iGrad program launches in Jennings County

Ivy Tech Community College has launched the iGrad high school student success program at Jennings County High School with two Jennings County natives and graduates of the school leading the program.

Ivy Tech officials say that LeAna Matern is serving as the Jennings County High School iGrad Team Leader, and Shelly Perry is the school’s iGrad College and Career Coach. The iGrad program recognizes and removes barriers for 9th-12th grade students to increase academic success through coaching, mentoring and tutoring. The Jennings County iGrad program is specifically focused on preparing students to enter science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career fields that employers say are vital to regional economic development.

“Our team leaders and coaches in the iGrad program are integral in helping students shape their futures and find success in their education and careers,” iGrad Program Director Laurie Dickerson said. “LeAna and Shelly are very familiar with the Jennings County community, economy and educational system and are well suited to lead the iGrad program at Jennings County High School. Together with our volunteer mentors and tutors, they will provide Jennings County students with focus and determination to advance themselves, complete high school and reach their academic and career goals.”

The iGrad program started as an initiative five years ago through a partnership of the Bartholomew County School Corp., Flatrock-Hawcreek School Corp., the Community Education Coalition, and Ivy Tech Community College and is supported by Cummins Inc. and the Heritage Fund – the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County with the goal of increasing high school graduation rates.

Ivy Tech says it received a $74,724 Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education grant in the summer of 2016 to expand the program to Jennings County High School with a particular focus on guiding students toward STEM-related careers. The college says it offers 31 dual-credit courses at Jennings County High School, including 12 STEM-related courses.

“The new iGrad Program at Jennings County High School is open to all students and is already reaching many of those who may otherwise slip through the cracks,” said Dr. Terry Sargent, Superintendent of Jennings County School Corporation. He adds, “More of our students will graduate from high school and more of them will go on to pursue additional education because of this wonderful program.”