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

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 or call 800-200-6499.

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

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

For more details on IMPACT Institute, visit 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.