollar

Written February 23rd, 2016 by
Categories: In The News

The Star – February 23, 2015

by Linda Lipp

Jessica and Ken Butterfield at their home in Fort Wayne with their children Liam, 11, Caroline, 4, Levi, 2, and Sawyer, 1. Photo by Ray Steup

Jessica and Ken Butterfield at their home in Fort Wayne with their children Liam, 11, Caroline, 4, Levi, 2, and Sawyer, 1.
Photo by Ray Steup

 

FORT WAYNE — Jessica and Ken Butterfield are doing everything right, but it’s an everyday battle just to keep up with the costs of raising four children — let alone get ahead.

The Waynedale couple have no credit cards, and no debt except for the mortgage on their home, her student loans and a few small medical bills. Jessica plans all their meals and food budget in advance and uses coupons to save on groceries. When they anticipate a major expenditure, such as replacing a vehicle or fixing the roof, the Butterfields earmark their tax refunds and pinch pennies to pay for it in cash.

It’s the Dave Ramsey model.

Educated choice

Jessica is a stay-at-home mother who home-schools her oldest son, Liam, 11; and has just begun teaching their second child, Caroline, 4. They also have two toddlers, Levi, 2; and Sawyer, 1. Although she once worked as a medical assistant, she left her job shortly after the couple married five years ago.star20160223-2

“We knew all along that it was our desire that we would home-school our children,” she said. “We made the choice before we got married that we wanted to have more control over what our kids were learning, the environment they were in.”

It also made no financial sense as their family grew for her to go back to work and put the children in day care. With the small salary she would have made, “at the end of the month if we had paid for child care, we wouldn’t even have broken even,” she said.

Downsizing impact

The Butterfields were getting along OK until late last year on his annual wages of $37,000 for a job at Triple Crown that came with good benefits. But he lost that job, and the benefits, when the company slashed its local workforce from 240 people to just 40. He found another position as a dispatcher with a small trucking company pretty quickly, and it came with $1,000 more a year in pay. The problem, however, was the switch would mean a health insurance bill for the family of $18,000 a year.

“That was a huge hit for us to realize that we could not financially insure our family,” Jessica said.

The family knew a month or so in advance that his job at Triple Crown would be cut, and he immediately started looking for something else. The trucking company where he now works was the first to make him an offer.

“We went over and over our finances. We looked at the option of taking this job with no insurance, or sitting on unemployment to look for something else. But unemployment would not have met our monthly bills. We felt that this was the choice we had to make,” Jessica explained.

The stress of coping

Long before she met Ken, Jessica was a single mother of Liam, her son from a previous relationship. There were times she struggled, times she didn’t have a job, and the fear that she couldn’t provide for her child stuck with her. When Ken lost his job, “I had that memory. I had been through that before, so it hit me a lot harder than it hit him,” she acknowledged.

“Jessica can be very intense and over-stressed about things, and I am the complete opposite,” Ken agreed.

From a small town in Ohio, Jessica came to Fort Wayne to go to Taylor University, where she lasted about two years and changed her major several times.

When Liam was was born, she went back to work after just three weeks, but she couldn’t also handle the burden of being a full-time student. She decided to switch to Brown-Mackie College, which had a more manageable schedule, to get a quick two-year degree that she hoped would allow her to earn better wages.

“It was very important to me. I didn’t want to have to be getting assistance. I did not want that to be who we were,” she said. “I made my mistakes. I wanted to grow from them and teach my children better.”

Cost of getting ahead

Unfortunately, between Taylor and Brown-Mackie, where she got an associate’s degree in medical assisting, she racked up student loans that now total about $69,000. Worse yet, she still qualified only for relatively poor-paying jobs.

“What I paid for my education, I would never be able to make that back. My salary was not aligned with what I paid,” she said.

Because she qualifies for a low-income deferment, Jessica does not have to make payments on the student loans. “But I think they’re still adding up interest,” she said.

“It’s sad. Our house was not $69,000. We owe more for my student loans than we do for our home,” Jessica said.

