Program boosts training in principle-based learning

A new program will help undergraduate students and veteran educators receive training and credentials in creating principle-based learning environments for young people. Our board has chosen to support this effort because if there are more high-quality, principle-based learning environments, then there will be more young people building skills, knowledge, and character that will help them grow up to be economically free.

 

From Trine University:

Building on the strength and growth of its Franks School of Education, Trine University will launch Indiana’s first Montessori teacher education degree program to help meet the growing need for teachers with Montessori credentials.

Trine’s Montessori teacher education program will be one of only a few undergraduate programs in the nation offered at the university level, and will provide training that leads toward state-recognized Montessori licensure for both undergraduate students and teachers already in the field.

“While Montessori schools continue to grow, there is a state and nationwide shortage of credentialed teachers,” said Anthony Kline, Ph.D., dean of the Franks School of Education. “In addition, teachers who lack Montessori credentials must complete rigorous training during the summer. This can place a financial strain on schools and the educators receiving the training.”

“Trine University’s Montessori teacher education program will ensure a pipeline of high-quality teachers trained through a Montessori lens to focus on whole-child development. We strongly believe that Montessori training will enhance graduates who teach in traditional school settings as well.”

“We look forward to the impact this new program will have, not only on our university, but on future generations of children who will benefit from a Montessori education and educators trained in the Montessori Method,” said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine University president.

The Montessori Method of education was developed in Italy by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century and is designed to build on the way children inherently learn. Now practiced worldwide, Montessori education is known for individually paced learning and fostering independence, and encouraging empathy, social justice and joy in lifelong learning, according to the American Montessori Society.

The university has begun the search process for hiring a director for Montessori education at Trine, and will announce a timeline for program launch once that person is in place.

Undergraduate students at Trine will receive training to earn Indiana Department of Education licenses in Elementary Generalist (K-6) and Montessori within four years. Through Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education (MACTE) accreditation and American Montessori Society (AMS) affiliation, graduates also will earn credentials to teach students ages 6-9 in Montessori settings.

Current teachers will be able to earn Montessori credentials through summer training programs at Trine and at Oak Farm Montessori School in Avilla. The program could include graduate-level credit that would lead to a Master in Montessori Education degree.

Oak Farm Montessori School, founded in 2000 by Lorene Dekko Salsbery, also will serve as Trine’s primary partner for observation, practicum and student teaching opportunities for students. A variety of local Montessori education settings also may provide clinical opportunities.

Trine’s new Montessori teacher education program is made possible in part through a grant from the Dekko Foundation. The foundation, which seeks to foster economic freedom through education, will provide $385,000 toward startup costs, which include salary for a program director and redesigning a classroom on the Trine campus to mirror a best-practice Montessori environment for elementary-age learners.

“As Trine University prepares its students to succeed, lead and serve, and also looks for new ways to enhance the quality of life in Indiana, we are grateful for generous partners like the Dekko Foundation,” said Brooks.

“The educators who complete this program will be grounded in the principles of child development and how to provide high-quality learning environments for young people that will assist them in building knowledge, skills and character so that they can grow up to be self-sufficient and ultimately economically free,” said Tom Leedy, president of the Dekko Foundation.

The Dekko Foundation is hiring!

The Dekko Foundation has an opening on its staff for a program officer. The details of the position are explained below.

PROGRAM OFFICER

SUMMARY

The Dekko Foundation seeks a full-time Program Officer. The Program Officer is responsible for reviewing grant proposals and managing relationships with grantees. The ideal candidate has strong interpersonal and communication skills, demonstrated critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and a heart for working with nonprofit organizations. The Program Officer works with staff, grantseekers, committees, and grantees to ensure that the Dekko Foundation’s mission of fostering economic freedom through education is carried out through effective grantmaking.

EXPERIENCE

The ideal candidate will have a minimum of five years of experience working in the nonprofit sector or related field. Knowledge of professional philanthropy is a plus. See additional details listed below.

