Sitting with Miles Fettinger at Christo’s Restaurant, a La Porte institution, one could sense he was talking to a major knowledge resource. From woodworking to robotics, research writing to current politics, Fettinger is what Malcolm Gladwell would call “a mage of information.”
Along with an active intelligence, Fettinger’s varied work lends itself to a broad base of knowledge. As media reference librarian for La Porte High School (LPHS), he encourages students to maintain a critical mind for what they’re reading. As a city councilman, he stands up for the facilities students need for learning and growth for public education to be successful.
Fettinger grew up in La Porte, graduating from La Porte High School in 1989. He received his bachelor’s degree in School Media Services from Indiana State University in 1993. Graduate work was completed with a Secondary Education Master's degree from the University of Southern Indiana in 1998. He taught from 1993 to 1998 at McGary Middle School in the Evansville Vanderburg School Corporation, but a fateful summer back home in La Porte shaped Fettinger’s future.
“Ron Clindaniel, high school counselor and city councilman, came to my house while I was out on summer break. He took me to a job interview at my old school that I didn’t expect.”
Returning to LPHS, Fettinger assumed the media specialist position. His other duties eventually included stage manager and co-statistician for the LPHS football team.
“Mark Schreiber (now La Porte Parks and Recreation Superintendent) and I joined together for a 10-year run we’re proud of, including provision of play-by-play coverage for the Slicer games.”
Fettinger considers Clindaniel to be a central mentor in his life, and thought what might have been if he hadn’t intervened.
“One year later, Evansville schools eliminated media specialist positions.”
Clindaniel was also credited for the entry into politics.
“He was a civic leader who inspired me to run for office,” he said.
Asked how a library media person would get involved in a city council, Fettinger answered, “Mayor Lee Morris needed a Democrat for the planning commission. My name had been passed around and I said, ‘yes.’ It was interesting to see the successful business and development efforts, and that helped encourage me to run for city council.”
Newport Landing and its opportunity for business is an encouraging city development for Fettinger.
“Without the facility, no business would be willing to do the necessary land clean up.”
Another favorite project is a potential school that could combine fifth and sixth graders with traditional middle school students. “For example, an advanced fifth grader could enroll in seventh-grade math. I hope that comes into fruition.”
The most important people in Fettinger’s life are family.
“I adore my wife Audra and Colin and Jillian; they’re the center of my life,” he said. “I love my sister Madelyn and brother-in-law Mark, and my older brother Mike has been a mentor and knowledge resource.”
Outside interests include family as well. “Having an eight and 10-year-old keeps me active and at the park all the time. I built a 19-foot mahogany boat with my brother and it’s now sitting on Lake Monroe. I can only visit it.”
Woodworking and furniture making are a passion for Fettinger as well. “I’m building an outdoor table and working the lathe. One more leg to go! I’d love to have my own workshop, but I’d need a bigger house. Right now, I’m the garage wood warrior.”