Education alliance, safety coalition rep introduced

NAPPANEE — In what was expected to be an abbreviated session of the Wa-Nee Community Board of School Trustees Monday, Aug. 27, much of the discussion was generated by items that were not featured on the original agenda. Superintendent Joe Sabo informed the board that a few days prior, he had attended a meeting with Brian Wiebe, the incoming executive director for Horizon Education Alliance. Sabo was joined by board members Shawn Johnson and Eric Brown during the informational gathering. Horizon Education Alliance is a locally-based group comprised of a network of regional educators and other representatives striving to strengthen the learning environment from early childhood through the college and young adulthood years.
Sabo expressed a desire to invite Wiebe to visit a future meeting of the board, to give him a means through which to convey his mission and ideals upon taking his new leadership role, which formally begins Oct. 1. Wa-Nee is one of two school districts that does not have an active participation in this organization, with Fairfield being the other.
While members appeared to be receptive to the suggestion, and open to having Wiebe come before the board during the Oct. 22 meeting to give a presentation, there was some concern brought forth as to what level of involvement Wa-Nee should have, if at all, and whether the educational benefits would supersede any sort of financial investment the district might contribute. Another specific example that was raised touched upon Horizon’s potential implementation of volunteers to assist with students in various capacities. 
The board wanted to ensure that such individuals would receive proper training, without adding to the current workload of teachers and administrators, or detracting from their classroom responsibilities. Sabo encouraged the members to keep those issues in mind, and to bring those matters to the table when Wiebe attends the upcoming meeting.  Board president Eric Brown added that he is encouraged by Wiebe’s background, which includes a recent tenure as the executive director of Goshen College’s music center.  Brown further noted that Bruce Stahly, who just retired from his position as superintendent of Goshen Community Schools, has committed to Horizon’s cause as well. Whenever the board decides whether to fully align themselves with Horizon, Sabo pointed out that there will always be many opportunities for students to embrace education outside of a traditional classroom setting, such as Head Start, The Crossing, and the Boys and Girls Club. Sabo also said that Wa-Nee also offers one of the most highly regarded mentoring programs in the area, with more than 150 volunteers serving among the three elementary schools.
During the portion of the meeting when guests are welcome to speak, the board was greeted by Trevor Wendzonka, local liaison for Safe Kids Coalition of Elkhart County. Wendzonka’s appearance was an introductory one, during which he told the members that the Coalition will be making programs available throughout the school year which emphasize the group’s ongoing endeavor towards childhood and family safety. Some of the past and present forum themes have included injury prevention and first aid, bike rodeos, teen driving courses, and proper car seat/seat belt usage. Wendzonka assured the board that all of the activities are offered free of charge.
In the superintendent’s report, Sabo gave preliminary enrollment figures from the start of the 2012-13 school year, and weighed the numbers against projections and student totals from previous seasons. The tentative number that was tallied at the first day was 3,053, which does not factor in enrollment at The Crossing, those residing at Bashor, or those who are classified as Functional Skills students. The number dropped slightly from the May 2012 projection of 3,060, and fell further from August 2011, when 3,078 were registered. Board members also approved a slate of personnel changes, which includes:
Employment — Julie Isbell, part-time Cafeteria at Nappanee Elementary; Teresa Hamsher, substitute Cafeteria; Jessica Substanley, Special Education assistant at NorthWood Middle; Jill Yoder, Special Education assistant at Wakarusa Elementary; Amanda Yoder, Special Education assistant at Nappanee Elementary; and Lindsey Burns, Special Education assistant at NorthWood High.
Resignations — Michelle Ware, Special Education assistant at Wakarusa Elementary; and Michelle Slaven, Prime Time assistant at Woodview Elementary.
The next session of the Board of School Trustees will take place Monday, Sept. 10, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the administration building.