Cole Professional Academy
History of the Cole Professional Academy
A Seed Is Planted
Several years ago several principals boarded a bus with Lafayette area business leaders to make a the two hour pilgrimage to Fort Wayne. The destination was the Junior Achievement BizTown. This group was interested in looking at pursuing this opportunity at the local level and wanted a first-hand look at the facilities and offerings. On the journey to Fort Wayne, Doug Mansfield, the President of Kirby Risk was sharing ideas which centered around education, the impact of education reforms, and the challenges facing local businesses. Doug Mansfield planted the seed which would later become the backbone of the Cole Professional Academy. He stated that if a person would:
- Show up every day.
- Show up on time.
- Be willing to work hard and work with others.
- Be willing to learn and grow.
- Pass a drug screen.
Not only would the person have a job in this community, he/she would have opportunities to quickly rise through the ranks of any local company.
Putting a Name to the Concept
Move ahead several years and a local group of educators from each of the public school corporations, Purdue University, and several businesses came together tasked with creating a local accountability model that could be offered as a possible replacement to the current A-F system used in the State of Indiana. Within discussions of what schools, parents, community, and businesses desire most for our graduates, the concept of soft skills kept coming up. Soft skills include those pieces like showing up every day, having good manners, working hard, and completing a task as it is presented. As the group continued to discuss these soft skills, it settled on the concept of professionalism. A dashboard was created that was more inclusive than standardized tests. Its categories are:
- Social and Professional Behavior
- Leadership and Civic Skills
- College and Career Readiness
- Academic Achievement
Quantifying the Qualitative
Once the work was completed the question on the table to address, “How would James Cole Elementary School measure professionalism? A list of professional examples was created and the idea of some sort of academy that would intentionally teach these skills during school was considered. Mr. Pinto then spoke with three classroom teachers and explained the concept of professionalism and offered a few ideas and said, “What do you think?” The teachers enthusiastically responded that this idea was needed and they would love to make the concept a reality. Meanwhile, the idea was shared with several parents in the Cole community for their input and ideas. The list of professional attributes and traits continued to grow. Finally, the idea was shared with the Cole PTO who quickly offered support.
Standardized tests do not measure these professional skills. From the parent, business leader, and community feedback, they greatly matter and in many cases more than a data point.
At James Cole Elementary School, the staff is encouraged to ask themselves the question, “Why Not?” when they have an idea. They are then encouraged to pursue this idea without fear of repercussion and to try, fail, and try again. This became a Why Not? Moment. Could the staff collectively work together to create an academy and find funding to make the dream a reality? In the spirit of Why Not? they jumped in.
The Basic Framework of the Professional Academy
A committee was formed to brainstorm and create the Cole Professional Academy from the ground up. The basic framework that was created included:
- Fifth Grade would be the focus for the Cole Professional Academy. Conversations would be ongoing to create ways the younger grades could support the efforts.
- Every Child Participates: Each fifth grader would participate in monthly Academy afternoons. These afternoons would provide each child with information from guest speakers and the ability to collaborate and share new information.
- White Collared Shirts: We wanted each child to be offered a professional shirt to wear on Academy Afternoons. White collared shirts were provided free of charge to all fifth grade students. Shirts were created by a fifth grade parent and funded by a local grant from Caterpillar. We want students to look professional during these afternoons with emphasis on encouraging each child to dress professionally with slacks, nice shoes, and the white collared shirts.
- IDs on Lanyards: Most professionals wear a lanyard as an ID badge. With the help of Lifetouch, we were able to create lanyards with each child’s picture and a spot on the back to show badges earned.
- Badges and Assignments: While every student participates in Academy Afternoons, there will be monthly assignments and a chance to earn ‘badges’ each month. Completing the badge requirements and the Test of Basic Skills would be the measurement we use to determine whether the fifth grade student earns the distinction as a Cole Professional.
- Cole Professional Academy Booklet: The committee worked diligently to create a Cole Professional Academy Booklet for each child. This booklet held the daily agenda for Academy Afternoons, areas to take notes, and the assignments needed to earn the badges.
- Professionally Run Meetings: To impress upon the students what a professional meeting looks and feels like, meetings would be run with an agenda of the afternoon, protocols for the meeting, and reminders. The reminders included: We will... Begin and end on time. Be device-light.
