March 2, 2018

Sometimes high school doesn’t go as planned. In those cases when it doesn’t, there are other opportunities and support available at Kishwaukee College to set life back in motion and on a different track. The Adult Education department and the Kishwaukee College Foundation offered Gabriele Munch the preparation and financial support she needed to find a path to success.

Gabriele found high school to be a challenge, socially and emotionally, from the beginning. “I tried home schooling during my freshman year,” she explained. “When I went to high school sophomore year, I struggled and failed some classes and then fell behind.”
Gabriele had the academic skills necessary to succeed but found herself lost in large classrooms. She struggled to find her place in the social hierarchy of high school. When a personal tragedy involving a friend occurred, she missed enough school that she found herself nearly 16 credits behind in her senior year. “I just dropped out at that point,” she stated.

A voracious reader with a curious mind, Gabriele knew she wanted to complete her education. Her family suggested she enroll in a GED/High School Equivalency preparation class offered through Kish’s Adult Education department and then take the exams.

Her prep class instructors, Patti Wragg and Suzanne Meerman, found an eager student who had the motivation to learn everything she could. Determined, Gabriele passed all the GED/HSE exams in a single semester, something that is very difficult to complete. “I discovered I really had learned more in high school than I thought. And the class was small so I received a lot of personal attention from Patti and Suzanne and that helped me focus,” Gabriele said.

Wanting to continue her education by enrolling in a Dental Assisting Program at Kish, Gabriele found assistance from the Kishwaukee College Foundation, specifically the George E. and Betty B. Dutton Memorial Fund. George Dutton Jr. and his wife Betty Dutton played an important role in the city of Sycamore and DeKalb County in the second half of the 20th century. Their son, Jim, was chairman of the board of NB&T until the sale to First Midwest Bank in 2015. Although he now lives out of state, Jim remains actively interested in the local area.

The Dutton Memorial Fund has supported Kish College GED/HSE students since 1999. The Fund assists with paying for the GED/HSE exams and also supports students who complete the exams and then continue their education at Kish. Gabriele received $500 from the Dutton Fund and an additional $625 from First National Bank Scholarship for Non-Credit/Short-Term Training Programs. The generosity of the two programs, both administered by the Kishwaukee College Foundation, meant she only paid $75 for the program.

“I had a lot of dental work done in my life and knew a friend in a Dental Assisting Program so I felt like this was a good career path for me,” she said. “And I really enjoy the class. I am looking forward to completing it and working in the field.”

To show gratitude for the Dutton Family’s history of financial support, the Kishwaukee College Foundation named the College’s Financial Aid Office suite “The George and Betty Dutton Financial Aid Office” in 2012. Jim Dutton visited campus that winter to see the offices that now bear his family name. He stated, “My parents saw the GED program as an opportunity to assist students who may otherwise not be able to take advantage of the offerings being made available through the College. It struck a nerve for them, I think. It feels good to know the funds go to a good cause and helps people better their education.”

As a recipient of the Dutton’s far-sighted generosity, Gabriele Munch wholeheartedly agrees.

For more information on the Adult Education department, contact Jaime Schrader at;  for more information on the Kishwaukee College Foundation, contact Christine Kyler at

December 8, 2017

Kishwaukee College and Opportunity House, Inc. have forged a successful partnership in the creation and implementation of the Learning for Life program. Now, the Kishwaukee College Foundation is asking interested persons to join the partnership on behalf of this worthy program.

Each year, clients of Opportunity House and other adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the opportunity to enroll in academic-based coursework as part of the Learning for Life Program. The program began in 2009 to fill the need for educational opportunities for adult individuals who have left the public education system. Learning for Life fulfills this need by providing challenging activities in an array of traditional academic subjects (e.g., history, science, and art). The program also introduces additional special topics of interest to participating clients (e.g., transportation, geography, and gardening). All units integrate readings, activities, field trips, and homework.

Through the Learning for Life program, clients experience intellectually challenging materials that motivate and engage their interest and curiosity while improving communication and social skills.

Additional funding is needed to support the program as it grows. The Douglas C. and Lynn M. Roberts Family Foundation has generously created an endowment fund to open this giving opportunity.

Prospective donors are welcome. For more information, please contact Bill Nicklas, Executive Director of the Kishwaukee College Foundation, at

Opportunity House, Inc., located in Sycamore and serving DeKalb County, assists people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to work, live in homes of their choice, and enjoy community life. For more information on Opportunity House, visit

Pictured are Learning for Life II students at a graduation ceremony held at Kishwaukee College in November, L to R, Kerry Bonney, Alice Craig and Learning for Life instructor, Carla Raynor.


Categories: Foundation