Several longtime educators to work with Horizon Education Alliance

Horizon Executive Director Brian Wiebe and County Commissioner Mike Yoder spoke to the Goshen School Board Monday about the Horizon Education Alliance.

Posted on Aug. 29, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

GOSHEN — Several local longtime educators are on board to take on leadership roles with the Horizon Education Alliance, a county-wide movement to enhance local education.

Horizon’s executive director, Brian Wiebe, and Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder spoke to the Goshen School Board Monday evening about Horizon’s work through its first several months and what’s to come.

Wiebe listed several future staff members, many who have long backgrounds in local education.

Aliah Carolan-Silva, who has worked as a research fellow at Goshen College’s Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning, will lead the research and assessment piece of the initiative. She and Wiebe officially begin their positions with Horizon Oct. 1.

Several others will join Horizon’s staff as funding is available, Wiebe said.

Bruce Stahly, who retired as Goshen’s superintendent this summer, will lead Horizon’s preschool development, Wiebe said. Don Jantzi, who retired as principal at Chamberlain Elementary this summer, will become coordinator of parent engagement. Mark Mow, who retired as Elkhart Community Schools’ superintendent this summer, and his wife, Kathryn Mow, will lead initiatives in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. Jim Kirkton, who resigned as Goshen High School’s principal this summer, will become coordinator of secondary and post-secondary success.

Jim Siegmann of the Elkhart County Community Foundation will be an ambassador to non-profit organizations. Wiebe said the Alliance is still looking for a director of coaching who would organize field trips, reading coaches for the younger grades and coaches for other subjects in later grades.

Horizon’s staff will work out of formal offices. Horizon’s board is considering what space is best at this point, Wiebe said.

The Horizon Education Alliance formed last January when the Elkhart County Commissioners approved an agreement to create an alliance between local school and community leaders in order to carry out the Horizon 2.0 committee’s recommendations. Those proposals, also presented in January, focused on expanding early childhood education and building a college and career-ready culture in Elkhart County through a set of more specific proposals.

The Horizon board had been working to create a strategic plan through the summer, which it approved in July. That plan includes several longterm goals, including having every child kindergarten-ready by age 5 in 10 years and for every child to have a parent or caregiver involved in the child’s learning within 20 years.

Those are large, long-term goals, Wiebe said, but the Alliance is finishing up its operational plan, which will include more details on how to achieve those goals, including accountability measures.

Goshen Superintendent Diane Woodworth noted at the school board meeting that Goshen Community Schools is discussing contributing funds to the Alliance. Wiebe said that funding for Horizon’s efforts will come from a variety of funding sources, including local businesses and foundations.

Yoder explained to the board how they have not found any other initiative moving forward like the local group.

“Every step we go forward is new territory and that’s exciting for us as an alliance, and I hope is exciting for you as a school board as we consider these next steps,” Yoder said.

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