Community invited to education conversation

How important is education?Consider these facts: • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 90 percent of high-growth, high-wage jobs will require at least some postsecondary education.• Indiana ranks 43rd in the state in percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher. In Whitley County, 18 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Slightly more than 19 percent of adults statewide have postsecondary degrees.• 80 percent of voters state they think the kind of skills students need to learn to be prepared for jobs in the 21st Century are different from what was needed 20 years ago.So, how does a community go about providing the kind of education its children needs to meet the 21st Century workplace? A workplace that is already — and will continue to be radically different — from the workplace of the 20th Century?The place to start is with a community conversation.Dr. David Dresslar, a lifelong educator who is now the executive director of the Center of Excellence and Leadership in Learning, will provide local residents with a view of what education for our children will need to be.After Dresslar’s talk, those in attendance will break into roundtable discussion groups and share their thoughts and recommendations for action to address education innovation in Whitley County.The program is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Peabody Public Library.Whitley County Community Foundation is hosting the community conversation on education.“Dr. Dresslar is very insightful,” said Foundation executive director September McConnell. “He makes you think, and we thought it would be good for the community to hear these things.”The community conversation is being held independent of any school corporation, McConnell said. “So much of our community seems to be an ‘us vs. them’ mentality,” McConnell said. “We asked the question, ‘how do we turn this community into a we.’McConnell acknowledged that recent battles over construction of a new school, Eagle Tech and referendums have left the community divided.“Our hope is this can be a we community and we can start fresh and go forward,” she said.The program, McConnell said, is in line with the Foundation’s mission — to be a catalyst and a convener.“We are to be a neutral entity to bring a community together and move us forward,” McConnell said.McConnell and her board envisions the upcoming community conversation as a way to get the community working toward a common goal in educating our students and preparing them for the workplace of the future.The event is planned to last about 90 minutes. Refreshments will be served.To make attendance even more enticing, one lucky participant’s name will be drawn to direct a $5,000 grant to the Whitley County School of their choice for STEM-related programs and materials. A teacher’s name will also be drawn to direct a similar $2,500 grant to their classroom. While open to the public, seating is limited and will be allocated on a first-come basis. To reserve a space, call the Community Foundation at 244-5224, or send an e-mail to The event is being offered in conjunction with the Community Foundation’s WhitleyForward initiative.