EDUCATION

The Dekko Foundation values education, through both formal institutions and life experiences. The ideal candidate will demonstrate an appropriate level of education for this position through a certification, degree, or real work experience related to the work of a Program Officer.

EXPECTATIONS FOR EMPLOYEES

Supports the Foundation’s mission, vision, and values by exhibiting the following behaviors: excellence, competence, collaboration, innovation, respect, commitment to our community, accountability, and ownership. 

POSITION DESCRIPTION

The Program Officer plays a key role at the Dekko Foundation. As a consistent representative of the Dekko Foundation, a Program Officer embodies the values and mission of the Foundation. This position requires out-of-state travel, and on occasion meetings outside of normal business hours. The Program Officer is responsible to the Vice President of Programs to carry out all of the responsibilities related to a responsive grant portfolio.

PRINCIPAL DUTIES AND AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY

Complete a portfolio of grant proposals that requires making site visits, managing relationships with grantees, developing grant outcomes and milestones, and monitoring grant progress and impact.

  • Review grant proposals. Draft and edit grant proposal summaries and recommendations for staff, committee, and board review.
  • Participate in, and sometimes lead, multi-disciplinary teams addressing current and emerging Foundation priorities.
  • Provide high-quality customer service to colleagues, grantseekers, and grantees by responding promptly and respectfully to a variety of inquiries.
  • Contribute to the ongoing process of developing systems to measure, learn from, and improve impact.
  • Be an active and supportive member of the program team.
  • Create, implement, and/or lead special projects as assigned.
  • Maintain collegial working relationships with colleagues and constituents.
  • Any other responsibilities as assigned.

CHARACTER

The Program Officer is best described as a servant leader. They are professional, personable, upbeat, approachable, flexible, respectful, motivated, and passionate about the mission of the Foundation.

SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

  • Ability to make sound decisions that align with organizational priorities.
  • Outstanding written and verbal communication skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to identify and solve problems individually and as a team.
  • Effective presentation skills.
  • Proven creativity.
  • Strong critical thinking skills.
  • Basic Microsoft Office knowledge.
  • Appreciation for self-directed learning.

CONTACT AND QUESTIONS

Contact Jenna Ott, Vice President of Programs, at 260-347-1278 or jott@dekkofoundation.org with any questions related to the Program Officer position.

Interested candidates should send a cover letter, professional resume, and two references to Jenna Ott at the email address above on or before Monday, December 9, 2019.

Dekko Foundation provides support for community learning center

The Dekko Foundation announces a funding plan has been established to help move forward the community learning center in Kendallville, a collaborative project to provide educational opportunities to residents of all ages.

The foundation, which promotes economic freedom through education, is among a group of local organizations that for the past several months have been working to turn the former East Noble Middle School building into a community center where young people and adults can improve their self-sufficiency and skills.

The center will feature an array of programming designed to meet community members’ needs and spark their own potential through education, skill development, entrepreneurism, artistic expression, wellness offerings, and more.

The future community learning center in Kendallville.

The center and its programs align with the Dekko Foundation board’s desire to invest in programs that build skills, knowledge, and character in young people from birth through 18 that put them on the path to achieving economic freedom as adults. The board believes economic freedom occurs when individuals create value through goods and services that benefit others, which creates economic value for themselves. Economic value leads to choices, and those choices lead to chances.

The more chances individuals enjoy, the more likely they are to fulfill life’s moral mandate of becoming materially self-sufficient. That, in turn, fosters self-esteem and self-worth in individuals, and facilitates their ability to create charitable choices for others.

“The vision for the community learning center fits well with the foundation’s mission,” said Thomas Leedy, president of the Dekko Foundation in Kendallville. “The programs it offers will help community members create value for themselves and others and provide opportunities for them to increase their self-sufficiency. We are excited by this project’s potential to not only build up people, but also build up a neighborhood, a city, and an entire county.”