The couple also qualified for down-payment assistance and closing costs from the state when they bought their home four years ago. The older two-story home was solid but plain, and had been on the market for more than two years, so they were able to purchase it for $30,000 less than asking price.

“It was a steal – much more affordable than an apartment,” she boasted.

Another grant, from a weatherization program, helped them pay to replace the 36-year-old furnace. Ken, who readily admits he’s never been very handy, now relies on YouTube videos and friends to help him figure out how to do as many home repairs himself as he can.

“You can find everything on YouTube,” he said.

Counting pennies

Because they budget so carefully, the Butterfields usually have a little left over at the end of the month for fun things with their children.

“It’s enough to cover that, but not to build up any savings,” she said.

Jessica is better than he is at tracking their spending, Ken said. She’s also the one who makes sure bills are paid, and she does almost all of the shopping for the family.

“Other than buying presents, or when she sends me out to get something, I can’t think of much of any spending I do,” he said.

‘Worry about tomorrow — tomorrow’

Ken has considered seeking training in something like the building trades, for example, that would allow him to advance into a better-paying career. And Jessica has thought about going back to work herself one day, when the kids are older, but isn’t keen on the idea.

“We chose to have these kids, not because we wanted somebody else to raise them,” she said. “It would be hard. I don’t know that I could do it.”

It wouldn’t take a lot to make their lives easier, the two agreed. Ken’s wish would be for better support systems for child care, for advice; maybe even a chance to go out with other couples some times. Jessica’s wish is more concrete.

“If we had health insurance and another 10 grand a year, then we would have a little cushion,” she said.

“Do I worry? Day to day, no, but if something goes wrong, then I do start. If the sink leaks, I think, what if this is a much bigger deal? I start to worry about that, but it’s not a day-to-day thing,” she said.

“I feel pretty confident that we’re taken care of — today. And we’ll worry about tomorrow — tomorrow.”

Learning Link reports on educational progress

Written October 19th, 2015 by
Categories: In The News

The Star – October 19, 2015

AUBURN — Learning Link, an education initiative of the Community Foundation DeKalb County, recently held its semiannual community meeting at the First United Methodist Church in Auburn.

“We travel with these meetings so we can hear from you as community members. We always want to inform and attract new people and ensure Learning Link is working countywide,” said Ken McCrory, chair of the Learning Link Steering Committee.

Guests heard the accomplishments of Learning Link’s action teams, made up of volunteers who focus on one or more segments of the lifelong learning continuum, from cradle to career. These teams work together to align organizations around common goals to improve learning outcomes for DeKalb County residents of all ages.

Sarah Speer, United Way Impact Grant specialist, began the reports, stating the biggest challenge for the “Zero to Three” team is reaching parents who can benefit from their Let’s Talk message, a program that encourages parents to talk to their babies from birth.

Deb Argast and Wayne Funk presented the results of the county’s 2015 kindergarten-readiness screening. Argast shared that 49 percent of incoming kindergarten students were screened as “ready” in the areas of academic, language and social skills, up from 46 percent in 2014.

“Which of these areas do you think is the most important if we want our children to succeed in kindergarten?” Funk asked of the audience. By a show of hands, the majority of those present were aware that children’s social competence was most important to their success in school.

Chris Straw of Team Quality Services and Rebecca Pfeffer of DeKalb Central Schools discussed the school-business partnerships team’s goal of improving students’ college and career readiness, defined as “individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in post-secondary education and economically viable career opportunities.”

Pfeffer shared that each school’s college and career readiness is measured by the state as the percentage of students who passed an advanced placement exam or an industry certification exam, or earned college credits in their high school career. DeKalb County’s percentage of “college and career ready” students has doubled from 2012 to 2014, increasing from 37 percent to 67 percent, and places second only to Adams County in the 10-county northeast Indiana region.

