Podcast: Porter County Career Center delivers on multiple ValpoNEXT initiatives

Jon Groth, taken by John J. Watkins by the NWI Times

ValpoNEXT Coordinator Kathy Sipple speaks with Jon Groth at the Porter County Career Center about its programs and successes. This organization is available to every junior and senior high school student in Porter County. It offers a myriad of programs intended to give students a taste of many job fields as well as introduce essential training techniques. The PCCTC is focused on industries and employment, and it gives students a way to demonstrate learned skills to potential employers. With a focus on real-world career readiness, the PCCTC knows that not every student is destined for a four-year university and offers a different approach to entering the workforce. Their website explains the 35+ programs available, as well as the different initiatives underway. Groth explains several ways the Career Center has gone greener in the past decade, and discusses a recent project to save the historic Valparaiso Grand Trunk Railroad Depot.

Transcript Notes

  • The ValpoNEXT initiative 2D is focused on student readiness.

The Porter County Career Center is available to every student in every Porter County high school. It offers 35 different programs, such as automotive technician work, health occupations pre-nursing, welding, machine trades, and more.

    • This program is tied to industry and employment.
        • There is a competency based certificate program that lists the skills they can perform.
      • There are awards for outstanding students, excellent students, work ethic, and honors programs.
    • Students learn how to write resumes, interview skills practice, and a LinkedIn profile.
    • The Porter County Career Center website has several videos that explain how this program helps prepare its students for the workforce.
    • The Career Center allows students to try out their potential field of work before leaving high school and either going to college, undergoing more training, or entering the workforce.
        • They are also connected and prepared to get further training in order to be prepared for specific jobs.
      • Students can avoid college debt and obtain solid employment opportunities through the Porter County Career Center.
    • After the education budget was cut, the program needed to find ways to save money. They began turning off lights and devices when not in use.
        • Now, they use LED lights instead of fluorescent which saved $10/year/fixture (as calculated by the students).
      • Lights now have motion detectors so that they are only on when people are present to use them.
  • Preserved the Valparaiso Grand Trunk Railroad Depot, built in 1912.
    • Moved the historic building to the Porter County Career Center campus in order to preserve it for future generations.

Getting Involved!

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!