Submitted by Eaton RESA

(Photo provided)


The Eaton Regional Education Services Agency and the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Eaton County honored six Champions for Children, presenting them with awards during a ceremony to recognize their commitment to helping children in Eaton County.
Award winners represent a variety of organizations and work with children in different capacities including as teachers, coaches, foster care workers, volunteers and advocates. Each year, the Champions for Children honorees are added to a plaque displayed at the Eaton County Courthouse. This year’s Champions for Children are:
Wayne Dismuke, football coach, Eaton Rapids High School
A former assistant football coach, Wayne Dismuke stepped up to lead the Eaton Rapids varsity football team when the head coach departed in the middle of the season. Leading the team through the rest of the season, he accepted the head coaching job and, according to his nominator Erin Sharp, has “totally changed the vibe” of the football program at Eaton Rapids, from the youth program to the varsity team. “The program here has shifted, and for the better,” said Sharp. “Without Coach Wayne, who knows where we would be.”
Dan Korte, Cubmaster, Cub Scout Pack 645/657 in Grand Ledge
Known for committing countless hours with enthusiasm, hard work and creativity, Dan Korte is a dedicated leader to Cub Scout Pack 645/657. As Cubmaster, he coordinates and runs amazing Cub Scout pack and den meetings, organizes field trips and camp outs, and leads community service projects and awards ceremonies for boys and girls in grades K-5.
Korte was nominated by Heather Algrim who said, “Through this work, he acts as a wonderful role model to both the youth and their parents as a true servant to community betterment.”
Stephanie Leatherman, Foster Care Worker, Eaton County
Receiving two nominations, Stephanie Leatherman is a foster care worker who has spent countless hours working late, and sometimes overnight, to ensure Eaton County children are safe. Stephanie is a champion for children and has worked tirelessly to find placements for children, including for two teenage siblings who were recently placed together in a fictive kin placement.
Her nominators, Shelley Mercer and Stephanie Rose, said she, “shines when others would have given up.”
Tamily (Tami) Nixon, Functional Independence Program Teacher, Charlotte High School
Tami’s program at Charlotte High School helps students thrive as she provides not only academic needs, but community-based instruction and interaction with other organizations, to help her students grow and learn.
In addition to her work with students, she coordinates the district’s involvement with Special Olympics and excels as a mentor for new teachers, especially to those who teach students with Independent Education Plans.
Her nominator, Gretchen McClellan-VanArsdale, said she is, “a wonderful educator and person, and Charlotte is the better for her!”
Mark O’Neill, Volunteer, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children
Mark O’Neill has been a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer since 2017, helping to advocate for a youth in the care of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He has provided stability and consistency to a child during this time who has had several case worker, placement, and therapist changes. Through all of this, he has diligently continued to meet with this child every week and advocate for him.
Raquel Brace, who nominated O’Neill, said, “I am so impressed and inspired by his dedication and commitment to this child, and can’t imagine where the child would be today if it weren’t for Mark and his advocacy for him. “
Marlene Promer, Begindergarten Teacher, Holbrook Elementary, Grand Ledge
A longtime teacher in Grand Ledge Public Schools, Marlene Promer goes above and beyond both in and out of the classroom. She is committed to her students and often attends students’ extra-curricular events, graduations and activities. She also volunteers in many community programs and agencies.
Her nominator, Dr. Bill Albrecht said, “Marlene gives countless hours outside of school, and has done so for her entire tenure in the district, to students, both past and present, and their families.”
Nomination forms for the 2023 Champions for Children are available now.