Reporting for the Career Success Coalition was Rod Knox. He shared the coalition’s mission as helping Hoosier students of all ages plan, prepare, and pay for learning beyond high school through effective communications and outreach efforts. A 2015-2016 goal of the coalition, according to Knox, is to “increase the number of DeKalb County students completing the FASFA, or federal student aid application, so they are eligible for financial assistance and can receive scholarships for college or career training.”

Highlighting measures indicating progress for the education and training team, Mark Franke disclosed that the number of people in DeKalb County who earned an HSE (high school equivalency diploma, previously called the GED), dropped 48 percent from 2014-2015, while the number of DeKalb County adults without a high school diploma remains unchanged. “More people are working now than they have been in recent years,” Franke explained.

“Because kids don’t come with instructions,” was the key message as Jerry Yoder focused on Parent Learning. The team’s main focus is creating awareness of the many resources for DeKalb County parents to enhance their skills as parents. The team’s survey of parents’ biggest challenges conducted at events across the county found that “time” is the biggest barrier to taking advantage of resources to help parents. Yoder emphasized why he feels educational success and alignment with Learning Link is so important, saying, “It’s amazing when you’ve been working next to someone for eight years and then you learn they can’t read.”

Numerous questions were asked of Learning Link team members following the presentations. Covering a variety of topics, questions ranged from the importance of maintaining a focus on the arts in schools, to the cost of sending every DeKalb County child to preschool, to the caseloads of students served by guidance counselors, to instilling our young adults with strong work ethics.

Planning a change to the meeting format in April, Learning Link will host its next community meeting in Garrett. For questions or more information, people may contact Judy Sorg, director of Learning Link DeKalb County, at the Community Foundation, 925-0311, or e-mail JSorg@CFDeKalb.org. Information is also available at LLDeKalb.org. Learning Link provides a platform upon which community members work together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County.

Working together and not on separate islands

Written October 3rd, 2015 by
Categories: In The News

The Star – October 3, 2015

By Jennifer Decker

Not every high school graduate will pursue a four-year college degree. Other educational vocational opportunities are available and will be highlighted at upcoming local open houses.

Open houses with adult education focus will be held in DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble and Steuben counties. Representatives will be present from Freedom Academy, Impact Institute, Indiana Tech and Ivy Tech Community College.

The four entities partner in Northeastern Indiana.

Freedom Academy Executive Director Melissa Carpenter said it’s about ongoing education and growing higher on each level.

“This focus is to find individuals who don’t have high school diplomas and individuals looking for the next step,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said employment trends show a need for certified welders, industrial maintenance workers and those seeking QuickBooks training.

Carpenter noted Freedom Academy has a presence in each of the four counties in different ways.

“We partnered with DeKalb Memorial and Impact for medical certification. DeKalb County’s always been a good supporter. Ambassador Enterprises is renovating the former YMCA building, and we’re looking at bringing just about every training program there,” Carpenter said.

In LaGrange County, she said things are picking up with job training: “We partner with the chamber, and we’ve done ‘lunch and learns.’ In the last year, we’ve worked with LaGrange County Career Success, a coalition.”

In Noble County, she said, Freedom Academy works with Noble County Economic Development Corp. and Junior Achievement. A Skill Link program through Northeast Indiana Works has also been added. It allows employees to earn certifications for in-demand jobs.

Eyes in Steuben County are on the proposed Northern Indiana Lakes County Enterprise Center on Angola’s south side. The center is planned for a five-building campus on 4.23 acres and would include technical and industrial training space that would house Ivy Tech and Freedom Academy. It would serve as a business incubator.

Freedom Academy also operates the growing Angola Training Center, but Carpenter said it lacks welding equipment. She said classes at the Angola location are going well, and demand is there. In particular, she said training courses in industrial maintenance and soft skills are popular. “Steuben County is stellar,” Carpenter said. “What’s nice about the Mill Street location is we e-blast, and (employers) send a few employees” for training.”

Impact Institute, in Kendallville, fills different educational purposes for high school and adult students. Stephanie Ross, Impact’s director of adult education, said she will also focus on adult education at the open house. Impact serves students between ages 16-84 at no cost to those who qualify.