Be professionally dressed. Be prepared to learn.
Be accepting and open to others and their views. Take care of our needs.
Be collaborative and supportive of each other.
- Required Test of Basic Skills: Twenty basic skills were identified to be completed by April for the child to earn the distinction as Cole Professional. These requirements were chunked by school mentors to work through as the students progressed toward completion by school year’s end.
- Mentors: In life, most successful people can point to one or two people who have served as mentors to them to get them over a hurdle or to help them through a challenging spot. Each child was asked to identify a non-family member mentor that he/she could turn to for assistance. The idea here is to create the concept of a mentor for the future. Each fifth grader was also assigned to a Cole staff member whose task it was to meet with the student during Mentor Afternoons when students had time to work through their assignments and badges and receive support if needed. Our goal was that any child who wanted to achieve the status as Cole Professional would not have an outside hurdle as the cause. However, the mentors were going to remind and encourage during meetings, but not hound the students toward completion. Earning Cole Professional status should be an attainable goal, but one that would require effort and follow-through from the students to attain.
Cole Professionalism Academy
11. Write a sample thank-you note for a gift.
Support Pours In From the Community
The Cole Professional Academy would not be possible without the support from many in the community.
- Jennifer Jeffries and the Dean of the Purdue College of Education, Maryann Santos, offered their support and guidance very early into the process. They provided suggestions and helped bridge the gap needed to find and secure speakers for several Academy Afternoons. Dean Santos provided one of the keynote addresses at the Professional Academy Celebration as well.
- Steve Shelby and Stewart Bauserman from Purdue Polytechnic at Subaru of Lafayette have served as collaborators toward this program. They have offered suggestions and also support for our staff by hosting a professional development day along with a tour and arranging field trips that our students could attend to understand how some of this work translates to adult processes. Purdue Polytechnic has also offered monetary support for this program.
Greater Lafayette Chamber:
- Gary Henriott from the Greater Lafayette Chamber brainstormed with the school to come up with ideas and offer suggestions. Through his words the meeting agenda and protocols were offered for each Academy Afternoon. Mr. Henriott also extended an invitation to share the concept of the Professional Academy at the Regional Workforce Summit.
- Bailey Medley shared the protocols and meeting practices used at Caterpillar with the Cole Professional Academy committee. From these conversations, the reminders and the protocol: Be Present; Be Polite; Be Precise was created for use at all Academy Afternoons.
- Jeff Rosebraugh committed early in the process to share his professional story with Cole Professionals as one of the keynote speakers at the Professional Academy Celebration.
- Melanie Dorsey assisted in the attainment of a monetary donation which assisted in the purchase of the white collared shirts for each student.
- Kelly Rice from Treefrog Publishing was instrumental in the creation of our Cole Professional Academy logo. It was important to brand this concept and make it appeal to the existing feel of Cole, but have a more mature and fresh outlook than our typical Cole Cub brand. Kelly also worked with the school to create a logo which incorporates our meeting protocols.
- The Cole Professional Academy has benefited from grants-in-aid from the Public Schools Foundation of Tippecanoe County, Lafayette Kiwanis, the Cole PTO, and several parent monetary and in-kind donations.
