Written by: Taylor Bundren

Although most local schools are out for the summer, many educators and representatives from local K-12 schools and colleges took time out of their schedules to gather at READY NWI’s 2019 Summer Institute. The Summer Institute’s focus was Schools & Community: Partners in Student Success.

Held at Hobart High School, the 8th Annual Summer Institute included speakers from local and state-wide organizations, breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and a continental breakfast for those in attendance.

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READY NWI is a partnership with employers, K-12, and higher education that assists students in preparing for academically, socially, and financially successful lives after high school.

Dr. Peggy Buffington, Superintendent of the School City of Hobart and the Chair of READY NWI said that this year’s institute focused on career pathways. The speakers also focused on what stands in the way of opportunity, like addiction and the juuling trend, and focused on social-emotional learning.

“We’ve gone everywhere from assessment to credentialing for early college, looking at transcripts, looking at social-emotional learning, and so it’s been a wonderful organization. There’s really none like it in the state,” Buffington said.

President and CEO of Center of Workforce Innovations Linda Woloshansky said that the Center of Workforce Innovations and READY NWI work together to focus on talent and careers.

“We give everybody a platform to share their best practices, what their challenges are, their innovations, and how to solve the problems that they have – it’s always related to careers,” Woloshansky said.

“In past years we’ve brought in a lot of outside experts until they decided this year, we are the experts,” said Roy Vanderford of READY NWI and Center of Workforce Innovations. “We need to talk to each other a little deeper about these topics. That’s why we have them set up as breakout sessions.”

Attendee Brad Docter works in Career & Technical Education at Munster High School.

“I’m looking forward to just learning something. I’m in a role that I have to deal with the graduation pathway, so I want to learn more about that and how we can implement that to run smoothly,” Docter said.

Candy Dodd, Director of Special Initiatives at Ball State University, is a representative of the Innovate WithIN pitch competition, where students can pitch their entrepreneurial ideas for prizes that help fund their ideas. Dodd spoke to the attendees about the opportunities high school students can have through Innovate WithIN.

“I think it benefits students [because] not everyone is ready for a four-year degree. Some of them are very entrepreneurial in the fact that they want to start their own business,” Dodd said. “So the cash prizes are a way to help boost their idea, give them resources that they may not have to continue down that path. It also, I think, gets students to think outside the box.”

After an introduction and opening remarks, attendees went to different breakout sessions. Cynthia Mose-Trevino of Lake Ridge New Tech Schools and Danny Lackey of Merrillville Community Schools spoke about Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and restorative practices in one of the breakout sessions.

“[PBIS is] a way of engaging kids to create a framework for promoting positive behavior, which is conducive to kids being able to thrive in the classroom,” Lackey said.

“I’m most looking forward to hearing what other schools are doing and how they’re being innovative in these types of practices,” Mose-Trevino said.

The educators, school administration, and representatives from different schools had the opportunity to network and speak to each other about how to best benefit their students.

To learn more about READY NWI and its impact on the community, check out https://www.readynwi.com/About/.

For more information on Center of Workforce Innovations, visit https://www.cwicorp.com/.

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