Local teachers receive grants for special projects

By: Maria Allard | Metro | Published February 18, 2024

 Angela Oliver’s second grade students at Roose Elementary School try out the flexible seating purchased with the $725 Center Line Public Schools Educational Foundation grant.

Angela Oliver’s second grade students at Roose Elementary School try out the flexible seating purchased with the $725 Center Line Public Schools Educational Foundation grant.

Photo provided


METRO DETROIT — Several local teachers will be able to offer more educational opportunities to their students after receiving grant money.

On Feb. 9, Extra Credit Union issued a news release announcing the distribution of 10 grants. On the same day, the Center Line Public Schools Educational Foundation announced the distribution of 11 grants.


Extra Credit Union
The following educators and schools received grants:

• Marlana Jones and Brandy Rokicki, at Barnes Early Childhood Center: $1,318 to start a therapy dog program.

• Stacie Smith-Duenow, at Carleton Middle School: $1,500 to purchase materials needed for 3D art and ceramics.

• Kathryn VanGorder and Bessie Tasios, at Fitzgerald High School: $440 for a Chinese-related field trip activity.

• Kimberly Winiarski, at Tau Beta School in Hamtramck: $1,000 to help fund their snowboard outreach program.

• Erika Gadoury, at Willow Woods Elementary School: $750 to help fund school assemblies at the school that help build student character.

• Mindy Harchuk, at Endeavor Elementary School: $800 to purchase flexible seating for fifth graders.

• Ann Clark, Marge Racine and Gina Asaro, at Warren Consolidated Schools: $500 for Blessings in a Backpack, to purchase two carts to help transport food on packing days.

• Annette Lauria, at St. Anne Catholic Grade School/Junior High: $500 to get signs and materials as well as student rewards to kick off their Positive Behavior Interventions & Support Program (PBIS.)

• Lyle Dixon, at Chatterton Middle School: $2,000 to help fund items needed for CMS Video Game Club Explosion.

• Carolyn Short and Madilyn Wasikowski, at Memphis Elementary School: $1,200 to fund items needed to create Engaging Workspaces for third graders.

“We know that school budgets don’t often have much wiggle room for the ‘extras’ teachers and schools would like to enhance their lessons and learning environments,” ECU Vice President of Marketing Ruthann Varosi said. “We are happy to be able to support these initiatives year after year and help to fill in the gaps. Many of these recipients go the ‘extra’ mile with out-of-the-box ways to reach all different types of learners, and we want to help them get there whether we are providing simple supplies or funding for a field trip.”

Grant recipients will be honored in June at Extra Credit Union’s annual Excellence Awards.


CLPS Educational Foundation
The Center Line Public Schools Educational Foundation, which raises money to provide grants to teachers to fund projects or programs not covered in the district’s budget, recently distributed 11 grants.

“Each year, the foundation offers a grant window inviting requests from teachers (individuals or teams) that identify new ways to augment instruction and strengthen student engagement beyond what the budget allows,” CLPSEF Chair Janis Byrn said in a prepared statement. Money available in the grant window is generated by CLPSEF fundraising and an additional grant from the Allandt Foundation.

The following teachers received grant money:

• Jennifer Haugh, nutrition teacher at Center Line High School: $3,000 to replenish kitchen equipment so students can learn to make healthy, tasty meals in class.

• Peggy Malaski, early childhood special education teacher: $3,790 for the “Crash into Learning” program, to meet the sensory needs of 3-5-year-olds with special needs. The crash/ball pit provides relief from sensory distractions, improves self-regulation, relieves stress, relaxes students and decreases negative behaviors.

• Jason Ratkowski, Academy 21 science teacher/mentor: $2,000 for field trips to landfills, botanical gardens, conservancies and other spots.

• Isaac Culos, Peck Elementary second grade teacher: $112 for “Time for Kids” magazine for students to practice note taking, conduct interviews, learn fact checking and other skills to prepare them to write a research article in a magazine format.

• Laurie Panfalone, Center Line High School speech pathologist: $200 for a “Self-Regulation Station” that will add an egg chair, which swings back and forth and safely spins so students can calm themselves when needed.

• Angela Oliver, Roose Elementary second grade teacher: $725 to be used to implement flexible seating to accommodate students with ADHD and those who benefit from sensory input during instruction time.

• Olivia Culos, Peck Elementary first grade teacher: $609 to purchase carpeting so each student has a leaf to sit on for morning meetings, whole group instruction and collaborative learning. Clipboards and chairbands also were purchased.

• Alex Pauls, Roose Elementary second grade teacher: $518 to buy furniture that offers seating options for students who have a difficult time sitting still. Pauls, Oliver and Lori Matz also received $5,124 to purchase books at different reading levels that align with the state standards.

• Center Line High School Assistant Principal John Grob and counselor Zach Osborne: $6,785 for the Center Line High School eSports Club. Esports, short for electronic sports, is a form of competition using video games. Students learn to collaborate, communicate, use critical thinking and make split second decisions that impact the competition.

• Alicia LaBelle, Roose Elementary first grade teacher: $1,388 “Making Nonfiction Fun.” The grant will provide nonfiction books at lower reading levels designed for younger students.