Sunday, July 31, 2011

Community College...because of one step

This Fall, Ivy Tech Community College is opening in our small rural town in Indiana.  I go out of my way to drive past the construction site on a weekly basis.  The story of how this came to be is a journey of a group of people who truly believe that education can change the world.

Over 5 years ago we hired a new Superintendent of Schools in Rochester Indiana.  Our school board gave her the directive "This community doesn't value education....change that."  With this in mind, she built her team and they began to ask questions, build relationships, gather data and research innovative school models.

After a year or so of many town hall meetings, public information sessions and data gathering, the decision was made to join the New Tech Network and become a school that promotes deeper learning via Project Based Learning in a technology rich environment. 

This ONE decision is the catalyst that brought Ivy Tech to Rochester.  This year in May of 2011, we graduated our first class to have gone through Zebra New Tech.  These students have learned to collaborate, compromise, lead, follow, innovate, manage their time, write and speak effectively and so many more skills that are never tested by a college entrance exam.

This first class graduated with nearly 600 hours of college credit, either from dual college credit classes taken through online courses  or from our teachers who are ACP certified.  Our graduation rate went from 78% to 93.1% in theses four years. Students are engaged, they have relationships with each other, their teachers and the community. 

This fall the students at Zebra New Tech can walk to a brand new facility they can see from the front door and take college courses side by side with adults from our community.  Because we took that one step towards New Tech, one of 3 of the first schools in Indiana to do so, we have a college in a county where less than 10% of the population has any kind of college education.  I am so proud to have been a part of the team that accepted the challenge to change the way this community views education.  Having a college presence in our town will not just change views, it will change lives.

All this, because of one step. What is your next step?

*I worked for Rochester Community Schools as the Director of Instructional Technology for the past 4 years.  A few weeks ago I was very honored to begin working with New Tech Network as a part of the team that has so inspired our community.


  1. Theresa, welcome to the blog world. Great first post. We who are still working at RCSC are proud of what you and Dr. Howe did for Rochester, all as a part of a great team. Best of luck in your post with NTN.

  2. Thanks, Ted! I know the work will continue with our new team in place. Getting to know/work with you and other awesome community members, was another great benefit of the past four years!