“We can help people prepare for the high school equivalency diploma, repair credit. We do the entrance exam, Accuplacer, for Ivy Tech. We offer remediation classes,” Ross said. “We work with WorkOne and offer certification. We’re not only helping with high school diplomas, but setting the up with skill sets and having more opportunity.”

Ross said Work Indiana Training certifications are determined by workforce development demand. Some of those certifications include bookkeeping; electronics; and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling. “Welders, CNC and truck driving seem to be most in demand,” Ross said. Impact will be be adding a call center certification, Ross said. The certification is in demand in Fort Wayne and Huntington and is geared toward customer service and technical support.

Ross said education involves teamwork between different entities. “It’s all these partnerships … This is key — we’re all working together and not on separate islands,” Ross said.

Carol Platt, Indiana Tech admissions representative, said people are busy between work and family, but still can take advantage of training.

“(We) offer evening and weekend classes for adults who want to take classes when it’s convenient for them. If you have a busy life schedule and still want to take college classes, then our online education program may be perfect for you. Indiana Tech provides flexible degree options for our veterans and those who serve in the armed forces,” she said in an email.

Platt said offering real-world experience makes a difference.

“For students at most colleges and universities, the high cost of purchasing textbooks each semester is an unpleasant surprise. Indiana Tech is different. For all students in undergraduate and master’s degree programs, textbook rental is included in the cost of tuition. Our students learn theory and practice from faculty that are considered industry leaders and innovators, who weave professional experiences and firsthand knowledge into academically rigorous curricula,” she said.

Platt said Indiana Tech undergraduate classes start every five weeks. Programs offered are: associate of science, bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees. Graduate-level classes start every six weeks with master’s degrees in business administration and science.

Tanya Young, director of community engagement for Ivy Tech Community College, said education is far more affordable than people realize.

“Ivy Tech Community College prepares Indiana residents to learn, live, and work in a diverse and globally competitive environment by delivering professional, technical, transfer, and lifelong education,” Young said. “Ivy Tech is the state’s most affordable college. Students can earn a degree for around $3,995 a year. And with credits that transfer, students can save money by completing the first two years of a four-year degree at Ivy Tech.”

Young said Ivy Tech students find personal attention close to home, as the average class size is only about 22 students.

“We also offer the benefits of a large institution in terms of accessibility,” Young said. “You can earn a degree at one of the 32 degree-granting locations throughout the state, and take classes in more than 75 communities. Some of the community locations in the four-northern counties of Northeast Indiana include Kendallville and Ashley. Those facilities include Impact Institute and Ashley Community Center. And lastly, Ivy Tech’s Corporate College offers local, affordable solutions for Indiana business and industry training needs. These customized short-term training programs are based upon the current local workforce needs and include areas such as welding and industrial technology, just to name a few.”

For more details on Freedom Academy, visit freedomacademy.net or call 800-200-6499.

For more details on Indiana Tech, visit IndianaTech.edu or call 800-288-1766.

For more details on Ivy Tech, visit ivytech.edu or call 888-489-5463.

For more details on IMPACT Institute, visit impactinstitute.net or call 888-349-0250.

Education open houses

  • DeKalb County’s open house will be at the YMCA of DeKalb County, 533 North St., Auburn, Thursday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to noon.
  • LaGrange County’s open house will be at the LaGrange County Public Library, 203 W. Spring St., LaGrange, Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 2-4 p.m.
  • Noble County’s open house will be at the Kendallville Public Library, 221 S. Park Ave., Kendallville, Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to noon.
  • Steuben County’s open house will be at the Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County, 322 S. Wayne St., Angola, Thursday, Oct. 15, from 2-4 p.m.

Educators, employers seek success formula

Written September 23rd, 2015 by
Categories: In The News

THE STAR, September 23, 2015

AUBURN — Business leaders and education officials from DeKalb, Steuben, Noble and LaGrange counties came together Thursday to help teachers, employers and youth-serving professionals learn what students need to succeed after high school in northeast Indiana.

