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 8, 2012 Learning Link Community Meeting Minutes

Written October 8th, 2012 by
Categories: Learning Link Community Meeting Minutes

New Hope Christian Center

October 8, 2012, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Present: Holly Albright, Carrie Alday, Dailey Allen, Chase Alley, Don Allison, Deb Argast, Dawn Bon Ami, Jeff Burns, Rebecca Carothers, Megan Curtis, Pam Deetz, Linda Dunn, Beth Eis, Nancy Erwin, Melissa Eshbach, Kay Finchum, Nancy Flennery, Mark Franke, Chris Franks, Matt Franks, Connie Fullerton, Janelle Graber, Sherry Grate, Brad Harris, Julie Hill-Lauer, Steve Hissong, Sue Houser, Brennen Kitchen, Bobbie Lee, Julie Lochner, Nora McCann, Ian Mercer, Caleb Miner, DeWayne Nodine, Edmond O’Neal, Jules Overby, Becky Pfeffer, Pam Pierson, Barb Radebaugh, Terry and Mary Ellen Rayle, Adrienne Rogers, Stephanie Ross, Megan Satkowiak, Chuck Schmidt, Derrick Sherck, Sara Simpson, Lisa Smith, Marianne Snyder, John Stafford, Jen Stayer, Jordan Stayer, Steve Teders, Alyce Thompson, Julia Tipton, Matt Toth, Jeffrey Turner, Ryan Twiss, Cindy Wang, Erik Weber, Marcia Weller, Darryl Whittington, Ann Williams, Diane Wilson, Jerry Yoder, Paula Yoder, Tanya Young, Pat Zakula. Total: 69.

Moderator and Learning Link Overview – Jeff Burns

Vision: Working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County.

  • Burns announced that the purpose for getting together was to share the hard work being done throughout the county to improve the quality of life in DeKalb County and solicit the input of attendees. Will want audience input – questions & comments on what is being done to give direction to the action teams as they strive to improve literacy and access to educational resources.
  • Burns acknowledged that improving the quality of life through education and literacy is a worthwhile goal all on its own. However, as a businessman, Burns, of Campbell & Fetter Bank, said he can’t help but look at the economic impact of an educated community.
  • Learning Link coordinates educational resources to ensure that kids come to school ready to learn and that adults have access to all that they need to improve their skills and the outlook for their families.

Team reports


  • Early Childhood – Deb Argast, children’s librarian, community volunteer; and Connie Fullerton, retired elementary teacher from FWCS, now teaching at TLC Preschool
  • Kindergarten-12th grade education (K-12)/3rd grade literacy – Julia Tipton, Principal, McKenney-Harrison Elementary
  • K-12/School-business partnerships – Terry Rayle, Interim Director, DeKalb Chamber Partnership, Lakewood Park Christian School, community volunteer
  • Adult Lifelong Learning/Education & Training – Jerry Yoder, Lean Enterprise Software Solutions, community volunteer
  • Adult Lifelong Learning/Parenting Education – Pam Deetz, First Steps of Northeast Indiana, parenting education teacher; Melissa Eshbach, community volunteer, Star Technologies

Questions and comments:

Questions and comments ranged from whether students entering kindergarten were screened for computer literacy skills, to suggestions for marketing a 2013 Career and Resource Development Fair. Highlights by topic, included:

Early Childhood Learning

  • A “men’s only” parenting class was suggested based on recent Census data: the fastest growing DeKalb County household is the male householder with family, no spouse (2010). An attendee volunteered to work on that with someone.
  • There is not a computer-literacy component to the kindergarten readiness screening.
  • Children First Center provides packets to new parents at DeKalb Health; Pat Zakula stated that they currently don’t have funds to provide families with books.
  • What is the measurement tool you’re using for kindergarten readiness? A diverse team (comprised of kindergarten teachers, preschool teachers, childcare providers, school administrators, business representatives and community members) developed a customized tool based on early learning and school-readiness research, experience with tools that had been used in the past and common agreement. The tool covers skills in three domains: Social, Language and Academic. The tool is expected to evolve over time.
  • Each of the county’s libraries will be contacted for appropriate June – August dates for inclusion in the summer early learning calendar, a project of the early childhood team. The calendar will be given to parents by schools as children are screened for kindergarten readiness.
  • Liked the booklist idea for pre-kindergarten summer learning.
  • What can we do to begin pushing this process of “kindergarten readiness” down to younger ages, 0 – 3 years? We wouldn’t “push down” the kindergarten readiness skills to age 3, but would like to develop age-appropriate expectations for children at younger ages as we go forward.

