First Steps Approved for New Child Care Center

Albion, IN – The Albion Town Council has approved the submission of requests for proposals to conduct a fiscal analysis and architectural study, the first steps to building a new child care center in Albion.

The Town of Albion, Kendallville Day Care, and Noble Thrive by 5 have partnered to help address the lack of child care capacity in the community. The preliminary plan to construct a new building to house a second location of Kendallville Day Care would include using Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funds from Albion, as well as enacting a robust grant funding strategy, public fundraising campaign, and a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant proposal.

This project is critical to the community because there is such a need for child care seats in Noble County, said Jenna Anderson, Noble Thrive by 5 Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator.

“Early Learning Indiana’s recent Closing the Gap study estimated that there are 2,240 children under the age of six who need care in Noble County,” said Anderson. We only have seats for a fraction of those, and wait lists at local child care providers keep growing.”

“As an Albion native for over 40 years, I have personally been a part of and witnessed the struggle, for children and families, of finding high-quality, licensed, childcare in our small – but growing – community,” said Tina Lee, Director of the Kendallville Day Care Center. “While Albion has always been a tight-knit community, blessed with loving homes and facilities to care for children, there just simply are not enough child care options for families to meet the workforce demand.”

Preliminary estimates for the project are at $2 million for capital costs. The funding strategy will include up to $1.32 million in grant dollars, plus additional money coming from a local fundraising campaign. TIF funds would fill in the gap between the amount raised and the total cost to build.

“TIF funds are meant to spur economic development or fund infrastructure construction within the TIF district that would not occur without the availability of the funds,” said Albion Town Manager Jacob Ihrie. “The construction of a daycare facility meets this mission. According to the Early Learning Policy Group, the child care industry has an economic impact of $99.3 billion through direct and indirect impacts.”

Once the fiscal analysis is in hand, Noble Thrive by 5 will begin applying for grants to support the project. The amount of funds raised will decrease the TIF responsibility of the town.

The lack of child care in Noble County not only affects families, but it also affects the economy. Employers have noted that a lack of child care has been a barrier to filling their open positions. Creating space in a new facility will provide care for up to 150 children, which is the approximate number of children on waiting lists at Noble County’s major providers. Those parents can then enter the workforce, bolstering our economy.

“Simply put, child care is economic development,” said Ihrie. “It gives parents the freedom to pursue careers when they otherwise couldn’t due to a lack of childcare options.”

Ihrie continued, “Through making investments in increasing child care options, we hope to signal to our employers that we want them here, we want their employees to have more reliable child care options, and we want more individuals to feel like Albion is or could be their home.”

Much thought went into approaching the Kendallville Day Care Center to expand into Albion.

“It’s important to build on an asset that is already in our community,” said Anderson. “Kendallville Day Care is a high-quality, licensed center that is on Paths to Quality, and provides early learning curriculum for its youngest children, even infants, to give them the best possible start in life.”

Kendallville Day Care supports low income families through acceptance of Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) vouchers and On My Way Pre-K, which provides free high quality preschool opportunities to qualified families.

“All children deserve a location where they can feel safe, valued, equal, and that their basic human needs will be met by loving, compassionate, and qualified caregivers,” said Lee. “I’m proud to be part of the team bringing more child care options to my hometown!”

Expanding the Kendallville Day Care is the first step in addressing the issues of capacity, quality and affordability of child care and early learning in Noble County. It will provide more choices for families, as well as support existing child care facilities by the opportunities this project will bring, including new partnerships with employers.

“This is innovative,” said Ihrie. “This is something that, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been pursued in the State of Indiana. This is an opportunity to show that rural counties can innovate. We can defy the odds. As I round out my first year as Albion’s Town Manager, I have been astounded by our community’s resilience, and I am hopeful that we can continue contributing to this resilience through our innovation, determination, and resolve.”

Noble County Child Care Investments = $1.126 Million

For Immediate Release – July 5, 2022

Stabilization Funds Support Early Learning, Set the Stage for Expansion

Ligonier, IN – After the second and final round of Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants, Noble County child care providers received more than $1.126 million to support their businesses.

In the first round of Stabilization Grants in late 2021, Noble County providers received a total of nearly $360,000, equaling an estimated three months of operating expenses. The second round, available in early 2022, provided five months of operating expenses. Because more child care facilities were eligible to apply for the second round, the amount being invested in Noble County exceeded expectations. Providers were granted about $766,000, far more than the original estimate of $600,000.

