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Tri-Towns teacher applies skills to real world.

Knowledge, ability, passion and commitment are four pillars that can be attributed to Louise Philbin's success within and outside of the 5th Wheel Training Institute.

Ed Popkie, 5th wheel's executive director, says Philibin, part owner and educational director, is someone motivated to help people who gets involved locally, regionally and provincially.

As an active member of the Tri-Town & District Chamber of Commerce, Philbin has been director for the past two-and-a-half years. She recently stepped down to focus on the expanding driving school. She is also a director on the Far North East Training Board and was one of the founding members of the board of governors of College Boreal.

Popkie describes her as passionate, because when she involves herself in a project, she gives it 100 per cent.

The development and success of the 5th Wheel Training Institute is an example Philbin's passion and commitment.

"Without Louise being part of the equation, 5th Wheel Training Institute wouldn't exist today," Popkie says. And although Yvan Chartrand (Philbin's husband) was the one who had the idea, "Louise was the one able to research, package and put a system in place" which produced a quality product.

Under the umbrella of transportation and construction, the centre offers courses in transport-truck driving and heavy equipment operations. It also offers specialized and certificate programs related to those markets.

"I feel we have a strong purpose here and it's reflected in everything that we do."

Established in 1985, the private New Liskeard career college grew out of a need for transport truck drivers. But the journey of building the school wasn't an overnight haul. For a while, Philbin worked as a teacher full-time (she taught from Grades 7 and 8 to high school, and to adult upgrading at the college level), raising a young family and supporting her husband's truck driver training business.

Eventually, she left teaching and incorporated her expertise in developing an innovative educational program to meet the growing demands of the trucking and heavy equipment industry.

"I'm much more suited to business," she says. "I love the flexibility and the challenge."

By daring to step out of the mould of conformity perpetuated in an educational system that relies heavily on set policy, Philbin's commitment and fearlessness to move ahead has brought the business to employ over 30 fulltime people who teach, manage, and inspire over 400 students a year.

"Our role here is to help people so they can help themselves," she says. "That is what motivates me and my staff."

The program is designed to provide a solid foundation by preparing students with the necessary certificates required in the workplace, says Philbin. It can be tailor-made to suit the person. That is a key marketing tool for the school.

"(At) the size we are now, we can offer some real flexibility for the individual," she says. "It boils down to making what we do very relevant to the workforce."

Popkie says Philbin is an integral part of the company who saw the opportunity to take advantage of a gap in education and training related to the trade.

Acutely aware the centre is accountable to the students, Philbin makes every effort to ensure students' present and future success. She takes responsibility for curriculum development and evaluation.

Her awareness of different learning styles and abilities is evident in the manner in which the program is delivered and evaluated, without compromising 5th Wheel's high standard.

"We want to stop the language of pass and fail," she says. "There is too much history there for these adults."

By using the term "attained benchmark," she opens channels for a more positive learning experience.

Presently, 5th Wheel is preparing for an expansion in Warwick in southern Ontario. The plan is to replicate their learning institute, while tapping into and increasing a new market.

It is the intention to begin courses in January or February of 2006.


Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:5th Wheel Training Institute
Author:Larmour, Adelle
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2005
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