K-12/3rd Grade Literacy

  • Do the benefits of working to increase 3rd grade literacy levels continue beyond 3rd grade? How is it tracked? Julia Tipton responded that each (school) corporation continues to check through different formative tests such as benchmarking whether a student is on grade level and then they match the intervention to the child. This is all a part of the tiered intervention process. We continue to watch a child’s progress and make sure that they are making adequate growth. If they stop making adequate growth (by our progress monitoring), we either change the intervention, or take the child to a tier 3 which might include testing.
  • Who provides the reading testing for 3rd graders? The state provides the I-READ 3. Public schools are required to conduct the test with strict security in place.
  • Are test scores used for teacher evaluation? No, not in our district (DeKalb Central). We have put the bulk of the evaluation on domain 2, which is teacher instruction which would then transfer into student learning.
  • What is the strategy to increase the number of parents attending DeKalb Reads? It requires teachers making personal contacts with parents, including phone calls and face-to-face meetings. It’s been difficult. When families have signed up, roughly half do not attend. We do our best to accommodate parents and schedules.
  • What kind of effectiveness are you seeing with KiPS (Kindergarten Prep School) at DeKalb Eastern? Brennen Kitchen responded that to date, there is only soft data . . .  teachers are pleased with the program.

K-12/School-business Partnerships

  • What are more ways to connect schools and businesses? Matt Toth, Director of DeKalb New Tech, suggested businesses could submit project ideas that they are currently working on to New Tech. New Tech can have the students think, dream, and possibly come up with solutions to their projects. Toth urged businesses that are interested in partnering with DeKalb New Tech to contact him or the facilitators. They can be involved in listening/critiquing student presentations, guest speaking, facility tours, job shadowing, internships, etc. More information is available at
  • What is your group’s target? Becky Pfeffer responded that the team’s goal is to make 50 speaker connections this school year.
  • What are your measurables? Becky Pfeffer stated that other measurables are increasing the number of students involved in experiential learning opportunities and increasing the number of HOPE mentors at DeKalb High School. Last year they had 10 and this year there are 5 matches, 1:1, between adults and high school students. High schools want more students graduating from high school with college credits and certifications. Pfeffer concluded by inviting businesses to connect with schools.
  • How does a business get on the guest speakers list? Contact Terry Rayle at the DeKalb Chamber Partnership, 925-2100, or Judy Sorg at the foundation office, 260-925-0311 or

Adult Lifelong Learning/Education & Training

  • Social media and ads at NCG Cinema were suggested tools for marketing a 2013 Career and Resource Development Fair.
  • Why do you think the percentage of people ages 25+ with high school/GED went down from 2000 to 2010?This statistic reflects the “highest educational levels attained” for ages 25+. Overall, education levels are rising, starting with increased numbers of students graduating from high school. A higher percentage of adults reported having earned 2- and 4-year degrees in 2010 compared to 2000, thus leaving a lower percentage of adults with only a high school diploma or GED as their highest level of educational attainment.
  • How do you respond to the news articles that say there are plenty of jobs out there, but people don’t want them? They are lower-paying, entry level, manual labor, etc. There were no clear answers but several comments were made:
    • Learning Link is informing students and adults of the skills and knowledge employers need for a competitive workforce and the resources for gaining those skills and knowledge.
    • From 2007-2009, DeKalb County lost many of its highest paying jobs; those jobs are not likely to return anytime soon, according to John Stafford, IPFW Policy Research Institute. This lowered DeKalb County’s average wages as reflected in the 2010 Census data.
    • A change in the length of time unemployment is available may affect job seekers’ interest in obtaining new knowledge and skills.
    • New manufacturing jobs that pay higher wages involve “advanced manufacturing”. Advanced manufacturing jobs tend to require higher levels of math and problem-solving skills than manufacturing jobs of the past.
    • Suggested to promote the “learning fair” using social media, include the links to information in every e-mail; promote at NCG Cinemas.
    • Public libraries can provide basic computer education at local venues or the library.

Adult Lifelong Learning/Parenting Education 

  • A suggestion was made to add library information to
  • Give booklists to parents for summer reading with their children.
  • LOVED the videos! People will respond and relate to them. Good job!
  • How about a high school parenting video?