16 Mar Community Partnerships Making the Difference
On March 13, a unique tour took place at Thor Motor Coach in Wakarusa. This tour focused on the three-way partnership between the Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship, Wakarusa based Thor Motor Coach and South Bend based Teachers Credit Union. Rob Staley, Founder and CEO of the Crossing, led Executives from Teachers Credit Union through one of the Crossing’s satellite campuses located within Thor Motor Coach. Receiving Tuesday’s tour was TCU President and CEO, Paul Marsh, and other members of the TCU executive team. Representing Thor Motor Coach was James DeMorrow, Assistant VP of Operations, Stan Meyers, Director of Wire Harness/CNC, and Laurie Keyser, Director of Human Resources.
Rob Staley started the tour by thanking TCU for their continued support over the years. “TCU is just an incredible partner and they have made it possible to do what we do across Indiana,” said Staley. “We’re excited about how we’ve grown our relationship with TCU – starting with a simple ($100) deposit in 2003 to how we’ve expanded our relationship today in many ways. I never dreamed we would actually end up in a working situation like this with a business model stretching across Indiana and working with the Department of Education.” TCU has supported the Crossing since its inception with flexible loans, lines of credit, and grants. Starting in 2015, TCU also contributed $20,000 a year for three years for leadership development and $5,000 a year in 2017 and 2018 for an entrepreneurship initiative.
Thanks to the financial support of TCU, other local businesses & organizations and individual donors, the Crossing has created a partnership model with manufacturers like Thor Motor Coach where the education happens inside the plant. “Who would have ever guessed someone would take the risk of bringing a group of struggling students into a manufacturing location and think you’re going to produce anything good,” said Staley. “We have been told we are benefiting this company in that the people mentoring our kids on the production floor are really growing in their character and have positively affected the corporate culture while helping our kids. It’s really a win-win,”add Staley.
James DeMorrow agreed, “I always say, if you want to change the manufacturing environment, build a school in it.” He added that he appreciates the learning environment of the shared education and work space.
Thor Motor Coach has been a big supporter of the Crossing’s mission to empower struggling students to become contributing members of their communities through academics, job training and faith-based character education which is evident in this partnership.
The Crossing satellite model is a full day program with students spending half of the day in the classroom doing their school work and half of the day working on the floor with an assigned Thor employee. The Thor employees act as mentors to the students while providing on the job training. Students are being taught by Crossing Job Training Instructor, Shannon Cooper, the soft skills they need to be successful in any career through classes and everyday learning opportunities. Midway through the day, students gather in the Family Time room where Crossing teachers discuss life struggles and offer guidance using biblical principles.
Crossing students, Ryan and Logan, were asked what makes the Crossing different. Their answer was two-fold. First it’s the relationships they have with the teachers. The teachers are always there for them and help them no matter what. Second, it’s the job training program. They love learning new skills and working at Thor. It’s an opportunity that they are thankful for, considering they were both struggling prior to the Crossing.
Media were invited to be part of the March 13 tour. Below is a sampling of links to their coverage: