Categories: Press Releases



Unity Foundation Awards $15,000 to Michigan City Area Teachers

MICHIGAN CITY, IN —Unity Foundation of La Porte County is pleased to announce the recipients for the 2022‐2023 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 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 $15,000.

“Our local schools are full of exceptional teachers who go above and beyond for their students. Unity is honored to facilitate these grant programs that provide for additional learning opportunities for local students,” said Shannon Walker, Unity Foundation Vice President.

The Michigan City Education Foundation 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. MCEF was founded in 1994 when the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, Mary Lou Linnen and Bud and June Ruby came together to empower teachers. This year’s recipients, schools and project titles are:

  • Arielle Smith, Barker Middle School, Kindness Project
  • Elizabeth Camel, Coolspring Elementary School, Keys to Creativity
  • Angela Dydo, Coolspring Elementary School, It All Works Out—A Math Project
  • Ashlyn Palmer, Edgewood Elementary, Bookflix
  • Michelle Sickles, Edgewood Elementary, We Are Crew Sheri Tuesburg and Holly Stanisci, Edgewood Elementary, Voracious Readers and Astonishing Authors
  • Hannah Scheller, Knapp Elementary, Reading/Writing Independent Centers
  • Erica Ackerson, Krueger Middle School, Net Worth
  • Kelly Tokoly‐Rothermel, Krueger Middle School, Scents‐sational Art Sensory Sketchbooks
  • Elizabeth Law, Lake Hills Elementary, Phonics Fun
  • Susan Shell, Marsh Elementary, We are Better Together
  • Kate Bobillo, Notre Dame Catholic School, Kitchen is Open
  • Joanna Cate, Notre Dame Catholic School, Community Through Play
  • Brigid McKee, Notre Dame Catholic School, Flexible Seating
  • Lexa Allison, Saint Paul Lutheran School, Vive La Difference
  • Stephanie Jones, Springfield Elementary, Using play to prepare for the motor skills needed for Kindergarten
  • Erin Ledyard, Springfield Elementary, Clay Therapy
  • Amanda Wallen, Sharon Arndt and Megan Orlando, Pine Elementary, Boogieing Our Day Away: Funding assistance for this project was also provided by the Debbie New Paholski Foundation.

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:

  • Erin Colvin, Barker Middle School, Creating Passionate Readers
  • Holly Zborowski, Coolspring Elementary School, Healthy Me
  • Laurie Rockensuess, Edgewood Elementary, Ukulele Project
  • Leanna Smith, Edgewood Elementary, K is for Kindergarten
  • Ryan Labis, Krueger Middle School, Get Fit, Get Ready, Get Happy
  • Ashley Brown, Marsh Elementary, Mr. Popper’s Penguins Pop into Marsh
  • Christina Schultz and Sara Conn, Notre Dame Catholic School, Centered on Fun and Learning
  • Sara Rathbun, Notre Dame Catholic School, Novel Study Sets
  • Nicole Groleau, Springfield Elementary, Sensory Toys

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, schools and
project titles are:

  • Susan Cleveland, MCHS, Mosaic Murals
  • Lynne Clinkert, MCHS, It’s all fun and games
  • Candy Feare, MCHS, Get Moving! Get Motivated! Get Physically Active!
  • Kristen Freitag, MCHS, Comfort in the Classroom
  • Adam Goebel, MCHS, Elementary Science—This award is supported by the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce in memory of A.K. Smith graduate and long time Horizon Bank employee, Joe Mellen.
  • Rachel Pauer, MCHS, Dual Credit Biology 2: Learning About You
  • Cheri Whitler, MCHS, Cut it Out!
  • Amy Wojasinski‐Labis, MCHS, Celebrations though Wolfpack
  • Ashley Zahrt, MCHS, Digital Microscopy
  • Robert Schaffer, A.K. Smith, Dress for Success ‐ Fire Science Student Uniforms

The next round of grants for Michigan City Teachers will open in summer 2023. All La Porte County teachers are eligible to apply for Unity’s Community “Power for Good” Grants. That application period will open in late spring 2023. For more information on Unity’s grant programs or to donate visit

About Unity Foundation

Since 1992, Unity Foundation of La Porte County has served donors, nonprofits and local communities. As La Porte County’s community foundation, it manages over $40 million in assets, administers more than 325 charitable funds, and has distributed more than $22 million through direct grants and scholarships. The Council on Foundations has deemed Unity Foundation in
compliance with all Indiana and national ethical and operating standards for community foundations. 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.

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