“We were so excited to see more local child care providers take advantage of the second round of Stabilization Grants,” said Noble Thrive by 5 Coalition Coordinator Jenna Anderson. Her office has assisted local child care providers with the grant application process when needed.

These funds have not only spurred the increase of salaries in some cases, but have also provided relief for underpaid child care staff in the form of bonuses and added benefits.”

These funds came from a portion of Indiana’s appropriation of the American Rescue Plan Act. Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants were non-competitive and designed to provide short-term funding to early childhood and out-of-school-time programs that have faced increased costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible providers are using the grant funds to stabilize their operations and build capacity for the future, including spending at least 25% of the grant funding on increasing staff wages and benefits. Dollars can be used across six categories of allowable expenses ranging from personnel costs and facility fees to mental health supports for children and staff.

Grant awards were calculated using a cost estimation formula which considers each provider’s licensed program type, average attendance, staffing costs, quality level and geography to arrive at an estimated funding level.

In the four-county Northeast Indiana region, child care providers in LaGrange, Steuben, Dekalb, and Noble counties earned just over $5.5 million in Stabilization Grant funds.

This money has helped our providers tremendously by giving an infusion of funds when it was needed the most,” said Anderson. “What can be used for expansion, which was not within the Stabilization Grant guidelines.”

According to the Early Learning Indiana Closing the Gap Profile, as of February 2022 Noble County only had 28.2% of the capacity needed in child care and early learning programs. This gap in care for 0-5 year olds is affecting the economy, as local employers struggle to hire folks to fill their open positions, and family members can’t work when they can’t find quality, affordable child care.

Noble Thrive by 5 is working with a number of providers, employers, and organizations to increase the amount of child care and early learning programs in Noble County. Anyone who would like to learn more about the work of Noble Thrive by 5 can reach Anderson at 260-445-3369 or

Noble County IS Collaboration

Written by Jenna Anderson, Noble Thrive by 5 Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator

I may not be native to Noble County, but I have made it my home for the last 22 years. During that time, I didn’t simply sit back and let the world happen around me. I got involved, and something became clear very quickly. Noble County is the definition of the word collaboration. Looking back, I know I saw this when I was a reporter for The News Sun. Moving to the Kendallville Public Library, I noticed that we partnered with many organizations throughout the community to create important programs and services. But it wasn’t until about 2017 when I recognized it for what it truly was.

Noble Thrive by 5 Coordinator Jenna Anderson addresses a group of more than 30 Noble County Leaders representing a wide variety of organizations. New Community Initiatives hosted forum to examine solutions for Noble County’s child care challenges on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Ligonier.

I was donating my time and talents to the United Way of Noble County to create a video that would run at their first Power of the Purse event. I was asked to attend an Interagency Meeting to record the communication and collaboration that goes on among social service agencies. It’s not overstating to tell you that I was blown away by this monthly gathering. Around 30 agencies serving Noble County were represented. Some were based in Noble County and some were headquartered elsewhere in the region but serve Noble County residents. All were committed to collaboration that benefits those living and working in our little slice of Indiana. They shared the work they were doing. They shared grant opportunities that they had found, even though another agency applying for the same funds might prevent their own organization from receiving the grant. I heard from an agency that serves multiple counties that they were awed by the collaboration and cooperation in Noble County, because they do not find it within the other counties they serve. I saw the groups getting together right after the main meeting to talk about how they can join forces. That’s when I realized what I had known all along about Noble County…we are the definition of collaboration.

It’s the reason I’m so involved in my community. Heck, it’s the reason why I took the job as Noble Thrive by 5’s Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator. No one person, organization, or even a small group of agencies is going to solve the complex challenges surrounding child care and early learning. It’s going to take ALL OF US.

If I hadn’t witnessed the power of teamwork within Noble County, I would have turned down the position back when it was offered to me in September 2021. But because I know our organizations and individuals are committed to working together and not duplicating services; because I have seen the powerful things that can be built by many having a common goal (such as the Community Learning Center); because I have been part of groups that literally change the landscape of the community for common good (Noble Trails); I knew that Noble Thrive by 5 would have all it needed to increase the capacity, quality, and affordability of child care and early learning experiences in Noble County. It has the power of collaboration behind it.