The foundation’s board has authorized the establishment of an endowment fund at the Community Foundation of Noble County. The fund contains $1 million that will be used to offset a portion of the community learning center’s operating costs or to demolish the building if the project ultimately proves to be unsuccessful.

The board has approved an agreement with the City of Kendallville, which will own the former middle school until it can be transferred to a new nonprofit organization, The Community Learning Center, Inc. Through this agreement, the foundation will provide for the maintenance and upkeep of the building, and cover utility and insurance costs associated with the building until the community learning center becomes operational. No city funds will be used to support the community learning center.

Representatives from more than a dozen Noble County organizations have for the past several months been meeting regularly to devise programs for the community learning center, determine its governing structure, and create a financial model for the center’s sustainability. Programs at the center will fall within the areas of education and skill development, creativity and expression, and health and wellness.

The Dekko Foundation’s board supports the community learning center because of its potential to carry on the legacy of Mr. Chester E. Dekko, who started the foundation in 1981. Mr. Dekko was an entrepreneur and businessman, as well as a generous philanthropist who believed in helping the communities who helped his business become successful. He credited his success to his education and his lifelong love of learning.

The community learning center can help ignite that same lifelong love in others, inspiring them to increase their knowledge and skills and their ability to be self-sufficient and economically free.

“The foundation is pleased the community has embraced this project and its potential to help transform people’s lives,” Leedy said. “We will continue to collaborate with our community partners to create a center where individuals of all ages can come, learn, connect with their interests, and change themselves for the better. When that happens, everyone benefits.”

Our latest conversation starter: Golden

By Barry Rochford, strategic communication officer

It’s here!

Golden, our conversation starter that celebrates young people ages 13 and beyond, is here. This book encapsulates seven time-tested youth development principles that inform our grantmaking and apply to our mission of promoting economic freedom through education.

Golden has been a long time in coming. It’s based on our research and understanding of youth development — in this case the teen years, which is a period of remarkable transformation in a young person’s life. We titled it “Golden” because we believe the teen years are exactly that. Too often, teens are viewed negatively, but we don’t think that should be the case at all. We think teens are promising, brilliant, and VALUABLE. Teens have so much to give to the world.

The principles found in Golden aren’t necessarily new. They’re not groundbreaking or even all that unique. But they are paradigm-shifting in the sense that adults can’t direct a teen’s transformation. They can, however, help prepare caring, supportive environments for teens as they make the journey to adulthood.

The seven principles in Golden are:

  • Mutual respect underlies EVERYTHING.
  • Real really matters.
  • A little sweat builds a lot of equity.
  • Attention and commitment come from within.
  • Patience is faith in action.
  • You need to see it to be it.
  • There is more in us than we know.

For the past several days, we’ve been sharing these principles on our Facebook page. And, of course, there’s much more information in Golden about them. We encourage you to read it yourself and see if it meshes with your own thinking. If you’d like a copy, please email me at brochford@dekkofoundation.org, or you can message us on our Facebook page. You can also read an online version of Golden on our website here.

Golden is the fourth of our child development conversation starters that we’ve produced over the years, the others being our Owner’s Manual for newborns through age 5; Sturdy Stems for young people ages 6-12; and 7 Simple Ideas to Make Your Classroom Bloom! for educators and parents.

We call them “conversation starters” because they’re intended to do just that: begin a dialogue about the great things that happen when adults step back and consider what young people need to grow and develop. But they’re not written in stone. We believe the principles described in them are timeless, but our understanding of them is updated and changed as we learn more — especially as we work with grantseekers who are trying to do what’s best for young people each day.

I stated earlier that the teen years are a period of remarkable transformation. In fact, they’re a lot like a chrysalis — the last stage before a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Interestingly enough, the Greek origin of “chrysalis” means “gold.”

Like the caterpillar, teens experience a time of intense, inward-focused development that prepares them to one day step forward in the world with all of their beautiful colors on display.

