The dad of four Sycamore grads and 29 years as Sycamore’s Consulting Psychologist, Gange heads to retirement - and Hawaii
If you have been a student at Sycamore, or are a parent of a student who has gone to Sycamore, you know Dr. Jim Gange. Or if you never ended up attending Sycamore, but had thought about it long enough to come visit, you have probably met Jim Gange.
For 29 years, Gange has been the person who met all the potential students, talked to them, and tested them. He is the one who worked with longtime Director of Admissions, Dr. Susan Karpicke, and has been working with Duane Emery, Sycamore’s Director of Enrollment Management, and his team for the past two years.
But Jim is retiring. He is taking his bike, coffee cups, his dry and wry sense of humor, and his years of service at Sycamore and he’s heading to the Big Island of Hawaii, to live, and to ride the trails there.
Gange had one main goal in mind when he was working with young potential Sycamore students. “I tried to ensure that the evaluation session was a positive and pleasant experience for the child,” Gange says of the time he spends with the student - well more than an hour with each - asking questions and finding out if he or she would benefit from attending Sycamore.
“My role has been to identify children who would enjoy Sycamore's curriculum and benefit from the enhanced academic environment,” he says. “I typically evaluate children at ages 3-5, and provide information to predict how they will fare in middle school.
Though at times an inexact science, Gange certainly found ways to make sure his findings were true to the needs of the school.
“Without access to a crystal ball, I had to keep abreast of the latest empirical findings and used the best available instruments to provide reliable and valid results for the admissions committee to be able to make their decisions.
Gange first came to Sycamore as a parent. He would eventually see four children go through to graduation. The three oldest, Jennifer, Josh, and Andy, began at the Butler University Preschool, the precursor of Sycamore.
It was In 1993 that Karpicke asked if she could start to refer children to him for evaluation. Gange says at that time, Susan was dealing with variability in test reports and having to counsel families out of the school, in part due to invalid test results, what he says had to be “an unpleasant experience for the parents, students, and staff.”
“I tested children at Riley Hospital and later in a clinic in Carmel, and then started at Sycamore. In 2000,” he says. “Susan and Head of School, Nyle Kardatzke, asked if I would have more of a presence at the school. Since then, I have served as a part-time consultant.”
He says all four of his kids benefitted from the Sycamore education. "I think that the most important lasting impact is an early appreciation for learning how to learn. Bright children can often get along without much effort. Sycamore challenges students, within their ability, to foster how to work through challenges and work with others when needed,” he says.
Jennifer (‘93) received a masters degree from Harvard, and now lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children. Josh (‘95) did field research in the Florida Keys for the Audubon Society, and then received a masters degree from Yale in Environmental Management, and a law degree from New York University. He lives with his wife and son in the DC area and works for the US Department of the Interior. Andy (‘97) got his BA from IU and graduated from Vermont Law School. He also obtained a master's degree in alternative dispute resolution and worked in the DC courts. He is married and he and his husband are expecting twins this summer. Ashley (‘99) graduated from California College of the Arts and has a master's in design from Columbia University in New York City. She lives with her husband and two children in Miami and East Hampton, NY. She continues to be an active artist.
With his retirement from Sycamore, Jim will be dividing his time living here in Indianapolis and in Hawaii, where he and his wife have a home. “I will continue working remotely from both locations. I guess I will become a working snowbird,” he says. “I hope to stop in at Sycamore from time to time, but probably not during the winter.”
Those at the school know there is an omnipresent bicycle that sits in the hallway outside Gange’s office. An avid biker, he has spent many days commuting between his home on 79th St. near Spring Mill in addition to his personal summer bike treks. Jim says he will continue to ride into retirement. “I packed my road bike on my first trip to Hawaii after we purchased our residence there.” He says the plan is to do long rides wherever he is, Hawaii or Indiana.
“I either go for a long hike or bike ride most days,” he says of his current routine, where he finds a peacefulness and separateness in the rides. For many years, part of his mileage was the ride to Sycamore. He logs nearly 100 miles per week on his bicycle and says he will keep riding in Hawaii amidst the lushness of the trails of his home on the Big Island. “For the past 12 years, I have gone on a long, solo, multi-day bike trip in Wisconsin. I like the solitude of trail riding through forests.”