2018 Educator Grant Awards


With the support of our business partners, the Dearborn County Retired Teachers Foundation was able to award eleven grants this year to benefit the students and teachers of Dearborn County, IN.  Applications for the upcoming year are available at the local schools in January or online.  A listing of the award winners, projects’ names, schools, and financial supporters is listed on the website’s Educator Grant Award Winners page.


Media Specialists Honored


Media Specialists and their support staff were invited to a reception at the Lawrenceburg Public Library, where they were honored for the work they do with the students in Dearborn County schools.  Former East Central High School Media Specialist Shirley Bocock gave a short talk in appreciation of the work that the media specialists do with the students.   The Foundation then surprised the media specialists with a $500 grant to each of the respective schools for projects which they would like to do but have not yet found the funding for.  Mary Bradley presented certificates to the media specialists and para-professionals at Lawrenceburg; Dave Record presented certificates to the media specialist and library supervisors in the Sunman-Dearborn School Corporation; and Jim Pierce presented certificates to the media specialists and para-professionals in the South Dearborn Schools.  A luncheon followed the presentations.





The Dearborn County Retired Teachers, United Community Bank, and the Betty McLaughlin Educator Grant/Award awarded South Dearborn Middle School teacher Randy Dennis two $500 grants to fund his A-Z Books of the Civil War.  Funding of this project would not have been possible without the support of the McLaughlin family.  They share a lifelong commitment to philanthropy because of the example set by former teacher and their mother Betty McLaughlin.


With the help of technology, students design their personal A-Z Civil War book on-line but then their work is printed in a full color book with the student’s picture and biography on the back cover.  Students choose their own entries of persons, places, and things in the American Civil War.  Once printed, the book is theirs to keep for years to come.  Excitement about the project grows each year as in-coming eighth graders ask if they too can write a book.


Dennis has been an educator at South Dearborn Middle School for the last fifteen years where he has taught U.S. history and geography to seventh and eighth graders.   One of the school’s instructional leaders, Dennis received her undergraduate education from Indiana University in Bloomington and his  Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of St. Mary.  In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dennis has coached or sponsored football, basketball, National Junior Honor Society, and the school’s Academic Team.


Dennis has previously been recognized by the Dearborn County Retired Teachers in 2010-2011 for his Hands-on Interactive Social Studies lessons.

The Educator Grant-Award applications are available in January to any teacher in a public or parochial school in Dearborn County.  The retired teachers seek to encourage innovative and creative teaching in the classroom.

DCRTA and McLaughlin Award Winner



Left to right: Mike McLaughlin, Randy Dennis (Award Winner), Beth (McLaughlin) Hedrick, E.G. McLaughlin




The Dearborn County Retired Teachers, with the help of some very loyal business sponsors recently were able to award three Educator Grant/Awards.

Duke Energy funded Heather Lunsford's wobble stool request for fifth grade students at Sunman Elementary.  According to Lunsford, wobble stools allow students to stay seated during instruction but also move around to get energy out.  Alternative seating allows students to better focus on the task at hand; they are, therefore, less disruptive in the classroom because they have the ability to move.  Some students have the sensory need to move. The stools help to control fidgeting. With less and less time given to recess, more seat time is required of these young people. The wobble stools allow for some movement in a contained setting.


Valley Rural Utility Company of Hidden Valley sponsored Fizz Ed: PE for Generation Z. The award was presented to Terri Schmeltzer, Principal at St. John Evangelical Lutheran School in Aurora.  According to the application, multiple studies have been done to suggest that immediate and constant access to technology has negatively affected today's youth physically.  Post-millennial students are more comfortable competing with video games than with traditional physical education games.  The number of students avoiding physical exertion is dramatically increasing.  As this trend continues, the percentage of students who have reduced strength and flexibility because of lack of physical activity is ever increasing. Cooperation and teamwork will be learned through physical movement.


The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Foundation award was given to Barb Katenkamp, second grade teacher at North Dearborn Elementary. As the emphasis is now of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), new science standards require students to solve simple problems by constructing new or improved tools or objects.  STEM kits will help the students to think creatively, to problem-solve, and to engage in hands-on science projects.

The Dearborn County Retired Teachers promote innovative and creative learning in the classroom.



Left to right: Chip Orben (Duke Energy), Heather Lundsford (Award Winner), Dave Records (Presenter)





Terri Schmeltzer (Award Winner) Mary Bradley (Presenter)





Barbara Katenkamp (Award Winner)  Betty Bourquein (Presenter)



The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Association and the Knights of Columbus granted Susan Schmuelling, teacher at St. Lawrence Elementary School, an Educator Grant/Award to build a second VEX IQ Robotics Team. The award was presented by Jim Pierce and Jim Hamill.


Currently St. Lawrence Elementary has one team which has competed Indianapolis.  With the additional funding, the school will be able to purchase the necessary equipment to build game pieces for the field, to pay the competition fees, and possibly to design and print a team shirt.


The Robotic team organizes the supplies, builds and modifies the robot, and keeps a robotic journal. Students learn how to construct a robot which coordinates with a hand-held controller with programmable possibilities.  With two teams from St. Lawrence and the necessary equipment, twice as many students will be involved in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) education.




Jim Hamill (Co-presenter)  Susan Schmuelling (Award Winner)  Jim Pierce (Co-presenter)