We hope you enjoy reading Golden and find it valuable in your own work.

Challenges kids face are great, but so too is commitment to overcome them

By Barry Rochford, strategic communication officer

So many children face so many obstacles to growing up into confident, independent adults — maturing into women and men who demonstrate compassion to their neighbors, are capable of contributing to their communities, and find themselves engaged in a fulfilling vocation.

Indiana Youth Institute’s recent Kids Count Conference in Indianapolis, which brought together more than 1,000 professionals from across the state involved in various aspects of youth development, underscored the perils young people face every day.

It also was a welcome reminder there are many, many Hoosiers striving to make children’s lives brighter. Every day.

Make no mistake, the task is daunting. Problems such as drugs, poverty, and unhealthy behaviors remain perniciously embedded in our culture, but they bear newer, greater dangers for young people. Drugs, for example, are refined and made more addictive. Advances in imaging techniques allow us to take a picture of a young person’s brain and see how living in a high-stress, unstable environment inhibits its growth. Even as fewer Hoosier students are smoking cigarettes now, many more of them have turned to vaping.

This generation of young people is growing up in a world unknown to their parents and grandparents. Technology — notably in the form of phones and tablets — is being used as a pacifier. You’ve no doubt seen it: A parent hands a “screen” to a fussy toddler to quiet him. There’s no ill intent behind the decision, just a desire to comfort the child. But when that screen flicks on, part of the child’s brain flicks off. The device encourages the child to become disengaged and disassociated from the human interactions occurring around him, and it’s happening during the period of his life that’s most critical to his brain’s development.

Social media, which has brought people together across cultures and continents, can cause young people to feel alienated and isolated when it’s bent into a tool for bullying. Teachers and school counselors now find themselves helping students navigate the choppy waters of friendships made more fraught by Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and the like because the students lack relationship skills forged by face-to-face interactions with others.

The Kids Count Conference provides a forum for Indiana Youth Institute to preview its upcoming Kids Count Data Book that tracks the well-being of Hoosier youths in four areas: family and community, health, economic, and education. The upcoming 2019 Data Book contains a mixed bag of results, just as it has in previous years. Across all four areas, Indiana ranks 28th among states. Most concerning, the state ranks 48th for child maltreatment; 43rd in the number of youths in juvenile detention, and 43rd in infant mortality. Indiana, however, fares well in other benchmark categories, including fourth-grade reading proficiency (seventh among states), high housing burdens (10th), and high school graduation (13th).

Dr. Christopher Emdin, professor, author, and creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement, speaks at Indiana Youth Institute’s 2018 Kids Count Conference.

With all the challenges facing young people, it would be easy to throw our collective hands in the air because the work to overcome them is just too hard. And yet, as much as the Kids Count Conference is an acknowledgement of the issues that affect the healthy development of children, it is a celebration and affirmation of the many, many schools and organizations that engage, educate, and prepare our young people for the future.

It is that hoped-for future that drives those in youth development and compels them to do more. Chester E. Dekko, who created the Dekko Foundation in 1981, believed when young people have access to an education that helps them grow in skills, knowledge, and character, it prepares them to lead a life of independence and self-sufficiency. That’s why he gave the foundation its mission of fostering economic freedom through education. The principles underlying his mission have stood the test of time and are as applicable in 2018 as they were when he was growing up in Minnesota during the Great Depression.

The foundation, however, cannot do it alone. It is only through the work of partners that the mission of economic freedom through education can be realized. They are the ones working with young people. Every day. They are the ones doing the difficult and often unheralded job of building skills, knowledge, and character. Every day.

Yes, our young people will continue to face significant obstacles as they make the long journey to adulthood. But we should be encouraged there are so many caring adults and organizations throughout Indiana who understand those challenges, are passionate and committed, and stand ready to serve them.

Every day.

(Note: If you would like to read the 2019 Indiana Kids Count Data Book Snapshot, you can download it here.)