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

October 14, 2013 Learning Link Community Meeting Minutes

Written November 1st, 2013 by
Categories: Learning Link Community Meeting Minutes

First United Methodist Church, 1203 E. Seventh Street, Auburn, IN

October 14, 2013, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

PRESENT : Holly Albright, Molly Arens, Deborah Argast, Paulette Bentley, Jeffrey Burns, Rebecca Carothers, Shannon Carpenter, Lisa Christen, Megan Curtis, Pamela Deetz, Randall Deetz, Kelly Dunham, Melissa Eshbach, Kay Finchum, Mark Franke, Shannon Gage, Sherry Grate, Sherry Hanchar, Julie Hill-Lauer, Sue Houser, Julie Isbell, Shirley Johnson, Kyle Kirby, Rodrick Knox, Suzanne Laker, Kaylee Lettau, Mark Levy, Julie Lochner, Nora McCann, Ken McCrory, Brad McDaniel, John Ober, Wendy Oberlin, Becky Pfeffer, Trisha Prezbindowski, Mary Ellen Rayle, Terry Rayle, Jennifer Redwine, Karen Rice, Julia Rice, Alison Rynearson, Megan Satkowiak, Barry Schrock, Sonja Situm, Charles Schmidt, Ben Smaltz, Judy Sorg, Chris Straw, Alyce Thompson, Julia Tipton, Matt Toth, Jeffrey Turner, Ryan Twiss, Sandra Wilcox, Jerry Yoder, Norman Yoder, Paula Yoder, Tanya Young, Pat Zakula, Callie Zonker (McDougald). Total: 61


  • Turner asked guests to consider “team questions” during dinner. Questions were listed on a handout on dinner tables and revolving on the screen.


  • Burns introduced Learning Link team reporters and the agenda for the working dinner meeting.

See “What We’re Doing and What We’ve Accomplished” for each team. Reporters were:
• Adult Lifelong Learning/Parenting Education – Melissa Eshbach, Star Technologies
• Adult Lifelong Learning/Education & Training – Jerry Yoder, Lean Enterprise Software Solutions
• K-12/School-business partnerships – Chris Straw, Team Quality Services; Becky Pfeffer, DeKalb Central Community Connections Coordinator
• Kindergarten-12th grade education/3rd grade literacy – Julia Tipton, McKenney-Harrison; Megan Curtis, Waterloo Elementary
• Early Childhood – Deb Argast, community volunteer

Some of the discussion items, including comments and suggestions for moving teams forward were:

Adult Lifelong Learning/Parenting Education
Is there a better outcome to measure progress than “participation numbers” in parenting education programs? Our challenge is the substantial impact personnel and/or funding can have on participation numbers.
• Possibly use hits on the website.
• “We can all benefit from being better parents.”
• A lot of the funding for parenting classes is restricted to low-income or court-ordered participants. Classes of mixed participants are more effective.

Adult Lifelong Learning/Education & Training
How might we overcome some of the barriers to attract more high school juniors and seniors to the 2014 Career Development Expo on February 27?
• Utilize buses.
• DeKalb Central has BTV (Baron television station).
• Maybe promote it as a venue for students to look for internship opportunities.
• More promotion, description of relevance to students, increased awareness of benefits, students are looking for authentic experiences
• Promotional video
• Incentive to students – extra credit, giveaways
• Notifying students of the starting wages of employers who will be present.
• Please use the Career Expo as a way to raise awareness of career opportunities in the manufacturing field.
• Career/college success education should start in pre-school.

Is there a need for career “mentors” or “advisors” to help high school students with post-secondary planning?
• Yes. One audience member reported she was a successful college student in part because she found a mentor outside of school.
• Use college seniors, community leaders, people with broad-based backgrounds.
• Use post-secondary advisors/education professionals?

K-12/School-business Partnerships
High schools are partnering with businesses in many ways. What other ways would you like to see business and community organizations working with high schools?
• Invite some guest speakers to be mentors.
• Host something for parents to let them know about career opportunities for their kids and/or opportunities for their kids to learn about careers.
• Students want authenticity, real world experiences.
• Could do “lunch with CEOs” and students.

How might we best market our Guest Speaker list to teachers?
• Get them excited about the list.
• Suggested that teachers provide guest speakers very specific instructions re: what their needs are.
• Create business cards for reminders.
• Involve more small businesses.

K-12/3rd Grade Literacy
What questions or confusions do parents have regarding grade level measurements for reading and other curriculum?
• Why is there so much testing? My children are becoming test-weary.
• The reason why there is so much testing is that if they used only one test, it would provide a very narrow picture of the student. The schools use three data points and combine that information to get a complete picture of how students are doing. “We used to just hope kids got it. Now what’s happening between this testing is really good instruction,” stated Julia Tipton.
• NWEA measures growth. Other tests measure different things (I-READ 3, benchmark reading levels).
• Student-led conferences between teacher and parents have been successful for DeKalb Central.
• Common to see literacy levels fall in 4th grade, shared Julia Tipton, McKenney-Harrison.
• Also need to bridge the gap from elementary to middle school.

Early Childhood Learning
What are the barriers for families in accessing high quality early education programs; and how might we address these barriers?
• Spread knowledge and awareness of how important early education is.
• Finances
• Differing values
• Remember that not all families have Internet access.
• Younger siblings can be a barrier when trying to reach or go to events.
• Some parts of our county don’t have a pre-school (Ashley).
• Parents can provide quality early childhood education.
• Early childhood educators need to agree on what children need to know and make learning fun so children love it.
• Educating people on the differences between preschool, quality child care and education opportunities.