The Year in Review:
What is a Professional? ……………………….. Mr. John Smith, President of Package Right Corporation
Dressing Professionally ………………………. Mr. Steve Tobias; Director of Building and Grounds
Tippecanoe School Corporation
Dressing for a Success ………………………… Dr. Christopher Huffer; Cole Parent
Diane Boener, Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio, Lafayette
What is a Mentor? …………………………….. Michael Pinto, Principal; James Cole Elementary School
Table Manners ……………………………….... Janice Garrett; Retired Teacher; Tippecanoe School Corporation
Be a Lady ……………………………………… Janice Garrett
Be a Gentleman ………………………………. Dr. Scott Hanback; Superintendent
Tippecanoe School Corporation
Cell Phone/Email Etiquette …………………… Dr. BeAnn Younker; Director of Student Services
Tippecanoe School Corporation
Funeral Etiquette ………………………………. Michael Gabauer; Principal, Wea Ridge Elementary School
Museum/Concert, Movie Etiquette ……………. Ruth Ewigleben; Music Teacher; Cole & Wea Ridge Elementary
Interview Etiquette …………………………….. Dr. Susan DeLong; Assistant Superintendent of Personnel
Tippecanoe School Corporation
Thank-You Notes ………………………………. Heather Burton; Counselor, James Cole Elementary School
Drugs and their Effects ………………………… Brandon Withers; Lafayette Police Department; Cole Parent
Internet Usage …………………………………. Ashley Greeley; Teacher; Tippecanoe School Corporation
911 Emergency ………………………………… Rob Rush; Tippecanoe County Sheriff Department and
Tippecanoe School Corporation SRO
Common Sense Conversations
(Speaking to Law Enforcement & Military) ….. Adam Mellady; Lafayette Police Department; Cole Parent
Service to Others
Pass It Forward ………………………………… Michael Pinto; Principal, James Cole Elementary School
Social Media Comments ………………………. Danielle Yu; Cole Elementary Speech Language Pathologist
Volunteerism …………………………………… Amy O’Shea; Director of Community Impact; United Way of Greater Lafayette
Amy Wood; Director of Volunteer Engagement; United Way of Greater Lafayette
Job Applications ………………………………. Julie Slunaker; Human Resources Executive Secretary; TSC
Tonia Withers; Human Resources Executive Secretary; TSC
Sportsmanship ………………………………… Joshua Ebikwo; Purdue University Track Team
Plagiarism ……………………………………… Jennifer Jeffries; Senior Director of Strategic Communications
and Programming; Purdue College of Education
Success at Home
Planning for your financial future …………….. Brad Grabowski; Edward Jones Investment
Helping at Home (Grocery List, Meal Prep) ….. Lori Shofroth Cords; Director of Nutrition Services; TSC
Establishing a Morning and Evening Routine … Mke Foster; Store Auditor; Fresh Thyme Foods
Restaurant Behavior, Ordering, Tipping ………. Scott Eaker; Arni’s Pizzas
How to Raise an Adult
Many of the facets of the Cole Professional Academy that were adopted were reinforced from the book How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims. The Cole Staff read this book as a book study and discussed many of the aspects within both in terms of our approach to the Cole Professional Academy and in terms of our daily interaction with children and with parents. This book challenged us to rethink many of our approaches and also encouraged us to give our students opportunities to try, fail, and try again.
Cole Professional Academy Committee
The Cole Professional Academy has been a grassroots effort comprised of James Cole Elementary Staff members. It is through ideas, collaboration, and a “Why Not?” attitude and approach that this concept has taken shape. The members of the Cole Professional Academy Committee that are responsible for creating this concept and making it a reality include:
Heather Burton, Counselor
Kelly Kesterson, Cole Secretary
Kelly Curtis, Grade 1 Teacher
Natalie Oakley, Grade 5 Teacher
Ellen DeFreese, Grade 3 Teacher
Michael Pinto, Principal
Ruth Ewigleben, Music Teacher
Eric Russell, Grade 5 Teacher
Ginger Erickson, Grade 3 Teacher
Julie Storms, Grade 1 Teacher
Jessica Ferger, Grade 4 Teacher
The success of the Cole Professional Academy would not have been as great had it not been for the Cole Staff who served as mentors to the fifth grade students. Each month, classrooms in grades K-4 would be released for activities supervised by the principal and other staff members for fifteen minutes while the fifth grade met with their mentors. During this time, the mentors checked progress on monthly assignments and also worked through the different items within the end-of-year assignment. Thanks to Mrs. Storms and Mrs. Curtis who created the Cole Professional Academy Handbook and also created a handbook for each mentor to guide him/her through the process with each student. The goal with the mentor aspect was to educate the students on the power and positive influence someone else - someone you call a mentor - can have on your life. It also was a safety net because we didn’t want any student to not earn the distinction as Cole Professional due to home circumstances that would prevent a task from being completed. If this setback occurred, and if the child was willing to put in the time, the mentor would complete the task with the child either at school or outside school hours. The list of Cole Staff members who served as mentors includes:
Tiffani Earley; Kindergarten Teacher
Brittany Bredar, Fourth Grade Teacher
Ashley Lord, Kindergarten Teacher
Jessica Ferger, Fourth Grade Teacher
Ginnie Sheets, Kindergarten Teacher
Natalie Oakley, Fifth Grade Teacher
Kelly Curtis, First Grade Teacher
Eric Russell, Fifth Grade Teacher
Julie Storms, First Grade Teacher
Heather Burton, Counselor
Dedra Downham, Second Grade Teacher
Kelly Kesterson, Secretary
Tracey Harris, Second Grade Teacher
Ruth Ewigleben, Music Teacher
Ellen DeFreese, Third Grade Teacher
Patrick Schultheiss, Physical Education Teacher
Ginger Erickson, Third Grade Teacher
Liz Rosebraugh, Technology Aide
Angela Marks, Third Grade Teacher
Cole Professional Academy Through Eyes of the Students
Memory or Impact
