For our 35th birthday we’re recognizing 35 folks who give kids their heart and sole!

Those thirty five people – including a mayor, a pair of sisters, a warden and various educators – opened their mail expecting bills and junk mail, but instead they had received a special surprise. In honor of our birthday and their dedication to children’s growth and development, they found a new pair of shoes and a $3,500 grant to support their organization or charitable cause!

Carrie Alday

DeKalb County Central United School District
Principal, McKinney-Harrison Elementary
Auburn, IN

Carrie, the principal at Auburn’s McKenney-Harrison Elementary School, encourages teachers to take recess breaks when their students need a break in learning rather than at the sound of a bell.  Her desire to flex, when possible, to meet children’s developmental needs is a standout.


Cynthia Anglin

Athens City Schools
Choir Teacher at Athens Intermediate School
Athens, AL

Ms. Anglin believes that music boosts the development of all children. She helps children and young people bloom through musical experiences at Athens City Schools.


Vanessa Bills

Vanessa Bills

Whitley County Community Foundation
Financial Director and leader of the Whitley County Dazzlers
Columbia City, IN

Vanessa’s volunteer support of the Whitley County Dazzlers cheerleading squad is outstanding. Participating in the Dazzlers builds skills and confidence in girls.


Joan Callison

Joan Callison

Murray Public Library
Librarian
Murray, IA

A senior citizen herself, Joan hasn’t forgotten that children like to socialize and have fun as they read. Through her role at the Murray Public Library Joan hosts reading events that make reading fun.


Jennifer Danic

Jennifer Danic

Steuben County Community Foundation
Executive Director
Angola, IN

As the executive director of the Steuben County Community Foundation Jennifer makes it a priority to nurture a new generation of philanthropic leaders. Her FIST Youth Philanthropy students attend Community Foundation board meetings and sit at the board table with adult members.


Jo Drudge

Jo Drudge

Gaslight Playhouse
Director
Kendallville, IN

Jo has worked with the Gas Light Playhouse for years. She’s well known for getting to know young people on a personal level and then matching their role at the Playhouse with their interests and strengths.


Abby Elliott

Mt. Ayr Community Schools
Teacher and HELP Youth Pod Navigator
Mt. Ayr, IA

A busy young professional and philanthropist, Abby knows that teens need positive role models. She works with Ringgold County’s HELP Youth Pod and offers those teens an outstanding example.


Amy Evans

Amy Evans

Wawasee Community Schools
Teacher at Milford Elementary and Middle School
Milford, IN

A teacher at Milford Elementary and Middle School, Amy is recognized for building strong personal relationships which foster two-way communication and strong trust with students.


Dave Fox

Dave Fox

Gene Stratton-Porter Memorial Society
Site Director
Rome City, IN

Dave’s leadership has transformed the school programming offered by the Gene Stratton Porter Historic site. In the past the site’s programming exposed children to nature—now it introduces them to nature careers.


Troy Gaff

Troy Gaff

Central Noble Community School Corporation
Teacher and community volunteer
Churubusco, IN

Troy encourages values like teamwork and perseverance through his leadership in Churubusco youth baseball leagues.


Melody Glass

Melody Glass

Cole YMCA/Albion Preschool
Teacher
Albion, IN

As the Cole YMCA’s Albion Preschool learned more about what children need to thrive, Melody was faced with a big learning curve.  She embraced the change with relish in order to give children what they need.


Tracy Hall

Tracy Hall

Chariton Community School District
Principal Chariton High School
Chariton, IA

As principal of Chariton High School, Tracy saw that many teens had few career choices. This concern led to the start of career-broadening biomedical classes at Chariton High.


Karie Kirschbaum

Karie Kirschbaum

Gary Cares
Executive Director
Gary, MN

Karie has dedicated her career to youth development. She knows that children and youth need positive things to do with their time and energy. To help all children have access to ice skating in their free time, Karie keeps a supply of different sizes of skates on her unlocked porch.


Sherri Lackey

Westview School Corporation
School Nurse
Topeka, IN

A nurse with the Westview School Corporation, Sherri noticed that some students struggled from lack of friends and support during their freshman year. She started PLUS-- an effort to connect younger students with junior and senior mentors.


Maggie Lindsey

Maggie Lindsey

Community Volunteer
Leon, IN

A citizen volunteer, Maggie supported elementary students who wanted to make improvements to Masonic Park. By helping young people improve their community, Maggie helped a group of students to feel impactful and powerful!


Ben Maples

Ben Maples

Limestone County Schools
Agri-Science Teacher Ardmore High School
Ardmore, AL

Some students just need hands-on experiences in order to learn and thrive. Ben Maples advocates for experiential learning in his agri-science classes in the Limestone County Schools.