The four-county business and education summit, “Postsecondary Pathways: Connecting Education to Careers for Student Success,” at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automoibile Museum was attended by 114 people.

Those attending learned about the types of careers available in northeast Indiana and what it will take for students to land jobs in those fields.

“The idea is to bring together business, industry and education to talk about what the local needs are. What does business and industry need from education? What do educators think they need from business and industry? It’s an opportunity for discussion between these entities,” said Indiana Youth Institute interim CEO Glenn Augustine.

He said participants discussed educational needs for employment, including a high school diploma or GED certifications and degrees. There also was discussion on soft skills that set individuals apart, such as the ability to communicate, work as a team, show up for work on time, maintain eye contact while conversing and fill out a job application.

“The northeast corner of Indiana will have 7,900 job openings in the next decade,” said Kate Coffman, program director for college and career counseling with the Indiana Youth Institute. “We want to help educators and those who work with youth understand what these jobs look like, what skills are required and how students can best be prepared.”

According to the spring 2015 Learn More Indiana Survey, nearly three-quarters of 12th-grade students who were surveyed in the four-county region intended to go to a two- or four-year college in the first year out of high school. Four percent planned to pursue a certificate program through an apprenticeship or career-technical college. The rest intended to join the military or head directly into the workforce, or were uncertain of their future plans.

“All Hoosier students need to know what their options are after high school, especially when it comes to opportunities in their own hometowns,” said Augustine. “IYI is excited to partner with area organizations to connect local businesses, teachers, school counselors and others who work with youth. Our hope is this event will provide more awareness of the career possibilities for students in northeast Indiana.”

The event featured speakers and panel discussions. Indiana Commission for Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers delivered the opening address.

“We’re hoping that this is the beginning of the discussion,” Augustine said. “We’re starting the discussion about how business and education and industry can work together to meet each other’s needs.”

The event was made possible by J.P.Morgan Chase, Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Learning Link DeKalb County, DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education, Indiana Works Council Region 3, Ivy Tech Community College, LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., Invest Steuben, Noble County Economic Development Corp., DeKalb County Indiana’s Career Success Coalition and Indiana Youth Institute.

Learning Link plans community meeting

Written September 17th, 2015 by
Categories: In The News

THE STAR, September 17, 2015

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED Cindy Snyder of the Butler Filling Station Youth Center, Angela Nordmann of Purdue Extension of DeKalb County and Melissa Eshbach of Star Technologies gather at Learning Link’s community meeting last April in Butler. Semi-annual meetings move to different communities within the county to attract new voices and ensure countywide participation. The next meeting will be in Auburn at the First United Methodist Church Oct. 8. The event is free and open to the public.

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
Cindy Snyder of the Butler Filling Station Youth Center, Angela Nordmann of Purdue Extension of DeKalb County and Melissa Eshbach of Star Technologies gather at Learning Link’s community meeting last April in Butler. Semi-annual meetings move to different communities within the county to attract new voices and ensure countywide participation. The next meeting will be in Auburn at the First United Methodist Church Oct. 8. The event is free and open to the public.

AUBURN — Learning Link, an education initiative of Community Foundation DeKalb County, will host a community meeting in Auburn on Thursday, Oct. 8, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 1203 E. Seventh St.

Anyone with an interest in working collectively to improve education levels in DeKalb County is encouraged to attend, organizers said.

“Improving education in our community relies on a supportive and aligned community of organizations and individuals, all working toward a common goal. It’s like rowing a boat, you have to work together,” said Judy Sorg, director of the initiative.

Creating a culture of lifelong learning to raise education levels at all ages is Learning Link’s broad goal. Three areas, led by volunteer action teams, are addressed — early childhood learning, kindergarten to 12th-grade education and adult learning, including parenting education.

The purpose of the Oct. 8 working dinner meeting is to share the successes and challenges, along with supporting data within each of the focus areas, and hear the voices of community members.

