Categories: Press Releases



MICHIGAN CITY, IN —Unity Foundation of La Porte County is pleased to announce the recipients for the 2023-2024 cycle of grants for Michigan City educators. These grants support teachers as they find innovative ways to make learning more engaging for students.

Since the mid-1990s, three grant programs, established by caring Michigan City donors who believed in teachers as the critical factor for learning, have awarded grants to over 1,000 teachers for projects of their own design. This year’s group of recipients is receiving approximately $20,000.

“Unity is honored to facilitate these grant programs that provide for innovative learning opportunities for local students,” said Maggi Spartz, Unity Foundation President.

The Michigan City Education Foundation (MCEF) provides grants for Michigan City public and parochial elementary and middle schools. Teachers may use their grants for hands-on or virtual activities in any academic area or life skills. In 1994 the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, Mary Lou Linnen and Bud and June Ruby founded MCEF to empower educators. This year’s recipients, schools and project titles are:

  • Erica Ackerson, Krueger, Fitnessgram Take 2
  • Shirley Allen, Krueger, African Musical Adventure and Sight Singing is a Superpower
  • Lexa Allison, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Rosie Revere, Engineer Meets Ada Twist, Scientist
  • Kate Bobillo, Notre Dame, Time to Get Moving
  • Britney Bruhler and Kelley Gertner, Lake Hills, Becoming a Scientist!
  • Angela Dydo, Coolspring, Reading Together for Fun!
  • Shari Ann Forker and DeAnna Munoz, Lake Hills, Writing about our World in a Snapshot and Cocoa and Canvas
  • Nicole Groleau, Springfield, Arts and Crafts
  • Katie Haughtington and Annie Madigan, Marsh, Igniting Curiosity!
  • Lisa Hill, Stephanie Jones, Elizabeth Maher, Veronica McFerson, Christina Stavropoulos, Springfield, Multi-Sensory Environment (MSE) at Springfield Elementary
  • Robin Krassow, Knapp, Alternative Seating in the Classroom
  • Elizabeth Law, Lake Hills, Phonics Fun Turned into Wonderful Writing
  • Heather Martin, Knapp, Safety and Daily Essentials for Special Education Classroom
  • Brigid McKee, Notre Dame, Science of Reading
  • Anna Pyke, Edgewood, Young Authors at Work
  • Hannah Scheller, Knapp, Independent Mathematical Centers for Kindergarten
  • Susan Shell, Marsh, Math Simplifies Our Lives and Multiplies Our Opportunities
  • Michelle Sickles and Kristal Chenault, Edgewood, One Well for All
  • Ian Smith-Garcia, Barker, Film & Drama Club at Barker Middle School
  • Sheri Tuesburg and Holly Stanici, Edgewood, Astounding Authors of Various Writing Genres
  • Sheri Wagner, Lake Hills, The Learning Adventure
  • Penny Will, Lake Hills, STEM-tastic Authors!!!

The Barbara A. Carmen Memorial Endowment Fund is dedicated to the memory of Barbara A. Carmen, a former Michigan City kindergarten and first grade teacher in both the public and parochial schools. The Carmen fund makes grants for items that will enrich curriculum or enhance a teacher’s ability to meet student needs. This year’s recipients, schools and project titles are:

  • Britney Bruhler and Kelley Gertner, Lake Hills, Hands on Learning
  • Sara Conn, Notre Dame, “Razzed” Up for Reading
  • Amy Georgitsis, Notre Dame, Living Wax Museum Project
  • Nicole Groleau, Springfield, STEM
  • Sarah Jones, The Ultimate Inclusive Classroom
  • Heather Martin, Knapp, Sensory Needs for K-2 Autism Classroom
  • Theresa Riehm, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Mystery Science
  • Susan Shell, Marsh, You Had Me at the Letter A!
  • Michelle Sickles, Edgewood, Quality Work Wall of Fame
  • Jessica Vesecky, Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Scholastic Magazines
  • Sheri Wagner, Lake Hills, The Science of Reading

The Teacher Innovation Fund for Michigan City Area Schools is a grant program for Michigan City High School and La Porte County Career and Technical Education A.K. Smith Career Center teachers and professionals. It is designed to support educational professionals as they strive to reach their students. MCAS Superintendent Dr. Barbara Eason-Watkins and former Michigan City Mayor Chuck Oberlie provided the idea and the seed money from their own personal funds for this program. Grants can be used to purchase equipment, supplies, tools for special programs or for ideas to enrich curriculum and enhance each professional’s ability to meet his/her students’ needs. This year’s recipients and project titles are:

  • Susan Cleveland, Painted Murals at Michigan City High School
  • Kristen Freitag, Keeping Students “Plugged IN”
  • Mary Gish, One Small Incentive, One Life Changed
  • Adam Goebel, Elevating Chemistry Through Cool Chemistry Experiments
  • Cathy LaFrance, “Allons-y” to the Francophone World!
  • Carlos Melendez, Level Up: Empowering Esports in Education
  • Rachel Pauer, Dual Credit Biology 2: How Impairment Impacts You
  • Trish Tompkins, Gifting to Get Ahead
  • Amy Wojasinski-Labis, Caught Being Kind at MCHS and The Den Closet

The next round of grants for Michigan City educators will open in summer 2024. All La Porte County teachers are eligible to apply for Unity’s “Power for Good” Community Grants. That application period will open in spring 2024. For more information on Unity’s grant programs or to donate visit

Since 1992, Unity Foundation of La Porte County has served donors, nonprofits and local communities. As La Porte County’s community foundation, it manages $41 million in assets, administers more than 350 charitable funds, and has distributed more than $25 million through direct grants and scholarships. Unity Foundation’s mission is to strengthen La Porte County now and forever by building permanent endowments; providing leadership; offering philanthropic vehicles for everyone; and being a catalyst for social and economic vitality. For more information, please visit or call 219-879-0327.

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