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was learning all the new things like how dress myself, how to be nice, and how to fill out a job application. The one I will remember most will most likely would be when you go to a job interview you don’t want to say anything too, too personal because it shows you might be a gossip.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the fake 911 call they had us do. I also liked having a bunch of different people talk to us, not just the same person. One of my favorite was Joshua Ebikwo. He just had a lot of things in common with me and works hard. The thing I remember most was having to do the assignments. My favorite assignment was dressing up and going out to eat.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was dressing up nicely each month. The one thing I remember most was when I donated some toys to someone else.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was having the meetings and learning. The things I remember most like when you are finished eating, put your silverware in an X. Also, if someone asks for the salt, pass the salt and pepper. I also learned not to put too much makeup on or wear super high heels in an interview.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the speakers. My favorite speaker was Mr. Smith because he talked about jobs since he owns a factory. He taught me to be professional for a meeting. I like the protocols: Be Present, Be Polite, and Be Precise. The thing I remember most was ‘don’t do drugs because they can hurt your body and you won’t get a job.’
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the police officers came. I liked to learn how hard it was to dial a phone when you are panicking. The thing I remember the most was how to dress professionally. I can now tie a tie.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was learning how to be a professional. I learned how to wear appropriate clothes, how to call 911, and I learned how to act in a meeting. The one thing I remember most about the Professional Academy is “People are like an Oreo. The best part is on the inside.”
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was when we had speakers because it was intriguing. I also liked the homework. I also liked that we got uniforms. The one thing I remember most about the Professional Academy is to always push yourself. I learned that from Joshua Ebikwo
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was that we sat down and it felt like it was a meeting. It felt like I had a job and was important. The one I will remember most was how to tie a tie.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was when we got to try tie ties. I can now tie a tie. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is how to tie a tie. I really enjoyed the Purdue Track Athlete. He taught me sportsmanship.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the assessment where we had to bake. I baked a cake. It also taught me how to do things that I didn’t know how to do before life fill up the gas and tie a tie. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is to dress professionally for funerals and weddings.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was learning how to cook things like we had to bake a cake and fry an egg. I had never done that before.
The one I will remember most if someone asks to pass the salt, pass the salt and pepper.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the Pass it Forward piece. I like that we can give back to people. I really enjoyed listening to the track athlete talk about sportsmanship. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is to not do drugs because it’s bad for you and you will not get a job.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was learning about table manners. I learned that if you pass the salt, you pass the pepper. You only butter one part of the bread, not the whole bread. The one I will remember most always have manners during an interview.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was baking a cake because I think it’s a good skill to have and it’s delicious afterward. I also learned how to tie a tie. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is the table manners presentation where there are different ways to show you are done. I also learned it’s okay to say at a funeral, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was frying an egg. That is something I have learned that is fun and I had never done it before. I also enjoyed the Purdue athlete speaking about sportsmanship. You can have sportsmanship without sports - like on a job as well. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is to dress appropriately for the job you want and have manners when eating and shining your shoes - it only takes a minute and it’s worth it. We also learned that “Clip on ties are for five-year olds”.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was getting to learn things I never did before like different types of jobs were. It was fun hanging out with mentors. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is that it takes lots of practice to be a professional.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional was the money presentation because we got to write a job application. The one I will remember most was how to complete a job application.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was when we did the table manners. I learned to keep my elbows off the table. I liked when we went with Mrs. Boener and learned about how to dress appropriately. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is the table manners and how to set the table.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was being with my mentors. My mentor was Mrs. Lord. One thing that I learned that I really remember is to always keep your phone and purse on the floor or beside you, not on the table at a restaurant. I also learned that girls shouldn’t show too much skin and don’t wear vampire nails or too high heels.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was table manners. We learned that it is important anywhere that you are too be polite and not messy.
