The Journal Gazette
Monday, December 16, 2019 1:00 am

Helping kids with disabilities

Ball State senior building wall for Carmel center

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

A Ball State University senior from Monroeville is learning how to help children with disabilities play.

Through an immersive learning course, Madison Castleman is creating an interactive play wall designed to help such children improve skills including coordination and problem-solving, according to a news release.

The college students' work is benefiting Children's TherAplay Foundation in Carmel, which serves children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury and developmental delays, the release said.

“I have had to do a lot of research on autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities and how people who live with them are affected by the world,” Castleman said in a statement. “This knowledge will help me in the future when designing public spaces and how to keep these people in mind so that my designs can be used by all.”

Castleman expects to graduate in May with a degree in interior design.

The sensory wall she is developing will have a sensory gel pad, a mini Plinko game and light-up shapes, the release said.

“When the wall piece is folded down,” Castleman added, “it reveals a table with more sensory activities such as a kinetic sand pit, shoelaces to help with hand motor skills and learning to tie, and a magnetic ball maze.”

The immersive learning course is led by Shireen Kanakri, associate professor of interior design.

“We are specifically designing the pieces that will be used to help treat the children,” Kanakri said in a statement. 

Ivy Tech

• Ivy Tech Warsaw will launch a laptop loan-to-own program this spring through a partnership with Lake City Bank, which donated 10 Dell laptop computers. Current students will be able to borrow a laptop for two weeks and can extend the loan to an entire semester if the laptop is maintained properly. If the student is in good academic standing by the end of the term and has enrolled for the next term's classes, the laptop's ownership can be permanently transferred to the student. Lake City Bank has committed to supplying additional machines as needed.


• The Indiana Association of School Principals named Susan Summers of Homestead High School the 2019 State Assistant Principal of the Year. She was also named District Assistant Principal of District 3, which comprises Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Lagrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.

• Hickory Center Elementary School music teacher Diane Barton is a 2019-20 national LifeChanger of the Year award nominee. Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, the award recognizes K-12 educators and school district employees who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership. Seventeen awards will be given this school year. The grand prize is $10,000 to be shared with the winner's school or district.

Saint Francis

• The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education extended accreditation for two programs at the University of Saint Francis: the baccalaureate program in nursing, 10 years, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, five years.

• Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the University of Saint Francis a $100,000 planning grant. The grant is part of the endowment's new initiative, Charting the Future for Indiana's Colleges and Universities.


• Applications for two opportunities for teachers are due Jan. 31. The Earline S. Rogers Student Teaching Stipend for Minorities is open to minority students – defined as black and Hispanic individuals – who will participate in student teaching or a school administration internship as part of their degree requirements. The Student Teaching Stipend for High-Need Fields is available to students planning to teach in special education or math at either the middle or high school level. Students can receive up to $4,000 per stipend, or $8,000 if awarded both. Go to for details.

• Students pursuing a career in classical music performance or conducting may apply for the Julia L. Atz Scholarship through the Community Foundation of Noble County. Applications are due at 4 p.m. April 30. Go to for details.

• The South Side Optimist Club of Fort Wayne is accepting applications through Jan. 15 for the Optimist International Oratorical Contest. “Just iMagine a World without Boundaries” is the topic. The club's event is set for Feb. 11 at the Allen County Public Library, and winners will have the opportunity to advance to the World Championship at Saint Louis University. Students must be younger than 19 as of Oct. 1, 2019. Email for an application.

• Questa Education Foundation will accept applications for its Questa Scholars Program through March 15. Go to or call 260-407-6494 for more information.


• Trine University raised more than $175,000 on Dec. 3, Giving Tuesday. The support from the 198 donors will contribute to student scholarships, enhanced classroom experiences and state-of-the-art facilities.

Laurel Alberson has joined Trine as director of marketing for TrineOnline. The new position contributes to efforts to build and support the university's online and adult learner population.


• Harrison Elementary School received a $1,000 grant through WNDU and Martin's Super Markets' One School at a Time program. The money will support the school's Boomerang Backpacks, funding 10 books throughout the year for 100 students.

Students and parents who have a favorite teacher can nominate the individual for Teacher Honor Roll. Send nominations to The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email

To submit an item, send a typed release from the school or organization to Education Notebook, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email at least two weeks before the desired publication date.

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