Indra Transitional Learning Center

This article was originally published in the Grand Island Senior High "Islander," on September 17, 2004.
By Betsey Stehlik

It has been said that “some individuals dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.”

Mary Ann Indra never saw her dream come true.  She never married or had children, but she had her students.  As a passionate Special Education teacher, Indra’s students were her life.  It is no surprise that when she passed away, she continued her life-long legacy by continuing to help them.  Indra’s parents, Orville and Catherine, honored her love for charity and donated Mary Ann’s estate to the Grand Island Education Foundation.  In turn, school leaders set their minds on making Indra’s dream a reality.

After several years of raising money at Senior High’s Hula’s Store -- and the generous donation from Indra-- the school purchased a lot on the east side of the school. It is here where dreams came true.

Mrs. Patty Galbraith, a Special Education teacher and participant in the Indra House project, hopes to show the community during the Indra House dedication ceremony how important the house really is.

“The Indra House helps Special Education students transition life skills from the classroom to real life,” Galbraith said.  “The house has classrooms in it, but our students are continually out on job sites and working within the community.”

The Indra House was designed by Alan Cook’s senior drafting class, built by Mark Brei’s construction technology classes, and decorated by Karen Kropp’s Family Consumer Science classes.  “It’s built by students for students,” said Galbraith. “And that’s like nothing else in the state.  Nobody’s got anything as special as this.”

As Mrs. Galbraith was giving me a generous tour of the house, she introduced me to Marcy Bogan, another Special Education teacher and Indra House worker.  “As you can see,” she said, quite out of breath, “we’re madly getting ready for the ceremony on Monday.”

The dedication ceremony began at 2 pm on Monday, September 13.  The program features an oil portrait of Mrs. Indra that was painted by Galbraith’s husband, Harry.  Grand Island Mayor Jay Vavricek and Mary Ann Indra’s family were in attendance.  Senior High Principal Dr. Kent Mann also spoke at the ceremony.

“The Indra project is very unique,” Mann said.  “Students designed and planned it, built it, and students learn in it as well.”

The students who attend class at the Indra House range from middle school age to a 19-21 “Transitional Living” class.  Here, students learn skills like cooking their own meals, washing clothes, making the bed, and vacuuming.  They also learn life skills such as golfing.  The students also learn discipline when going to work.  “The basement of the Indra House is like a job site for the students,” Galbraith said. “Here, they make and sell the gift bags that you see at Hula’s.  They know that when it’s time to go to work, they go to the basement."

The “workplace” comes complete with two supervisor offices and a break room.  “The students make and pack their own lunches to bring to work,” said Galbraith.  “They learn responsibility and discipline by getting to work on time and taking care of what they bring to work.”

Among many things, the Indra House has promise.  Promise for the future, promise for the students, but most of all, the Indra House is keeping its promise.  The hardworking students, teachers, and administrators have built a house worthy of Mary Ann Indra’s gracious legacy.  The Indra House is, in reality, a dream come true.