The one I will remember most was how to tie a tie.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the table manners. I like that they taught me not to put my elbows on the table. The one I will remember most if you are talking to a veteran, don’t ask, “Have you ever shot someone or seen someone die? Ask about sports or coffee.”
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was when we did things like when we were shown things like how to set a table. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is when I was able to get all of my Professional Academy requirements finished because it was a proud moment and I could say, “I did it.” It takes a lot to be a professional.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was dressing up professionally and hearing the speakers talk. The one I will remember most was that you shouldn’t put elbows on the table and always pass salt and pepper together.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was baking a cake because I had never done that before. The one I will remember most during a concert you should have your phone paused, you shouldn’t talk during it, and you shouldn’t wiggle in your seat.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was when the assessments were required. I liked to make a cake. I had never done that before. I really enjoyed the track athlete from Purdue because he taught us his life story and how Purdue taught him how to get better at sports and not fake being sick - to show up every day. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is the mentors. Mrs. Sheets was my mentor. She told me how I had to do the requirements and helped me get things done. It was a proud moment when I got it all done.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the guests we had. I really remember when Diane Boener came and spoke with us. She taught me how to dress professionally for an interview and when I go nice places. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is learning how to be professional like dressing nicely, acting professionally at an interview, and respecting coworkers at a job.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was that I completed all the requirements. The hardest requirement for me was table manners because I hadn’t had a chance to practice much some of the things I learned. I learned to pass the salt and pepper as one. You are supposed to pull out the chair for a lady. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is dealing with money. Investing and saving and not spending your money on something that you want now, but not maybe later.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the little skits that we sometimes did, like when Mrs. Ewigleben acted out at a concert. I also liked calling 911 after running around. The one I will remember most when you are in the parking lot to get out of the car or into the car after, people still may be watching you so be careful all the time.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was when we had to make the cake, grilled cheese sandwich, and fry an egg. It was my first cake. The one I will remember most will be how to tie a tie and put gas in a car.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was baking a cake. Baking is a very big part of life. I also liked that we had to show what we did, not just take our word for it. We had to get evidence to earn the badge. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is how to dress for success like don’t wear too short skirts (above your knees), don’t wear too high heels, and don’t put on too much makeup.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was when we learned about Internet Safety. I like the Internet and technology and what I learned was that you don’t give out any personal information and that everything that you put down is saved forever. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is probably when we learned about table manners and that there are certain ways to put your silverware and napkins when you are leaving.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was doing the 20 pieces of the assessment. I learned that “People are like Oreos. The good stuff is on the inside.”
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was probably having different people come and talk with us. I really enjoyed learning about dressing professionally. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is I wouldn’t ever have at this age filled the car with gas. Now I know how.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional was Officer Rush visiting because it was an active presentation. We had to call 911 and run around the room. The one I will remember most was that you had to pass the salt and pepper together.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the baking. I baked my first cake and made a grilled cheese. It was fun. The one I will remember most will be how to pump gas. I also learned how to fill out a job application.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was seeing our mom and other friends speak. She did a good job. The one I will remember most was learning how to fill out a job application because that will come in handy.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional was Officer Rush and his talk about 911 calls. It was fun. The one I will remember most Dr. Huffer dressing up in his overall and pretending to be a doctor and then the picture of him with his lab coat on. That showed me to dress appropriately for your job.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was probably all the different people coming to talk with us like person who came and talked to us about money. I learned to start saving now. The one thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy is all the manners like when you pass the salt, you pass the pepper.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the table manners. I got to go to Applebees and everyone complimented my outfit because I had dressed up. The one I will remember most not to use my phone to record during a concert or take pictures because it might be a distraction.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was to try new things on my own that I would not do otherwise like learning to tie a tie and the 911 call test. The thing I will remember most about the Cole Professional Academy was that during an interview they are watching you all the way to the car. Be ready from the moment you get out of the car.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was the skit that Mrs. Ewigleben did. It was funny because of the way she shines her flashlight around and did everything she isn’t supposed to do at a concert. The one I will remember most was how to tie a tie.
My favorite part of the Cole Professional Academy was calling 911 on the phone. The one I will remember most drugs can get into candies and bad things can go onto the Internet and we can get in trouble for posting inappropriate things and they can’t be deleted.