Indiana honors New Market counseling program

The Indiana Department of Education has named New Market Elementary School as a recipient of the Indiana Gold Star School Counseling Award in 2017. Gold Star schools undergo a rigorous process to raise student achievement by creating local community advisory groups that review student data, set specific student goals, and commit to maximizing the time and skills of the school counselor. The official award presentation will be at the Indiana School Counselor Association fall conference in Indianapolis in November.

“Indiana’s Gold Star Schools collaborate with community partners to assist the school counselor in making data-based decisions to ensure that all students are successful,” said IDOE School Counselor Consultant Amanda Culhan. “We recognize New Market Elementary for understanding the tremendous impact that school counselors can have in helping students succeed in school and also to plan for postsecondary success.” 

New Market joins just over 200 Indiana elementary, middle and high schools that have received the Gold Star Award since its inception in 2004. Six years later, IDOE, in collaboration with the Indiana Student Achievement Institute, began offering professional development opportunities for schools interested in aligning their counseling program with the Gold Star model. Schools participate in a one-day workshop, followed by a series of monthly webcasts, to help them make the transformation to the Indiana Gold Star School Counseling model. 

All Indiana Gold Star schools are eligible to receive the nation’s highest recognition — the American School Counselor Association’s Recognized ASCA Model Program or RAMP Award. The award demonstrates that a school is “committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program.” Indiana is the state with the highest number of RAMP Award recipients in the country.

To qualify for both awards, New Market Elementary submitted an online portfolio with documentation that it meets the nine program standards found in Indiana’s Program Standards for School Counseling.

Additionally, Sara Burkhart, Chris Larson, Denise Haulk, Curtis McVay and Lorraine Waling participated in training sessions during the school year and learned how to implement the counseling model. Students, teachers, parents and community members who serve on the local School Counseling Advisory Council also took part in the initiative. This group provided valuable input and feedback as the school counseling initiative was being developed. 

Members of the council include: Karen Branch, Kat Burkhart, Bob Coudret, Adam Cox, Gina Haile, Nick Hedrick, Geoff Knowles, Jeff Korhorn, Andrea McArthur, Monica Nagele, Tim Pearson, Stephanie Rose, Bryan Snook, Stella Snook, George Spencer and Jennifer Watson.

“The school counselor and others at New Market Elementary School have worked hard to ensure that students have an accountable school counseling program that meets their academic, career, and social/emotional development needs,” Sue Reynolds, President of the American Student Achievement Institute said. “These educators and community members are truly dedicated to the community’s young people and are going the extra mile to help students succeed.”

For more information about the local initiative, contact Sara Burkhart at 765-866-0740.

Bennett, Hutson crowned swine champs

North Montgomery junior Layla Bennett and Southmont Junior High seventh-grader Gerald Hutson took top honors at Wednesday’s Montgomery County 4-H Swine Show.

More than 200 hogs and their exhibitors fought through the heat to put on a show that impressed judge Ben Schmaling.

“This is one of the best county shows in America in terms of the quality of pigs,” Schmaling said. “I always enjoy coming to Montgomery County because I know the kids are great and the hogs are superior.”

Bennett’s Berkshire was crowned the grand champion gilt. Since she started showing pigs at age 5, being crowned the best in Montgomery County has been one of her goals.

“This means a lot to me because of the hard work and effort I have put into showing pigs,” Bennett said. “I won something that I really wanted and am very excited.”

Bennett is a member of the Madison Happy Hoosiers 4-H Club. She has been in 4-H for eight years and has shown pigs for six years and also had a crossbred gilt that placed fifth at the swine show.

Schmaling liked her pig’s frame and how she carried herself in the arena. It set her apart from the other pigs in the championship drive. 

Bennett walked her pigs nearly every night in preparation for the fair season. She also washes her pigs daily and has them fed and walked by 7 a.m. every day.

Bennett is the daughter of Wade and Mindy Bennett, whom she thanked for their support. She also thanked the Wells family from Danville, Indiana, where she bought the champion.

The state fair is not in Bennett’s plan, but rather she will keep the gilt to breed on the Bennett farm.

Hutson was all smiles after claiming the top barrow award.

“I was very surprised,” Hutson said. “I did not have any idea how we would do. We have not done any shows but this one, so to win it, is a great feeling.”

Hutson, who has had to balance getting his barrow ready for the swine show and practicing with the newly formed Montgomery County Marching Band, said his pig was easy to show because of its personality.

“This pig is the easiest pig to work with,” Hutson said. “He is pretty chill. He is my favorite pig.”

Hutson has been in 4-H for five years and shown pigs for four years.

The champion exhibitor is the son of Greg and Julie Hutson and he expressed thankfulness for Seth Gillstrap and Macy Zachary for helping him with his pig project.

