We try to be humble –– but these team members are REALLY awesome!

Sarah Metzler, Director of Foundations for LearningSarah Metzler, Director of Foundations for Learning

Sarah MetzlerSarah’s educational journey has led to diverse experiences and perspectives on child development. As an 8-year old, she was immersed in a public elementary school in Paraguay, where she later returned to volunteer for a year in a children’s shelter. After graduating from Goshen College with degrees in art and conflict resolution, Sarah served as an Americorps volunteer with the Juvenile Justice Department and Victim Offender Reconciliation Program in Boulder, Colorado. She has also instructed young adult English language learners in Chile and taught at the high school and middle school levels in Colorado before returning to Elkhart County, where she served as a TAP Master Teacher and Instructional Guide in Goshen Public School System. Sarah has been an integral part of three systemic school and district-level reform programs: Standards-Based Education in Colorado and TAP and EL Education (Formerly Expeditionary Learning) in Goshen Public Schools.

Sarah enthusiastically joins HEA because of their dedication to transforming the county through innovation, collaboration, and education. In her role as Director of Foundations for Learning with HEA, she looks forward to drawing on her knowledge of systems and on her experiences working in educational settings across the lifespan.

Misael Cortez, CPT/ELL InstructorMisael Cortez, CPT/ELL Instructor

During Misael’s childhood and young adult life, he worked alongside his father in his farming endeavors. He worked in a manufacturing setting for more than 10 years while attending Holy Cross College to obtain his Bachelor of Arts degree. His combination of skills fit well with HEA’s newly initiated apprenticeship program that bridges the gap between soft and hard skills within the manufacturing community in Elkhart County.

The new program applies theory and practice in a hands-on learning setting. Misael believes that he can provide apprentice students with valuable experiences to further both his and his students’ formation.

Lena Maldonado, Orientation CoordinatorLena Maldonado, Orientation Coordinator

EA Orientation Coordinator Lena Maldonado obtained a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from Baylor University and has 15 years of experience working in government, law, and medical sectors. She worked for the Social Security Administration and the Housing Authority and has extensive legal knowledge working in private law offices and non-profit organizations.

Lena is honored to work for an organization that offers free educational programs and resources to the people of Elkhart County. To her, this is important so that they can enrich their lives and make a difference in their community.

Breanna Allen, Pathways CoordinatorBreanna Allen, Pathways Coordinator

Born and raised in Terre Haute, Ind., Breanna made her way up to the South Bend-Elkhart region in 2012 as a Higher Education Administrator. Over the past six years, Breanna has worked for Harrison College and Ivy Tech Community College in various roles such as Manager of Student Services and Director of Career Development. Breanna’s work experience includes assisting college students in preparation for the workforce and logistical coordination in higher education. Understanding our area’s workforce and providing equitable education is Breanna’s passion, which is what drew her to HEA.

Kathleen Jones: Project-Based Learning CoachKathleen Jones, Project-Based Learning Coach

Originally from Atlanta, Ga., Kathleen Jones is an educator with over 15 years of project-based learning (PBL) experience. After moving to Elkhart County in 2017, Kathleen connected with HEA and is excited to be applying her PBL expertise to HEA’s Business/Education Roundtables program. In her role, Kathleen leads teacher professional development, facilitates planning and exchange sessions, and ensures teachers are supported as they implement project-based units.

Kathleen has been struck by HEA’s level of commitment to the big “birth-to-adulthood” picture when considering how to increase educational attainment in Elkhart County.

Hillary Harder, El Sistema Coordinator for Elkhart CountyHillary Harder, El Sistema Coordinator for Elkhart County

Hillary Harder grew up in Wichita, Kan. where she attended a dual-language school and began making music at an early age. Whether playing bluegrass with her family band, singing in community and school choirs, or playing in the youth symphony orchestra, there was never a shortage of challenging and rewarding experiences making music in an ensemble. Hillary received her Bachelor of Arts from Goshen College in Music and Spanish, spending significant time performing but also working with youth through the Music Together program and the Youth Honors Orchestras through the Community School of the Arts.

Following a year in Los Angeles and the completion of the Master of Arts in Teaching degree, Hillary brought her studies of El Sistema back to Elkhart County to begin teaching at Roosevelt STEAM Academy. There, she was part of the team of educators developing the first in-school El Sistema program in the county. Now, Hillary is honored to be joining in this partnership to further broaden the vision of El Sistema in Elkhart County.

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

A Farewell Message from Kathy Royer

Kathy Royer2012 was a good year; my professional life took yet another turn when HEA offered me the opportunity to commit the final years of my work life to make the place I call home better. What a gift!

I have seen some of my dreams fulfilled during these past six years. A growing number of adults have training opportunities that set them on a pathway to success. Little children have more access to high-quality learning opportunities that will prepare them for the untold wonders of our unfolding future. Over a thousand Elkhart County parents have gained skills that make them better parents, able to support and sustain the positive growth of their offspring. A growing group of lifelong learners finds pleasure in learning new things. Children and young adults are taught how to live more balanced, productive lives using problem-solving life skills.

Now it is time for me to let go of this compelling work and hand it over to fresh minds and bodies. I welcome the next generation of HEA workers who will take Elkhart County further along the pathway to making Elkhart County a beacon of learning, here in the Midwest and even across the nation.

A Farewell Message to Kathy

HEA Executive Director Brian Wiebe

Kathy Royer has shaped HEA in significant ways, and our community is indebted to her for her many contributions.

Kathy has had a very successful career pathway. Soon after graduating from Goshen College, she was a newspaper reporter in Nappanee and then worked with the High Commission for Refugees in Africa alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others. Kathy returned to the U.S. and held several leadership positions in northern Indiana before creating “Community Partnerships and Service Learning” at Notre Dame, winning a prestigious university award for this work in 1999. She then led the organization Learning Generation Initiative (LGI) in Elkhart and LaGrange Counties, which had been launched with a Lilly Endowment grant.

I met Kathy in 2011 when she was leading LGI. We had conversations about the vision that was emerging in Elkhart County that would ultimately lead to the launch of Horizon Education Alliance. Once HEA was created, we determined through conversations with both of our boards that it made sense to merge our organizations. Kathy became the associate director of HEA.

During the next five-and-a-half years, Kathy shaped the ongoing development of HEA’s adult education model. She also became a strong champion of early learning in our county, helping with the roll-outs of Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, the Tools of the Mind pilots in pre-k and kindergarten, and the PAX Good Behavior Game in many elementary schools. In addition to this programmatic leadership, she also made significant contributions to our staff culture.

HEA will always be grateful to Kathy for the significant role she has played in the launch of our organization, and we certainly wish her well as she enters retirement. So many in Elkhart County consider it a privilege to count her as a close friend.