By Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
---- — Mary Roller is a familiar face at the local Ivy Tech Cooperative in Rushville. A life-long educator, Roller has witnessed a number of changes in the education process since her days in school.
A 1970 graduate of Rushville Consolidated High School, she first furthered her education at Earlham College.
“After three years at Earlham, and at that time of my life, I decided I wanted to work with senior citizens so I transferred to Ball State University in Muncie and graduated from BSU 1978,” Roller said.
Following college, Roller was instrumental in starting the Shelby Senior Services in Shelbyville. Shelby Senior Services is a not-for-profit and a location Roller worked until 1985.
The Rushville resident took a nine-year break to become a wife and parent, before returning to the work place in 1994.
“I took a break when I had my son and was a full-time mom until 1994 before returning to the work force,” Roller said.
Roller’s next employment was as an educator with the Rush County Soil and Water District. During that time and for 11 years, she also taught science education with the Rush County Schools for students Kindergarten through eighth grade.
In 2005, a career change again came and Roller accepted a position with the Community Education collation in Connersville; a position she held for the next four years until accepting the current position with Ivy Tech in 2010.
Teaching and expanding the horizons of individuals of all ages has been a goal for Roller. She sees education as the door to opportunities. Her diverse educational career has prepared her for growing the adult education program locally and making a difference in another generation.
“It’s all about education. Everything I‘ve done has been about education in one form or another, and hopefully it is a process that we never stop. Life-long learning is just that, if we don’t learn we stagnate,” Roller said.
Through the years, Roller has seen a dramatic learning curve in the education process and it is even more dramatic locally as youth, young adults and others strive to keep pace with the demands the fruits an education can provide.
Roller contends that extended learning sites such as Ivy Tech are helping to bridge many gaps although it is closing at a slow rate.
“There are so many more educational opportunities now. We have students as young as 17 and up to 73 currently enrolled. There is formal learning. There are informal learning credit classes, non-credit classes - thanks in large part to the internet,” Roller said.
She continued by saying that Rush County has a low level of post-secondary education. Currently Indiana is ranked 42 out of the 50 states in post-secondary education while Rush County ranks 87th out of the state’s 92 counties in the same category. That said, Roller feels that Rush County is geared for education.
“I really feel if we develop a culture for learning, stress the importance of an education and that after high school there will be further training or degrees, essentially that high school is not the end of the road. Then we will see a shortening of that gap,” the educator said.
She said that the list of opportunities is expanding as one’s education increases.
“Many of the people we see nowadays are or will be the first post-secondary educated individuals in their family. Technology is moving on and I believe people are now realizing they too need to keep pace more than ever,” Roller said.
Roller said that her job, as she sees it, is to help make the transition for those that may have been out of the educational system for a few years to many years.
“I often tell people in my office, that they have already made the most difficult decision about furthering their education, they walked through my door.”
Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.