Ronnie Marks

Mayor Ronnie Marks

City of Athens, AL
Mayor

Most mayors would be too busy with city business to invest in young people. Mayor Ronnie Marks is the exception to that rule. His Mayor’s Youth Council gives young people experience in civic affairs.


Sean Martin

Sean Martin

Whitley County Jail
Warden
Columbia City, IN

As a warden at the Whitley County Jail, Sean expands his role a bit to focus on ending negative behavior cycles. He’s educating inmates on how to be better parents.


Debrah McDonald

Deborah McDonald

David’s Temple Missionary Baptist Church
Operation Timothy volunteer
Tanner, AL

When Deborah and Geraldine McDonald were young, their parents held high expectations for them and taught them the value of education. Now these sisters are playing the same role for children in their home community of Tanner. Their effort is an after tutoring school program called, “Operation Timothy.”


Geraldine McDonald

Geraldine McDonald

David’s Temple Missionary Baptist Church
Operation Timothy Director
Tanner, AL

When Deborah and Geraldine McDonald were young, their parents held high expectations for them and taught them the value of education. Now these sisters are playing the same role for children in their home community of Tanner. Their effort is an after tutoring school program called, “Operation Timothy.”


Eva Merkel

Eva Merkel

Lakeland School Corporation
Lakeland High School Principal
LaGrange, IN

The principal at Lakeland High School, Eva supports project-based learning—helping teenage students take what they’ve learned in school and apply it to life.


Andrea Michael

Andrea Michael

Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation
Media Center Director at Akron Elementary School
Akron, IN

Andrea is the media center specialist at Akron Elementary School. Her knowledge of elementary-aged students and their developmental needs led her to support after school clubs where children can socialize and build self-esteem.


Richard Miller

Richard Miller

Angola Kid’s League
Director
Angola, IN


Richard’s vision for the Angola Kids League is one of children learning sports and having fun. His focus on values and fundamentals keeps children’s development needs in the forefront.


Terri Newton

Terri Newton

Diagonal Community Preschool
Teacher
Diagonal, IA

Terri cares for students’ emotional needs. When a Diagonal High School student lost a mother to cancer, Terri supported that teen in her revival by planning the fundraising event: Knock Out Breast Cancer!


Mary Niklaus

Mary Niklaus

Norman County West
Elementary Principal
Hendrum, MN

As Norman County West’s elementary principal, Mary keeps up on all things educational—and especially brain research. She goes the extra mile by advocating for policy changes that maximize the impact of new findings.


Tom Ray

Tom Ray

Warsaw Community Schools
Principal of Washington STEM Academy
Warsaw, IN

Tom has a strong belief that children learn best through experiences that have meaning in their life. He leads the Washington STEM Academy with that belief in mind.


Marc Roberg

High Lakes Outdoor Alliance
Volunteer
Afton, IA

Marc and other leaders of the High Lakes Outdoor Alliance know that not all young people are athletes or scholars. By offering students shooting sports, young people have one more positive way to spend their time and a new opportunity build skills.


Arleth Rodriguez

Judy A Morrill Recreation Center
Early Education Teacher
Garrett, IN

Arleth teaches toddlers at the JAM Center in Garrett. While most people believe that toddlers are helpless, Arleth intentionally supports the growth of independence in her young students.


Tammy Schneider

Tammy Schneider

East Noble School Corporation
Cafeteria Worker
Kendallville, IN

Tammy works in the cafeteria at East Noble Middle School. She has noticed that students are humiliated when they can’t afford to pay for their school lunch. Tammy often uses her personal money to help students avoid embarrassment.


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Rob Staley

The Crossing Educational Center
Executive Director
Elkhart, IN

As the founder of The Crossing Educational Center, Rob’s belief is that all teens have a strong need to contribute to their community and have a positive vision for their future. Rob knows that meeting these fundamental needs allows teens to shine!


Greg Sutherland

Graceland University
Director of Affiliate Relations
Lamoni, IA

Greg works in higher education at Graceland University, but he’s learned the importance of quality early childhood education. Now he’s a community champion for children’s development.


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Josh Vargas

Strong Tower Worship Center
Pastor
Ligonier, IN

Children and young people thrive when they have multiple adults who care about them and their well-being. Josh’s work through the Strong Tower Worship Center ensures that every young person has five caring adults in their life.


Daron White

All Star Soccer Academy
Coach
Auburn, IN

Daron works with young athletes through the All Star Soccer Academy. He always seems to remember that youth sports are about developing young people and not winning.


Aaron Wilcoxson

Warsaw
Indiana community volunteer

A young professional, Aaron takes the time to volunteer with KEYS’ young philanthropists. All teens need mentors that they can look up to and emulate as they explore where they’ll go in life.


David Worman

David Worman

Central Noble Community School Corporation
SRO officer
Albion, IN

David is a school resource officer for Central Noble Community Schools. He’s known for building trusting relationships with students and giving them a significant and stable adult in their lives.