A table of four people representing different organizations throughout Noble County and the region work together to identify Noble County’s assets and link them to create opportunities to solve child care challenges. Organizations represented include Stone’s Hill Church, Lighthouse Childcare and Learning Service, Cole Family YMCA, and the Northeast Indiana Regional Early Childhood Coalition.

Noble Thrive by 5 wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without three main organizations seeing its value and working together. The Community Foundation of Noble County, Noble County Economic Development Corporation, and United Way of Noble County (now Crossroads United Way) saw how the lack of child care and early learning opportunities affect so many in our community. It affects, families, businesses, the economy…it’s incredible how much it touches. Because of that, those three organizations brought other stakeholders into the collaboration. Brightpoint, Parkview, the YMCA, educators, employers, community leaders, child care providers, social service organizations, and more. Since joining the team, I have been working closely with New Community Initiatives based in Ligonier, which is made up of a large number of community leaders, the Community Learning Center’s Leadership Team of dedicated programmers and supported organizations, The ARC Noble County Foundations, which reached out to offer assistance with staffing, with the Town of Albion and its manager on the potential for a new child care center. We’re working beyond the borders of Noble County to create a Regional Early Childhood Coalition which will enable further collaboration throughout our 11 counties in Northeast Indiana. We are meeting with coalitions and child care providers across the state to work together to solve the challenges all of our communities face.

I can’t possibly list all the partnerships surrounding just this one project. But my point is this: Noble County is collaboration. Every day, those of us who live and work here team up to make our community a better place. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Q&A with Noble Thrive by 5 Leader Tammy Pifer

The work that’s being done by the Early Childhood Coalition is done by a team of experts in a variety of fields, who are passionate about making sure that Noble County has a solid foundation of high quality and affordable child care and early learning facilities. Here is the story of BrightPoint’s Tammy Pifer, in her own words.

Question: How did you get into Early Childhood Education?

Tammy: I am a Social Worker by training and have my Bachelor’s degree in that field.  Even as I went through that program I knew that I wanted to do community work and not have my own practice. During the summers I worked at Easter Seals ARC’s special needs childcare and interned with their First Steps Developmental Therapists.  That was my introduction to working with small children and their families.  I fell in love with the family services pieces and became passionate about working with families with small children.  After school I started working with Healthy Families and then Early Head Start. I have now been working in early childhood programs for over 20 years. During that time as well I decided that I am passionate enough about early childhood education that I got my Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Early Childhood Education.

Question: Why are you passionate about it?

Tammy: I am passionate about working with families with infants and toddlers because I know the importance of those early years.  Programs can only do so much, we have to partner with parents to help them be able to support their child’s growth and development. 

Question: Tell us about your career advancement?

Tammy: I started working with children in my pre-teen years as a babysitter.  I worked at a special needs childcare during summers of college.  After college I worked in a community childcare facility.  I started working at Brightpoint 22 years ago in the Childcare Voucher program as an Intake Specialist.  I then worked as a Coordinator for a program that helped childcare providers receive funding to help them move up levels in the Paths to Quality program.  When that program ended, I became a Home Visitor for the Healthy Families program. I moved into a Quality Assurance Supervisor position, then to a Program Supervisor, and eventually to the Program Manager.  When Brightpoint received the Early Head Start program in 2010, I became the Program Manager for that program. I am currently the Monitoring Analysis & Compliance Manager where I help the program analyze data from the program to make program decisions.  This year I also was asked to be an Adjunct Instructor for Ivy Tech Community College. 

Question: Tell us a little about those Ivy Tech Classes.

Tammy: This semester I am teaching two 8-week accelerated courses in Child Growth & Development.  This is a 100 level class to get students familiar with the basics of child development from prenatal to age 8. Being a lifelong learner is something that is also very important to me and I want to help students also gain that love of education and early childhood.  We are also facing an extreme shortage of teachers and staff in early childhood so I want to do my part to help bring more people into this field.  I think my experience can help students see the importance of caring for little ones beyond what’s in a text book.

What do you hope for the future of Early Childhood Education in Noble County?

My hope for Early Childhood Education in Noble County is that the entire community understands the need to have a strong Early Childhood Education system and bands together to provide that for all our children. I would love to see us be a Center of Excellence that other communities look to for an example of how to do it.

Question: Anything else you want to add?

