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Local teachers awarded grants for resiliency by new LMCU program

Rockford — Three Rockford Public Schools teachers were among 25 honored in Michigan and Florida recently for the resilience they have shown in an unprecedented school year. 

The recognitions each came with a $1,000 grant, in a new program called “My Teacher is …” launched by Lake Michigan Credit Union. For the program’s first year, pre-K-12 teachers were nominated for embodying the phrase, “My Teacher is Resilient.” 

Teachers were nominated by students, parents, other teachers, community members or administrators. The response was “overwhelming, and also very heartening,” LMCU said in a press release.

All but one of the first recipients are Michigan teachers, 11 of them from Kent County. They include Rockford teachers Tara Dzirbowicz, Parkside Elementary; Lynda O’Malley, Rockford High School; and Sarah Stevenson, Belmont Elementary.

Two Kentwood teachers were honored: Linsey Dykhouse, Brookwood Elementary, and Bryony Lowe, Crestwood Middle School. Others honored include Angela Sabin, Kent City Elementary; Kara Stevens, Caledonia High School; Grace Stynes, Forest Hills’ Pine Ridge Elementary; and Julie VanderLaan, Byron Center High School. Also recognized were Elizabeth Liebler of Holy Spirit Catholic School and Laura Schmitt of San Juan Diego Academy.

The grant can be used to help teachers purchase classroom supplies, aid in online learning, or “anything else that benefits the educational process.” LMCU said in a statement.

Sarah Stevenson, a first-grade teacher at Belmont Elementary, said she would use her $1,000 grant for grade-level reading books. Noting it’s her initial year of teaching first grade after 12 years of teaching kindergarten, she added, “many of the (grade-) leveled books I inherited are from the 60s … it must be revamped!  My teaching partner is in the same boat, so I am giving her a small part of the winnings for new books as well.  That makes my heart happy.”

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is editor-in-chief of SNN, and covers series and issues stories for all districts. As a reporter for The Grand Rapids Press/mLive from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years and its columnist for 20. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today, Religion News Service and Faith & Leadership magazine. Read Charles' full bio

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