“I appreciate what Learning Link is doing in DeKalb County. Education, or skills training, is the key to a thriving community. We need to develop the talent if we hope to retain and attract new business and industry” said Ken McCrory, Learning Link steering committee chair and director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership.

“The community foundation places a high priority on its education initiative, so we appreciate the participation of so many community members and education providers. Team members are dedicated to improving lives through education and training in all forms and at all ages. We hope to see them, along with other individuals or organizations excited about improving our county through learning at all ages, on Oct. 8 in Auburn,” said Wendy Oberlin, the Community Foundation’s executive director.

Dinner will be provided by replying to Ashton Zartman at the Community Foundation of DeKalb County, AZartman@CFDeKalb.org, or call 925-0311 by Oct. 1. For more information, call Sorg at 925-0311, or e-mail JSorg@CFDeKalb.org.

Learning Link April 2015 Community Meeting

Written April 21st, 2015 by
Categories: In The News

The Star – April 21, 2015

Cindy Snyder, left, of The Filling Station Youth Center of Butler, Angela Nordmann of DeKalb County Purdue Extension, and Melissa Eshbach, of Star Technology and a community foundation board member, share feedback at Learning Link’s community meeting at Eastside Junior-Senior High School April 13.

Cindy Snyder, left, of The Filling Station Youth Center of Butler, Angela Nordmann of DeKalb County Purdue Extension, and Melissa Eshbach, of Star Technology and a community foundation board member, share feedback at Learning Link’s community meeting at Eastside Junior-Senior High School April 13.

BUTLER — Learning Link, an education initiative of the Community Foundation DeKalb County, held its spring community meeting April 13 at Eastside Junior-Senior High School.

“Our purpose for these meetings is to inform, engage new people, and ensure Learning Link is working countywide,” stated Ken McCrory, chairman of the Learning Link Steering Committee.

Approximately 60 people heard the most recent accomplishments of Learning Link’s action teams. Action teams are groups of volunteers focused on one piece of the lifelong learning continuum, from early childhood to adult education. “Collectively, they work to advance education levels countywide,” said Judy Sorg, director of the education initiative for the community foundation. Teams work to align organizations around common goals to improve learning outcomes for children and adults.

The Parenting Education team asked attendees to “like” and “share” the DeKalb County Parents Facebook page, setting a goal of having 1,000 followers; “today there are 143, ” said Melissa Eshbach. The team started the page to provide easy access to information about upcoming learning opportunities and community events for DeKalb County parents, and asks community members to send information about upcoming events to Sorg at Learning Link, jsorg@cfdekalb.org.

Reporters for the Adult Education & Training team shared results of the March 12 Career Expo, spearheaded by the DeKalb Chamber. Disappointed in the attendance at the Expo, Carol Platt asked attendees for ideas to increase attendance at a 2016 Career Fair. Mark Franke reported that the team “is working to improve data collection of adult post-secondary technical and employment credentials. With year-to-year data, we can analyze it for improvement and identify areas for future efforts.”

Rod Knox, reporting for the Career Success Coalition, encouraged any organizations interested in joining the DeKalb County Coalition to attend a luncheon at Garrett City Hall at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. RSVP to rodrickknox@att.net. The Coalition works to help students and adults plan, prepare and pay for college.

Ryan Twiss, left, director of the Big Goal Collaborative, and Marcus Wagner, director of DeKalb New Tech, enjoyed Learning Link’s community meeting in Butler on April 13.

Ryan Twiss, left, director of the Big Goal Collaborative, and Marcus Wagner, director of DeKalb New Tech, enjoyed Learning Link’s community meeting in Butler on April 13.

The School-Business Partnerships team, represented by Chris Straw and Becky Pfeffer, reported several new ideas ranging from sharing information with families about community organizations offering extracurricular programs for youth, to hosting “Tuesday Talks” by business leaders in DeKalb County high schools to share the expanding career options in high growth fields of work.

