New teachers and administrators from La Porte, New Prairie, South Central, Tri-Township, New Durham and La Lumiere schools as well as Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana Tech and Purdue University Northwest gathered and celebrated at the Greater La Porte New Teachers Welcome Luncheon on Thursday morning. The traditional occasion has become a statement piece for teachers as it continues to flourish year after year.
Rita Mrozinski, the president and CEO of the LaPorte Chamber of Commerce highlighted the importance of their relationship with school systems in the area.
“This event has been going on for about ten years now and we like to welcome all the new teachers from the area. We partner a lot--the business community and the schools," Mrozinski said. "Having that partnership with all the schools--one on one-- the businesses really like that. They provide the teachers with goodie bags to make them feel welcome. I think the teachers really enjoy it.”
She also mentioned the newest tradition they started for the year.
“We are taking the new teachers at LaPorte on a bus tour of the schools, because they are scattered all over the city. This is the first year we started that,” Mrozinski said.
Abigail Kneifel, a new teacher at Westfield Elementary school expressed her excitement to begin in a new school system.
“I’m really excited to meet new teachers and administrators around the area outside of my district," Kneifel said. "This event provides extra support, and makes me feel better that there are lots of other teachers going through the same thing as I am.”
The event also presented a “Hero Award” given by Homes for Heroes, and the Workforce Teacher/Student of the Year Award which was sponsored by Duneland Media, a digital marketing agency in La Porte.
Duneland Media networked with La Porte High School english teacher and former Workforce Teacher of the Year award winner, Matt Presley, to establish the student career network website “Hire a Slicer." In fact, Presley’s award funded the website’s start up. It focuses on the relationship between graduated students or seniors with the local business community.
Tim Franke, the president of Duneland Media said, “We partnered with the La Porte Chamber, with Hire a Slicer, and through our partnership with them it has been a good fit.”
Franke noted his sentiment for his support saying, “I think that teachers are the backbone of the community. Any support we can give them certainly is needed. Today is all about appreciation for our teachers.”
A graduate of La Porte High School, Autumn Woodard, won one of the 2018 Workforce Student of the Year Awards, which included a plaque and a $500 check.
“In high school, I was really close with my teachers. They taught me to believe in myself. The teachers around this area actually care, they don’t just do their job and go home,” Woodard said.
The annual luncheon has grown into a haven for new teachers that encourages confidence and reassurance that they have community support. It is important that events such as these exist to assure teachers they are indeed the backbone of our community and, essentially the growth of our world.