Close to home
Rural students embrace easy access to college

BY ROGER MOON roger@tmnews.com
February 15, 2012

FRENCH LICK — As promised, a month after the announcement about a new partnership returning higher education to Orange County, classes have begun at the Orange County Learning Center, Springs Valley Campus.

“Our school board and community have been very supportive of bringing this opportunity to not only our community (the Springs Valley School Corp. district), but certainly it’s a county-wide effort,” said Todd Pritchett, Springs Valley schools superintendent.

The January announcement focused on plans for Ivy Tech of Bloomington to begin offering the classes as a way of boosting education in the community.

Space is provided to Ivy Tech without charge by the Springs Valley School Corp. The building, at 479 S. Larry Bird Blvd., once housed the Wee Care child care program.

“We offer a couple of our vocational courses over there and also a pre-school program that we have,” Pritchett said.

A number of partners, including the Orange County Community Foundation, cooperated to bring the classes to Orange County.

The availability of higher learning options follows the closing of the Orange County Area Learning Center, which dissolved in December 2010.

“Our first class started on Feb. 6. We have four classes going right now,” said Jennie Vaughan, Ivy Tech Community College vice chancellor for student affairs. The campus now is serving 11 students, with some of those being enrolled in more than one class. Current classes are in reading, English composition and algebra, in addition to a seminar targeting students who are new to college.

“We are so excited,” Vaughan said. “We had an open house and we had over 40 people … who were interested in taking classes with us. We have hired a coordinator. Every day she has more and more people coming in to find out how to apply for classes.”

Carol Hudelson serves as the coordinator. “We have had a lot of people who have called and come in and talked to us about what we offer,” Hudelson said. “It’s mostly the adult learner,” Hudelson said, explaining that few, to date, have been in high school or are recent graduates.

“We’ve had a lot of people coming in saying, ‘I started at Ivy Tech a few years ago. I dropped out. It was such a long commute,’” Hudelson said. Now those students can build on the earlier experience without the inconvenience of commuting.

Vaughan said, “We’re starting another group of classes on March 5. Those will be 8-week courses, full academic classes. We’re recruiting for that right now.”

The plan to enhance educational opportunities for the community’s residents is one that will benefit students across the spectrum. Students as young as high school age can have access to new opportunities, and even seasoned professionals, through Ivy Tech’s corporate college short-term training, can add or sharpen skills that will make them better employees.

Classes related to such areas as customer service and hospitality will be among the offerings.

“The location down here is beneficial with the resort being one of the bigger employers in the county,” Pritchett said.

Martin County

Higher education opportunities are available in Martin County through the Martin County Community Learning Center/Ivy Tech Community College.

The most recent announcement about classes available there reports on an introductory computer class, which is scheduled to begin March 27 and run four Tuesdays from 6-9 p.m. Information is available by calling Ivy Tech’s Center for Lifelong Learning at (812) 330-4400.

Adult Basic Education classes also are offered in Martin County. More information is available by calling Vincennes University at (812) 888-5749. The number at the Learning Center is (812) 295-2674.

Times-Mail Staff Writer Roger Moon welcomes comments at 277-7252 and roger@tmnews.com.

FRENCH LICK — Darian Powell, left, and Natasha Cox visit the Orange County Learning Center’s website Monday afternoon during their first day of one of Ivy Tech Community College’s newest courses now offered in The Valley. The Orange County Community Foundation partnered with Ivy Tech and other groups to reintroduce higher education in the county after the closing of the Orange County Area Learning Center in December 2010. (Times-Mail photos / RICH JANZARUK)

FRENCH LICK — Nancy Pace teaches Ivy Tech’s Introduction to College course at Orange County Learning Center, Springs Valley Campus Monday. Ivy Tech announced its new endeavor to bring higher education to Orange County one month ago, and the site’s first classes began Feb. 6.

Copyright: TMNews.com 2012

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.