The Third Grade Literacy team shared that “second- and third-grade NWEA language arts scores countywide are slightly higher this year compared to 2014. We hope to see that continue,” said Marcy Winterholter. Going forward, the team is focusing on community and parent engagement.

Pre-kindergarten team member Connie Fullerton shared that readiness for school “isn’t a mere checklist. The research tells us that children’s readiness for school is built on a strong foundation of social and emotional development, being independent, cooperative, caring, curious, and problem solvers. These skills are developed through play, interaction, and language. In this way, letters and numbers take on meaning, setting the stage for success,” Fullerton said.

Sherry Crisp-Ridge, director of DeKalb Central’s preschool, shared that United Way’s Let’s Talk initiative, promotes “talking to your baby” through visits with new parents at DeKalb Health. By age three, a disadvantaged child has heard 30 million fewer words than an advantaged child. As part of United Way’s early learning initiative, Let’s Talk is one more effort to increase the number of DeKalb County children prepared for early success in school, the long-term goal of Learning Link’s Early Childhood team.

Learning Link will host its next community meeting on Thursday, October 8 at First United Methodist Church in Auburn.

For questions or more information, contact Judy Sorg at the Community Foundation, 260-925-0311, or email jsorg@cfdekalb.org. Information is also available at lldekalb.org. Learning Link provides a platform upon which community members work together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County.

 

Learning Link April 2015 Community Meeting

Written April 20th, 2015 by
Categories: In The News

THE STAR, April 20, 2015

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED Cindy Snyder, left, of The Filling Station Youth Center of Butler, Angela Nordmann of DeKalb County Purdue Extension, and Melissa Eshbach, of Star Technology and a community foundation board member, share feedback at Learning Link’s community meeting at Eastside Junior-Senior High School April 13.

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
Cindy Snyder, left, of The Filling Station Youth Center of Butler, Angela Nordmann of DeKalb County Purdue Extension, and Melissa Eshbach, of Star Technology and a community foundation board member, share feedback at Learning Link’s community meeting at Eastside Junior-Senior High School April 13.

BUTLER — Learning Link, an education initiative of the Community Foundation DeKalb County, held its spring community meeting April 13 at Eastside Junior-Senior High School.

“Our purpose for these meetings is to inform, engage new people, and ensure Learning Link is working countywide,” stated Ken McCrory, chairman of the Learning Link Steering Committee.

Approximately 60 people heard the most recent accomplishments of Learning Link’s action teams. Action teams are groups of volunteers focused on one piece of the lifelong learning continuum, from early childhood to adult education. “Collectively, they work to advance education levels countywide,” said Judy Sorg, director of the education initiative for the community foundation. Teams work to align organizations around common goals to improve learning outcomes for children and adults.

The Parenting Education team asked attendees to “like” and “share” the DeKalb County Parents Facebook page, setting a goal of having 1,000 followers; “today there are 143, ” said Melissa Eshbach. The team started the page to provide easy access to information about upcoming learning opportunities and community events for DeKalb County parents, and asks community members to send information about upcoming events to Sorg at Learning Link, jsorg@cfdekalb.org.

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED Ryan Twiss, left, director of the Big Goal Collaborative, and Marcus Wagner, director of DeKalb New Tech, enjoyed Learning Link’s community meeting in Butler on April 13.

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED
Ryan Twiss, left, director of the Big Goal Collaborative, and Marcus Wagner, director of DeKalb New Tech, enjoyed Learning Link’s community meeting in Butler on April 13.

Reporters for the Adult Education & Training team shared results of the March 12 Career Expo, spearheaded by the DeKalb Chamber. Disappointed in the attendance at the Expo, Carol Platt asked attendees for ideas to increase attendance at a 2016 Career Fair. Mark Franke reported that the team “is working to improve data collection of adult post-secondary technical and employment credentials. With year-to-year data, we can analyze it for improvement and identify areas for future efforts.”

