Heartland student, Community Foundation to receive honors

Mark Hobbs (left), Heartland Career Center Director, and Leroy Striker, Heartland's criminal justice instructor, chat with Madison France, who will receive an award from the Indiana Department of Education later this month. Photo by Joseph Slacian. 

By Joseph Slacian

A Heartland Career Center student and a local organization will both be honored later this month at the Indiana Department of Education’s Awards for Excellence Recognition Program.

The student, Madison France, and the organization, the Community Foundation of Wabash County, were nominated for the awards by Heartland director Mark Hobbs. They will be honored along with other recipients from around Indiana during a Feb. 26 ceremony at the Indiana Government Center Auditorium in Indianapolis.

A second-year student in Heartland’s criminal justice program, Madison was selected because of her excellent academic record, Hobbs told The Paper of Wabash County.

“We were looking for a student in the top 10 of her class,” he said. “She’s ranked fifth (at North Miami High School). We wanted someone who has been here two years. She was actually a Lilly Scholar finalist in Miami County.

“She’s just one of those students who go above and beyond both in school and out of school. She just kind of achieved excellence. That’s what this award is; it’s an award for excellence.”

By the time she graduates later this year, Madison will have achieved 30 college credits, 18 of which she achieved at Heartland.

She also is heavily involved in extracurricular activities, having earned All-Three Rivers Conference honors for the North Miami soccer team and led the state in saves.

“She played quite a bit of the season with a broken finger that actually required surgery,” Hobbs noted. “She didn’t want to let her team down.”

Madison was excited and a bit apprehensive when she found out she had been nominated for the award.

“It was like, ‘Oh, no, this is serious,’” she said. “This is big because of how early in advance (Hobbs) started asking me for everything. I had to go to my principal and ask for a letter of recommendation.

“It is really cool to have hard work recognized. I was really humbled by the fact that I know there’s so many deserving kids at Heartland and to be one of those chosen for the award was – well, I’m just grateful for it. It’s nice to see work being recognized like that.”

When Madison learned she had won an award, she was actually at her Macy home doing eLearning during the recent polar vortex.

“I kind of like jumped up and down,” she recalled. “I was so excited because I knew there was going to be a ceremony and everything that my parents would get to go to. I guess part of me was hoping they would see this accomplishment and be proud. I am just happy to be able to represent Heartland and North Miami.

As part of the nomination process, her high school principal, Matt Storm, and her Heartland instructor, Leroy Striker, had to write letters of recommendation. Pete DuPont, Heartland’s supervisor of student services, also provided a letter.

“Our future lies in the hands of our students,” Striker wrote. “Madison is one who gives me hope. Her constant drive to seek her goals and ambitions are ever-present and she welcomes challenges and deals with adversity when confronted.”

Storm wrote Madison “has always exhibited the highest level of character, is intelligent, athletic and likeable. Academically and athletically, Madison puts consistent effort into reaching her goals.”

Madison, the daughter of Lee France and Jaci France, plans to attend Indiana State University and eventually would like to one day join the Indiana State Police specializing in cybercriminology and security. Early in her high school career, she wanted to pursue a degree in psychology.

“I wanted to do psychology and figure out how peoples’ minds work,” she said. “Coming (to Heartland), it had switched from psychology to criminal psychology or forensic psychology.”

She said that while she wants to help people, she also wants to make a difference.

“If you look at the media now, you either see police doing really great things or you see police brutality, racial profiling, things like that,” Madison said. “I want to be a police officer people can look at and trust and know that I’m going to protect them and have their best interest in mind. I’m there to protect and serve; I’m not there to pursue my own agenda.”

She thanked Hobbs, Striker and the entire Heartland staff for helping her over the past two years.

The Community Foundation’s nomination was for Excellence in Secondary Partnerships.

“The Community Foundation has been a tremendous supporter of skill attainment and career and technical education for students from all of Wabash County and Miami County,” Hobbs said. “Even though they’re the Community Foundation of Wabash County, they’re supportive of all of Heartland. They’re tremendous supporters.”

Over the last five years, Hobbs noted in the nomination form, the Community Foundation has supported the school with grants to help credential the school’s welding instructor which, in turn, led to credentialing opportunities for high school and adult students.

Community Foundation provided a grant to establish a preschool at Heartland. That, Hobbs noted, also enabled the school’s early childhood education students a chance to provide educational services for 20 preschool children.

The nomination was supported by letters from superintendents Jason Callahan and Mike Keaffaber of Wabash City Schools and MSD of Wabash County, respectively, as well as Mike Pettitbone, former Manchester Community Schools interim superintendent.

Honeywell Foundation Educational Outreach director Teresa Galley and Keith Gillenwater, Grow Wabash County president and CEO, also provided letters of support.

“The Community Foundation is so honored to be a funder with this innovative group,” Julie Garber, Community Foundation’s program director, said in a news release. “Only through collaboration and a bit of fearlessness to try new ideas can we make things happen in the county. And, of course, none of it would be possible without the generous donors to the Community Foundation who are equally brave about launching great initiatives. I’m grateful every day to live in this creative, supportive, mutually challenging community.”

Community Foundation Executive Director Patty Grant said, “We are humbled by the supportive comments and recommendations of our educational partners and are extremely appreciated to have been selected for this award. Our work is made possible through the support and generosity of others, and we extend this award to all who have helped make our success possible.”

Posted on 2019 Feb 19