HCLA Class of 2024 spent our December class at the Westfield Washington School Corporation Administrative Office diving deep into the inner workings of the six school districts in Hamilton County and everything happening behind the scenes to continuously improve education in the county.  Dean Patrick Propst kicked off Education Day with a bit of reflection asking, “Who was a person or people that were impactful in your K-12 educational journey and why?” There were many wonderful answers from my colleagues. I would be remiss if I didn’t shout out Hank Jarvis, retired Project Lead the Way and industrial technology teacher at Hobart High School. Mr. Jarvis introduced me to architectural design and CAD/BIM, which has served as my educational foundation for a career in real estate development. This question was a great way to frame the day’s discussion—everyone is impacted by education.

Westfield Washington Assistant Superintendent, Brian Tomamichel, continued our morning with a presentation on the business of education. I feel it’s easy to forget that oftentimes our public school corporations are among the largest employers in our communities and have finite, often predetermined resources, available to carry out their missions. Tomamichel outlined the nuances of state school funding and explained the often 9–18-month lag between a new construction home being built and the school corporation receiving full funding for that home. I left this portion of the day thinking, “This is the sort of information that people need to know and often have not had the exposure.”

The second session, led by School Resource Officer Jason Shonkwiler (Noblesville), Director of Mental Health Brooke Lawson (Carmel Clay), and Equity & Inclusion Officer Terri Roberts-Leonard (Carmel Clay) gave a behind the curtain look at the efforts taken by the school corporations to provide quality education to all students. Each person gave a small presentation followed by roundtable discussions and my key takeaway from this session was that there are countless individuals working tirelessly who love the students they get to work with and want the absolute best for them.  

The third and fourth sessions both represent the sort of unfettered access that only Hamilton County Leadership Academy can provide. Back-to-back panelist sessions featured all six school corporation superintendents and the executive directors of four of the county’s education foundations. It was fascinating to watch how well the superintendents seemed to know one another and how much collaboration occurs between them. I was thrilled to hear the forward-thinking optimism shared among the superintendents due to efforts such as partnerships with local businesses to expose students to career possibilities. My understanding of education foundations improved considerably. My prior understanding was that education foundations gave scholarships to deserving students every so often. It turns out the eduction foundations in Hamilton County are providing a great deal of wraparound services and meeting people exactly where they are to increase the likelihood of positive educational outcomes. This was a great session and I’m looking forward to our sessions in 2024!