Tammy: As a part of my passion for learning, early childhood, and working with families I have also taken every opportunity I can to build skills for myself and that would benefit others.  While I worked for Healthy Families I was a Certified Peer Reviewer. I am a PITC (Program for Infant Toddler Care) Trainer, I am a Certified Family Development Instructor through the University of Connecticut, and I am a Home Visitor CDA Professional Development Specialist.  These things allow me to help us create the best programs for children and families that we can.

Resiliency is Created in Early Childhood

When do people develop resiliency? According to Stacey Gagnon, founder of Lost Sparrows, it is the time that they are in utero up until age 2.

During this time, implicit memories are lodged in the brain, and even these memories can create adverse behaviors in adults.

As babies form attachments – when they are soothed if they are fussy or cuddled when they are lonely – that innately tells them “I am loved. I am worthy,” said Gagnon.

Babies who don’t have that care, who face difficult childhoods all the way through age 18 are at higher risk of pulmonary and cardiovascular damage, experience broken marriage, or deal with mental and emotional challenges throughout their lives.

Gagnon says all this can be tracked through an ACE study. ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. Those include characteristics like feeling unloved, dealing with a parent who had a drug or alcohol addiction, being a victim of molestation, coming from a split family, and more. A high ACE score is considered 4 and above out of 10. If you’ve experienced at least four out of the ten Adverse Childhood Experiences listed, then you are at risk.

We know that the ages of 0-5 are critical to a child’s healthy development. Millions of neural pathways are created every minute. Very young children who experience these ACEs – trauma before age 2 – can actually have their neural networks adversely restructured, said Gagnon.

The good new is that the brain can always learn, change and form new pathways. This is why Lost Sparrows was formed…to help children and adults who experienced trauma at an early age get back on the right path. To make better choices, to live healthier lives.

Learn more at

Noble County Families Benefit from On My Way Pre-K Grants, Programs

Recently, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration released the results of two studies that show children are part of the On My Way Pre-K program are better prepared for school and that the benefits continue well into elementary school.

This news comes as no surprise to East Noble Assistant Superintendent Becca Lamon, who was instrumental in launching the East Noble School Corporation’s Preschool program, one of two programs in Noble County to accept On My Way Pre-K grants for families.

“There is long standing research to support that high quality learning experiences affect life long outcomes for students,” said Lamon. “High quality preschool experiences provide students with a higher rate of vocabulary acquisition and the building blocks for future success.  Preschool programs that have obtained a PTQ 3 or 4 rating help facilitate this student success by ensuring that the health and safety of students has been addressed and have also examined the instructional strategies and curriculum choices that aid in student learning.”

With just ten families in Noble County taking advantage of the program in the current school year, Noble County’s Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator, Jenna Anderson, knows there is room for improvement. She heads Noble Thrive by 5, which is focused on capacity, affordability and quality of child care and preschool programs in Noble County.

“We know that a high-quality preschool program is important to a child’s development, not only in the short-term but over the course of their lives,” said Anderson. “We also know that there are struggling families in Noble County who could use these grants to provide their children with a great foundation for success.”

Kendallville Day Care Center and the East Noble Preschool Program (housed in Avilla School) are the only two providers in Noble County that accept On My Way Pre-K grants. Approved programs may be in a public or private school, licensed childcare center, licensed home or registered ministry as long as that program meets the quality requirements and is registered as an On My Way Pre-K Provider.

Providers interested in learning more about becoming an On My Way Pre-K program can contact Anderson at jenna@noblethriveby5 or through the Community Foundation of Noble County at 260-897-3335.

About the On My Way Pre-K Studies:

The first study released by FSSA is a multi-year longitudinal study demonstrating that children who attend the On My Way Pre-K program have stronger school readiness, language and literacy skills than their peers with similar family incomes who attend lower quality childcare or prekindergarten programs. On My Way Pre-K allows 4-year-old children of low-income families to attend high-quality early education programs for a year before entering kindergarten. The study was conducted by Purdue University researchers from the Center for Early Learning. The study revealed that the pattern of On My Way Pre-K children outperforming their peers continued through the third and fourth grades, as measured in standardized Math and English/Language Arts scores.

Additionally, On My Way Pre-K children from the 2020-2021 school year matched up positively compared to national norms established for all prekindergarten children in the first annual Kindergarten Readiness Indicators assessment, conducted by the University of Chicago.

Results of both the Purdue study and the University of Chicago study are available here.