CARA bridges skills gap

Crawfordsville Adult Resource Academy plans to offer more job placement certifications, part of an effort among adult education centers to bridge the skills gap in the workforce.

CARA was already moving in that direction when it began subcontracting with the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy, which became the fiscal agent of area resource centers through an Indiana Department of Workforce Development grant. The move took effect July 1.

No changes are anticipated to the Crawfordsville program. But Lafayette’s center offers more specialized classes not available through CARA, such as training for commercial driver’s licenses and certified nursing assistants.

CARA also partners with WorkOne to connect students with job opportunities.

A recent National Skills Coalition report sheds new light on the skills gap. The report found there aren’t enough adequately-trained workers in Indiana to fill middle-skill jobs.

Those jobs require training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.

In Indiana, middle-skill jobs make up nearly 60 percent of the labor market, but just 47 percent of workers have the necessary training, according to a press release.

CARA has long offered free classes for students pursuing a high school equivalency diploma, formerly known as the GED. But state officials say that’s no longer enough.

The HSE is now seen as a stepping block to post-secondary, career training or accreditation opportunities.

“There is going to be a big push for us to get our students into that arena instead of just stopping at an HSE,” said Kathy Tobias, Crawfordsville’s adult education director.

Workforce development officials are changing their approach for educating post-secondary students.

A new model now allows students to receive remediation, workplace readiness skills and occupational training within the same class, shortening the time for completing the program and helping retain students.

Those classes would be developed in partnership with a training provider.

“What we saw even once our students got those high school equivalencies, they were still lacking the skills they needed to get into a position... at a level that could sustain their families,” said Marilyn Pitzulo, the state’s associate chief operating officer for adult education.

Tobias encourages local industries to support further education opportunities for their employees. For more information about CARA, call 765-362-2690.

Guard wins senior showman

North Montgomery graduate Jennifer Guard was completely surprised that she won Wednesday’s 2017 Montgomery County Senior Showman competition. The self-proclaimed “horse girl” rose above six other competitors to win the award.

Guard entered the competition with no expectations other than to “have fun.” She said she did not give herself much of a chance because she had not shown any animal during her 10 years in 4-H except one.

“The very first year I showed pigs, and I absolutely hated it,” Guard said. “Showing all the animals is so much different than showing horses.”

The competition consists of each senior showman from dairy, beef, swine, llama, goats, lambs and horses. Although Guard was not optimistic about her chances of winning, the judge chose her as the top showman.

Guard was fortunate she was the top showman from the horse and pony show. 

The show was held one week before the fair started in earnest.

“Since the horse show was earlier, I had an extra week than the other competitors,” Guard said. “Then this week I watched each show to pick up pointers and I talked to a lot of people around the fairgrounds.”

Guard is a member of the Wayne Winners 4-H Club and will attend Purdue University next fall to study medical laboratory science. She also will be a member of the top women’s singing group on campus as she was selected to be in the Purduettes.

Guard is the daughter of Tim and Lori Guard.

Other participants in the competition were: Ty Leader, sheep; Drake Blaydes, swine; Zoe Walbert, dairy; Isaac Fruits, llama, Mackenzie Shepherd, beef.

New MUFFY director begins duties

The new leader of Montgomery United Fund For You wants to bring new energy to the annual campaign and involve more people in the mission to serve local nonprofit agencies.

Terry Armstrong, 63, began his duties Monday as MUFFY’s executive director, coming aboard as the organization gears up for its campaign kickoff this fall. He replaces David Johnson, who left in June.

A licensed social worker, Armstrong’s experience includes directing residential care facilities and counseling children and families. He has lived in or near Montgomery County since 1980.

MUFFY is seeking to revitalize fundraising efforts, bringing on new partners and board members to support services for youth, seniors, families in need and other causes. This year, $300,000 was split between 17 partner agencies from money raised in last year’s campaign.

The organization gave an additional $12,000 to donor-designated agencies.

“We just want to be very community responsive,” Armstrong said, adding the organization wants to help identify and meet needs in the community.

Armstrong has been meeting with each partner agency as he transitions into the new role. He spent Wednesday morning at Ability Services Inc.

“All of them, so far, have been high-quality individuals doing a great job,” he said. “And I’ve just really been impressed.”

Armstrong most recently served as a family consultant for Lifeline Youth and Family Children Services. For 25 years, he was director of programs at ResCare Residential Services in Greencastle, where he worked with juvenile delinquents.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in social work and criminal justice from Anderson University and his master’s from Indiana State University.

In applying for the MUFFY position, Armstrong said he wanted to stay involved in social services without the demands of day-to-day client care.

The board of directors selected Anderson after narrowing down a pool of about 25 applicants, said president Kathy Brown.

“We’re very, very excited to have him as part of MUFFY,” Brown said. “He brings a very strong direct service background.”

For more information on MUFFY or to donate, call 765-362-5484.