Ken Woodruff Scholarship Fund

Continuing a Legacy

The Ken Woodruff Scholarship Fund commemorates a lifelong commitment to helping people. Ken was the founder of Portage Adult Education, NEO’s predecessor. It was his pioneering spirit that created the network of adult education services that exist today in Northwest Indiana. His belief that it was never too late for inspired teachers and students to reach for the very best in themselves. That belief was the spirit behind his motto, “You Can.” Ken left behind a legacy comprised of thousands of people whose lives were improved because of his belief and tireless dedication to adult education. The Ken Woodruff Scholarship Fund honors his life’s work by providing assistance to students who could not otherwise afford the fees associated with the HSE test. Donations can be made by sending check or money order to Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities. Make your check payable to NEO and send the check to: NEO New Vistas HS and Adult Education 5201 U.S. Highway 6 Portage, IN 46368 All donations directly help students with High School Equivalency (HSE) test preparation and testing fees.

About Ken Woodruff

He is considered by many a pioneer in the field of adult education. In 1962 when the state of Indiana sent

out a call for school corporations to provide educational opportunities for adults who did not have a high

school diploma, Ken helped Portage Township Schools answer that call.

As the first director of adult education, Ken began a program that offered a few night classes for high school diploma completion. By 1970, Ken opened the first adult learning center to to provide GED instruction. In the mid-1970’s Ken hired a young woman named Linda O’Brien as the first adult learning center teacher. A few years later, Portage Adult Education opened the GED Testing center and other community based learning centers. Together Ken Woodruff and Linda O’Brien (Friedrich) created an adult education program that spanned six counties in northwest Indiana. The program offered an adult high school and provided learning centers in Portage as well as community based learning centers in 24 locations throughout the six-county area. Each year the program served 2500 students and 500 high school and GED graduates.

During the 48 years the program was in operation, thousands of people were able to complete high school or earn a GED diploma. His dedication and passion for helping others changed many lives. Ken received many awards and honors for his dedication to education and literacy at the state and local level, among them Indianapolis Star “Jefferson Award” for community service and the Outstanding Adult Educator in Indiana, both in 1978, Porter County Youth Service Bureau Award, 1982, I.U. School of Education Outstanding Alumni Award, 1991.