Rod Knox, reporting for the Career Success Coalition, encouraged any organizations interested in joining the DeKalb County Coalition to attend a luncheon at Garrett City Hall at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. RSVP to rodrickknox@att.net. The Coalition works to help students and adults plan, prepare and pay for college.

The School-Business Partnerships team, represented by Chris Straw and Becky Pfeffer, reported several new ideas ranging from sharing information with families about community organizations offering extracurricular programs for youth, to hosting “Tuesday Talks” by business leaders in DeKalb County high schools to share the expanding career options in high growth fields of work.

The Third Grade Literacy team shared that “second- and third-grade NWEA language arts scores countywide are slightly higher this year compared to 2014. We hope to see that continue,” said Marcy Winterholter. Going forward, the team is focusing on community and parent engagement.

Pre-kindergarten team member Connie Fullerton shared that readiness for school “isn’t a mere checklist. The research tells us that children’s readiness for school is built on a strong foundation of social and emotional development, being independent, cooperative, caring, curious, and problem solvers. These skills are developed through play, interaction, and language. In this way, letters and numbers take on meaning, setting the stage for success,” Fullerton said.

Sherry Crisp-Ridge, director of DeKalb Central’s preschool, shared that United Way’s Let’s Talk initiative, promotes “talking to your baby” through visits with new parents at DeKalb Health. By age three, a disadvantaged child has heard 30 million fewer words than an advantaged child. As part of United Way’s early learning initiative, Let’s Talk is one more effort to increase the number of DeKalb County children prepared for early success in school, the long-term goal of Learning Link’s Early Childhood team.

Learning Link will host its next community meeting on Thursday, October 8 at First United Methodist Church in Auburn.

For questions or more information, contact Judy Sorg at the Community Foundation, 260-925-0311, or email jsorg@cfdekalb.org. Information is also available at lldekalb.org. Learning Link provides a platform upon which community members work together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County.

Learning Link plans meeting April 13

Written March 23rd, 2015 by
Categories: In The News

The Star – March 23, 2015

BUTLER — Learning Link, an education initiative of Community Foundation DeKalb County, is inviting community members countywide to its upcoming community meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 13, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Eastside Junior-Senior High School, 603 E. Green St., Butler. The organization said anyone with an interest in education in DeKalb County is encouraged to attend.

Learning Link DeKalb County is a framework upon which community members and organizations across sectors can contribute to achieving the community’s vision of working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all.

“Improving education in our community relies on a supportive and aligned community of organizations and individuals. No single organization can do this alone,” said Judy Sorg, director of the initiative. “Learning Link’s success requires a diverse group of community organizations, educators and individuals working together toward a shared goal. Like rowing a boat, the power comes from the coordination of these activities that reinforce each other and support the common vision.”

Creating a culture of lifelong learning to raise education levels at all ages is Learning Link’s broad goal. Three areas, led by volunteer action teams, are addressed — early childhood learning, kindergarten to 12th-grade education and adult learning, including parenting skills.

The purpose of the April 13 working dinner meeting is to share the successes and challenges, along with supporting data, within each of the focus areas, and hear the voices of community members in attendance.

“I appreciate what Learning Link is doing in DeKalb County. Education, or skills training, in our case, is the key to a thriving community. We need to develop the talent if we hope to retain and attract new business and industry,” said Ken McCrory, Learning Link Steering Committee chair and director of the DeKalb County Economic Development Partnership.

“The community foundation places a high priority on its education initiative, so we appreciate the participation of so many community members and education program providers. Team members are dedicated to improving lives through education or training in all forms and at all ages. We hope to see them, along with other individuals or organizations excited about improving our county through learning, April 13 in Butler,” said Wendy Oberlin, the community foundation’s executive director.

Dinner will be provided with an RSVP to Kirston Warfield at the Community Foundation of DeKalb County, 925-0311, or an e-mail to Intern@CFDeKalb.org, by April 8. For more information, call Judy Sorg at 925-0311 or send e-mail to her at JSorg@CFDeKalb.org.