Podcast: Nurturing Our Young People with Garner Tullis

Garner Tullis of Our Greater Good

ValpoNEXT Coordinator Kathy Sipple speaks with Garner Tullis, Nurturing Our Youth Community Action Committee Leader and Executive Director of Our Greater Good. Tullis explains his ties to ValpoNEXT from its initiation, as well as his current day-job and how it relates to the goals of the Nurturing our Youth initiative. He goes on to describe a study performed by the Social Impact Research Center investigating the social and socioeconomic statuses of Valparaiso residents and how these have changed over time.

Tullis highlights student readiness programs, the need for public engagement in the school system, and the free preschool program Ready, Set, Kindergarten. He goes on to describe the ways he personally is working with the youth of the Valparaiso Community School system, and how passionate adults can also get involved with Valparaiso’s future in its children.

Get a copy of the City Wide Vision Plan document we reference in this episode. << CLICK HERE>>

A link to the population and housing study mentioned in the episode is available as well. <<CLICK HERE>>

This community board meets monthly to address Initiative 2 in the document, which includes:

  • 2a: Invest in Community Schools
  • 2b: Evaluate School Governance
  • 2c: Create a Teacher Excellence Program
  • 2d: Create a Student Readiness Program
  • 2e: Prepare Student Master Plan
  • 2f: Encourage Public Engagement in Schools

Transcript Notes

  • Garner Tullis served as the Interim Coordinator of ValpoNEXT for around 1.5 years before Kathy Sipple was appointed to this role.
  • Tullis now heads the Nurturing our Young People Community Action Committee for ValpoNEXT.
    • Day job is working with children in schools and in school-readiness programs.
  • Action Committee educates people on the state of the union with regards to school demographics (which have undergone a dramatic shift in the last 15-20 years).
    • Paint a picture of our needs and where our strengths are.
  • Study commissioned to investigate affordable housing, social demographics, population demographics, etc.

The population of families that are economically distressed or that are living under the poverty line is growing faster than any other demographic population in Valparaiso. This growth outpaces this same growth in Porter County and every other county in the state of Indiana.

  • The number of low income individuals grew by 40{efe19b6e533915bb0f311f21b6334ede7e6be12ea8cb05defd5c5546279f1067}, from 3,600 people in 2007 to 5,150 in 2013.
  • This CommunityAction Committee has focused on creating a student readiness program based on changes in demographics.
    • There is an opportunity to use secondary education to prepare students for college and trade opportunities.
    • Education must prepare students in our city for adulthood based on the young people present.
  • Encouraging public engagement in our schools.
    • Volunteer alongside teachers and administrators as mentors and tutors.
    • Opportunity for people to spend one hour a week to form a significant and consistent adult relationship.
    • Ready, Set, Kindergarten: Free Pre-K school readiness program for all 4 year olds that meets at every elementary school for 2 hours once a week from September to May: designed so that students are familiar with teachers, school layout, schedules, and more.
  • What are the things that volunteers can participate in immediately, where is the greatest need, and where can we make an impact the fastest?
  • Garner Tullis meets with Cecily Powell and Valparaiso Community Schools students during the school day in order to get youth input.

Getting Involved!

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