STATE OF THE CITY 2000 (Education): Learning available for residents of all ages

Adventures in learning continue to be available for residents of Hillsboro, from toddlers to adults. With these adventures come several new programs and new faces.

Toddlers & preschoolers

On Aug. 2, 1999, Susan Judd began a new adventure when she opened Lucky Ducks Preschool.

She located the preschool at 502 E. First, in the building formerly occupied by Kinder Kastle, which was offered for sale in May by co-owners Ruthann Dies and Angel Lofton because of Dies? chronic illness.

Lucky Ducks offers preschool classes each morning for children ages 3 to kindergarten. Full-time day care and before- and after-school care are also available.

?We have received a lot of support from the community,? Judd said. ?Anything we?ve asked, the community has provided for us.?

She included visits from the fire department, police department, and a special story time at the library.

For 10 years prior to moving to Hillsboro, Judd served as a teacher of gifted and talented students in an elementary school in Olathe. She enjoys being able to use many of the same methods with the children at Lucky Ducks.

?We use a process-based, discovery-oriented approach,? Judd said. This is done through heavy concentration on math, science and technology. Other areas, such as communication, physical development, confidence, and creative and logical thinking, are also addressed.

Although much of her energy is spent on the preschool program, before- and after-school students also receive an educationally based program.

?The kids aren?t just sitting around,? Judd says. ?They?re engaged in projects.?

Books which students have written will soon be on display in the public library.

Judd is looking forward to a new adventure this summer when Camp Lucky Ducks, a summer day-care program, begins. It is designed for students ages 3 through 16.

?This will be full-time day care with a little different slant,? she said. It will be an educationally based program, where units such as rocks and geology will be explored.

Judd believes Camp Lucky Ducks will be entertaining and interesting.

?Because of the interest and natural motivation of kids, we are able to extend their learning educationally,? Judd said.

Currently, Lucky Ducks has openings for full-time day care and before- and after-school care. At this time, the preschool program is full.

USD 410

USD 410 began working on a new program in 1999 known as ?Communities in Schools.? According to Gordon Mohn, superintendent, the program is a collaborative project that tries to encourage community involvement in the educational process.

The program is still in the planning process, with meetings for area superintendents scheduled early this spring.

In August, Hillsboro Middle School began a pilot project with a new math curriculum.

?It?s been real positive,? Mohn said. ?but it?s a lot of hard work.?

Mohn said the new program presents a different way of thinking about math, called constructive application. In this approach, students make practical applications of what they have learned in math, and discover ways they can use it in everyday life.

The feedback has been positive to this point, Mohn said.

In the area of science, Mohn said there has been little impact from the State Board of Education?s decision to leave evolution out of science standards for Kansas students.

?It hasn?t been a big event here,? he said.

Any decision on changes in curriculum will not take place until after the pilot program in math has been completed, about 18 months.

The school district has also been busy reworking its Crisis Management Plan. The plan deals with issues such as security as well as how to react in various situations, such as the death of a student or teacher, a bomb scare, or a natural disaster.

The new policy on locking doors in each building is a result of this plan.

?We plan to continue that,? says Mohn. ?We continue to receive positive comments.?

USD 410 also welcomed two new staff members in 1999.

Tabor College

Last May, Tabor College inaugurated its 12th president, when Larry Nikkel assumed the position.

According to Judy Hiebert, vice-president of student development, ?Larry?s integrity and the respect he has in the constituency and employees is enormous. He is committed to Tabor College, and has a vision for this place. It?s pretty contagious.?

Hiebert says it?s not uncommon to see Nickel talking with the students in the cafeteria.

?He just moves from table to table,? she said. ?It?s special to the students.?

Of his first year in office, Nikkel said, ?It?s been very exciting. We?ve exceeded many of our goals.?

In his first year, he had hoped to implement a strategic plan. He says Tabor has moved forward in every aspect of the plan.

Launching several new programs is a major accomplishment, according to Nickel. Master?s programs in education and accounting, as well as a degree completion program in nursing, firsts for Tabor, were launched in 1999.

Another first for Tabor, Nikkel said, was exceeding the annual fund drive at the level reached. ?We set our goal at $925,000. We surpassed that.?

Several other highlights include a 29 percent increase in incoming freshmen for the fall semester, and meeting several challenge grants.

The Learning Center

The Marion County Learning Center continued to provide new options for the future during 1999.

According to Dwayne Abrahams, supervisor, ?The learning center is continuing with its diploma program to enable students in Marion County to achieve their graduation goals in cooperation with the public schools.?

During September, students learned about some of Marion County?s historical and cultural developments through a number of field trips, including visits to the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Goessel and the Adobe House Museum in Hillsboro.

During 1999, the center added programs in English as a Second Language (ESL) and Spanish.

The Learning Center?s computer-based training continues to be used by the community as well.

Said Abrahams: ?It is a popular, user-friendly group of courses that is beneficial for new computer users as well as for those who want more advanced training.?

Learning in Retirement Program

For those over the age of 60, the Tabor College Learning in Retirement Program offered a lot in 1999 and into 2000.

Connie Isaac, program coordinator, said, ?We try to provide an educational opportunity for those in the community over the age of 60.?

To provide this opportunity, Isaac invites a variety of guests and speakers to share their expertise and experiences.

Recently, Clarke Sanders of radio station KSAL in Salina visited the group. In February, Hillsboro resident Marilyn Schmidt will share her experiences with a grandchild with Turret?s Syndrome.

Later this spring, participants will also hear Lon Fendall, Tabor College academic dean, and several students tell of their recent trip to Africa, including a visit to a Sudanese refugee camp.

?We do try to have an educational emphasis,? Isaac said, ?but there?s a large social component as well. Participants can stay and have lunch in the cafeteria at a discounted price, too.?

The program meets on Thursday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the lobby of the Wohlgemuth Music Education Center on the Tabor College campus.

More from article archives
Couple exploring new dining, entertainment option
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF Purchasing the former dairy-plant property was the biggest...
Read More