The Star – December 2, 2014
WATERLOO — Learning Link, an education initiative of the Community Foundation DeKalb County, recently held its semi-annual community meeting at New Hope Christian Center in Waterloo.
“Our purpose for these traveling semi-annual meetings is to hear from you, community members countywide. We also want to inform, engage new people and ensure Learning Link is working countywide,” said Ken McCrory, chairman of Learning Link’s steering committee.
An audience of approximately 60 people heard the most recent accomplishments of Learning Link’s action teams. Early childhood team member Connie Fullerton shared that countywide, only 46 percent of entering kindergarten students were screened as ready for success in school.
According to Fullerton, Becky Carothers, early childhood program chair for Ivy Tech Northeast, and data obtained from the Family and Social Services Administration, there is a need to increase the number of quality early care and education slots for DeKalb County children ages 0-5 by 1,874. Quality is defined as a licensed home, licensed center or a registered ministry participating at Level 1 of Paths to Quality or Voluntary Certification Program. Level 1 ensures that the health and safety needs of children are met.
Julia Tipton, reporting for the third-grade literacy team, reported that 97 percent of DeKalb County third-graders passed the IREAD-3 this year, compared to 94 percent in 2013 and 85 percent in 2012. The percentage of DeKalb County third-grade students who passed was higher than both the 10-county northeast Indiana region, at 90.5 percent, and the state, at 90.6 percent. Tipton recognized the teaching community for continuous communication about student performance within schools and the community’s support for that success.
Julie Lochner and Becky Pfeffer, reporting for the school-business partnerships team, announced that at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, over 1,000 DeKalb County students had participated in experiential learning opportunities, such as cadet teaching, vocational training or paid and unpaid internships. The team is also collecting information about community resources for those youth not engaged in extracurricular activities, as well as maintaining a database of guest speakers for use by teachers.
Tanya Young of Ivy Tech Northeast and Stephanie Ross of Impact Institute announced March 12 as the date of the DeKalb Chamber Partnership’s 2015 Career Development Expo for the adult education and training team. They also reported that approximately 28 percent of the DeKalb County adult population ages 25-plus has earned two-, four-year or advanced degrees. It is anticipated that 60 percent of the population will need high -quality credentials by 2025, which is aligned with the expected needs of the workforce by 2018 based on a Georgetown University study in 2013.
Parenting education team members Melissa Eshbach and Dr. Marcus Carlson reported having launched a new Facebook page, facebook.com/DekalbCountyINParents. They encouraged community members to use the site to access information about upcoming learning opportunities and community events for DeKalb County parents.
During the evening, guests and teammates asked questions and offered insights into teams’ efforts. On the topic of educating parents on the importance of early learning, participants suggested sharing information about options for quality child care and education, along with data and statistics, such as “85 percent of the brain is developed in a child’s first three years.”
“The feedback we receive at community meetings is invaluable to Learning Link,” said Wendy Oberlin, executive director of Community Foundation DeKalb County. “We are very appreciative of the community’s continued interest in learning for people of all ages.”
Learning Link will host its next community meeting on Monday, April 13, in Butler. For questions or more information, contact Judy Sorg at the Community Foundation, 925-0311, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available at dekalblearninglink.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.