“The studies show that Indiana’s investment in high-quality early education for the children of lower-income families is helping our youngest learners achieve at their greatest potential for years to come,” said Gov. Eric J. Holcomb. “Giving children a good start on their education pathway delivers a more well-prepared student and ultimately a ready to go workforce, both key elements to our state’s future growth and opportunity.”

Noble County Receives Federal Child Care Stabilization Grant Funds

Noble County child care providers received a total of $359,601.00 in Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Funds.

Funded by a portion of Indiana’s appropriation of the American Rescue Plan Act, Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants are non-competitive and designed to provide short-term funding to early childhood and out-of-school-time programs that have faced increased costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers must meet eligibility criteria and agree to use grant funds to stabilize their operations and build capacity for the future, including spending at least 25% of the grant funding on increasing staff wages and benefits. Dollars can be used across six categories of allowable expenses ranging from personnel costs and facility fees to mental health supports for children and staff.

Grant awards are calculated using a cost estimation formula which considers each provider’s licensed program type, average attendance, staffing costs, quality level and geography to arrive at an estimated funding level.

“Access to these funds means so much to the child care providers in Noble County,” said Jenna Anderson, coordinator for Noble Thrive by 5. “We know that some of them will be able to retain staff and hire new staff due to increased wages, bonuses and benefits. It will also allow many providers to update their facilities and provide more quality early learning experiences for our youngest residents.”

Additionally in the four county area, Dekalb County providers received $419,500, Steuben County providers received $582,386.00, and LaGrange County providers received $169,954.00.

“Noble County children will benefit from those funds, as well,” said Anderson. “Because Noble County’s child care capacity is smaller than the need, many families have to go outside of the county to find child care.”

She noted that a portion of the $423,181.00 given to Whitley County, too, will benefit providers who care for Noble County children.

The applications for a second round of Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants will open on Monday, January 17 and continue through April 15. Providers who previously applied for funding in 2021 can apply again, once they complete their Round 1 Grant Report.

In addition to funding for providers, Build, Learn, Grow Family Scholarships have been extended. Families who are in a child care program and have at least one parent working in an essential field can apply through June 2022. This funding can cover all or a percentage of child care costs, depending on income.

Anyone with questions about this funding, or any questions related to child care and early learning in Noble County can reach Anderson at 260-445-3369 or

Children are Capable

“Children can do more than you think.” That was one of the first things I heard when I accepted the job of Noble Thrive by 5 Coordinator. 

I remembered back to when my son was young. What did I let him do on his own? Probably not much because I was afraid he would hurt himself, or test my patience. He’s 20 now, but I admit there are still things I am afraid to let him do on his own. I suppose I would have fallen under the category of “helicopter parent.” I’ve apologized to him for that. 

The Apple Tree Center, which provides Preschool, out of school camps, and before/after school care understands the concept of “children can do more than you think.” On November 24, 2021, they engaged the children in the kitchen, preparing for a Thanksgiving feast. They divided into groups, with one working on the mashed potatoes, one taking on the task of preparing the pumpkin pie dessert, yet another setting the table, and a group making the stuffing. There were even more groups, as it takes a lot of hands to make a Thanksgiving mealT

Everyone from preschoolers (the youngest being age 3) to upper elementary students got involved. They had a wonderful time mixing, scraping bowls, adding ingredients, and yes, sampling a little of the food along the way. They were having fun, but best of all, they were learning and building confidence in themselves. They can do the work…under the careful guidance of Miss Debbie and other adults, of course. 

It’s not just preparing a meal that The Apple Tree Center lets the children do. They also sweep floors, clean up after themselves, and put toys away. Sometimes, it’s disappointing for parents when the children are happy to do that work at the center, but refuse to do it at home! 

I wish I knew then what I know now. If I could have a do-over of raising my son, I would let him try so many more things earlier in his life. I can hope that he will learn from my mistakes and allow his own children the chance to try thing new things, even if he doesn’t think they can do it. Children know when they are ready!

Here’s a video from our partners The Dekko Foundation about how children CAN be self-sufficient. Let us know what you think, and how you allow your children to explore at home.  — Jenna Anderson, Noble Thrive by 5 Coordinator

Children Need Meaningful Connections to Thrive

We believe every child can thrive by 5…in fact, it’s in our name! But don’t take our word for it. Here’s a pretty incredible seven-year-old to tell you how to make it happen.

One of the things Molly said really resonated with us…

Kids are hard-wired to seek out meaningful connections.

The Developmental Assets® Framework created by the Search Institute has identified 40 positive supports and strengths that young people need to succeed. Many of them focus specifically on supportive relationships. The Search Institute believes children need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them.

  • Family support—Family life provides high levels of love and support.
  • Positive family communication—Young person and their parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek parent(s) advice and counsel.
  • Other adult relationships—Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
  • Caring neighborhood—Young person experiences caring neighbors.
  • Caring school climate—School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
  • Parent involvement in schooling—Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.

According to the Search Institute, those developmental relationships need to do five things:

  1. Express Care
  2. Challenge Growth
  3. Provide Support
  4. Share Power
  5. Expand Possibilities

These five things aren’t hard to do…and in fact are often done every day without even thinking of it. Simply listening to your child – putting down your device and listening when you are together – can show you care. To challenge growth, let your kids try new things. They can do more than you think they can! They can help you with dishes, fold laundry, join in cooking or baking, and will love every minute of it. Support them by giving them a hand if they try to do too much and standing up for them when it’s needed. Share your power by working with children to solve problems and let them have a say in decisions that affect them. Simply by introducing them to new people and experiences, you can expand their possibilities.

You’re there for your children, and Noble Thrive by 5 is here for you. We can connect you with local resources to give your family a bright future. Visit us online at

Libraries Offer Free Early Childhood Education

Posters of trees with plastic apples attached
Felt apple pie baking activity

Our local libraries have a lot to offer families with young children, as well as child care providers. Among the benefits are free Early Childhood Education tools. 

Preschool Storytimes offered throughout the week bring parents in with their children to listen to stories, sing songs, and get their hands on activities that help with development and learning. These events are offered Fridays at 11:00 a.m. at the Ligonier Public Library, Mondays at 10:00 a.m. at the Limberlost Branch of the Kendallville Public Library and Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. and Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. at the Kendallville Public Library. The Noble County Public Library, with branches in Albion, Avilla, and Cromwell, offers storytime weekly in Albion on Tuesdays at 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. In Avilla, storytime is on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. and in Cromwell the sessions are on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m.

In addition to these scheduled events, libraries can also offer activities in local child care centers, as staff time allows. 

Many libraries offer play areas for children, and the Kendallville Public Library is no exception. 

A lot of thought goes into KPL’s play area, which features activities that involve large and small motor skills, role playing, creativity, and imagination. The bottom line…the children are learning (but having fun doing it). 

November’s theme at the Kendallville location will revolve around the new 171 gallon Salt Water Fish Tank that is currently being installed. The theme that was in Kendallville in October, Apple Orchard, moves to to the Limberlost Branch in Rome City in November, so children still have a chance to go apple picking!

KPL Youth Services Assistant Tracey Walton (a former YMCA Preschool Teacher) says she starts with a theme and then challenges herself to find activities that lead to learning.

“Children can take a basket and simulate the activity of picking apples from the trees on our wall,” she said in October. “This activity can be fun by itself or be expanded by reattaching the apples to the velcro circles. This can be a challenge for the younger children but it is amazing to see them troubleshoot as to why it didn’t stick  — it may not match up with the velcro dots on the wall. If they choose, they can bring their apples to market, make an apple pie, sell their pies…lots of role playing in this activity.”

Along with the main theme, Tracey said she usually puts out blocks to build with (enhances motor skills), or magna tiles (motor skills plus visual stimulation when used on the light table). 

“Cute play areas draw attention, but it is the activities that keep them engaged,” said Tracey.

The collections at libraries are filled with enriching books and activities for your children! From STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Kits to Launchpads to Board Books perfect for infants and toddlers, the libraries are dedicated to offering the community what it wants and needs. Is something missing? Just ask about it at your local branch! The great thing about the library systems in Noble County is that they are all part of Evergreen Indiana. This consortium of over 180 libraries in Indiana works together to loan parts of their collection to other libraries. Not everything can be delivered to your home library, but most items can. Plus, your library card can be used when you visit those libraries in person. For a complete list of Evergreen Indiana Libraries, visit this link.

For more information on what your local library offers, here are the people you can contact at each library system:

  • Kendallville Public Library (Kendallville and Rome City): Mary Graber at
  • Ligonier Public Library: Angie Scott at
  • Noble County Public Library (Albion, Avilla, and Cromwell): Kelly Parks at