A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Meg McCarel

By: Dyan Leto Last Updated: June 22, 2022

Meg McCarel has let fun lead the way throughout her teaching career and plans to put the fun back into fundraising in her new position at the Duneland Education Foundation.

McCarel considers herself lucky to have grown up in Chesterton. After meeting her husband, they moved around the Midwest, but when her husband got a job in Chicago she knew she wanted to move back to Chesterton. She has been back in Chesterton for 33 years.

McCarel received her teaching degree from Ball State University in special education. After completing her practicum, she knew she had made the right choice. 

“In special education, you get the good and the bad, because they're struggling with the fact that they're not doing as well as other students. So they come to you for support as well as education. They are trying to figure out why they're different or how they're different. So there was a lot of communicating,” McCarel said.

McCarel explained how she helped her students overcome the stigma of going to the resource room by making her classroom the classroom everyone wanted to visit. 

“Because kids struggle with having to go see the resource teacher, I tried to make my classroom the most fun class in the building. So everybody wanted to go there,” McCarel said. “And I would say, 'only if you're lucky. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.'”

In her classroom, there was a wheel of fun and spelling including jumping jacks. She explained that anything she could do to get students up and moving made the classroom more fun and their test scores go up. Even during the pandemic, McCarel found ways to make virtual classes fun by sending students home with games that they could play during their zoom class.

Now after 30 years of teaching special education throughout Porter County, she has chosen to retire. 

McCarel shares what she will miss most about teaching

“It's the sense of humor of the kids and the connection that we have," she said. "I will miss the relationships. You know, when you teach special ed, you get four or five years with a student and their family. So you build that relationship and it's incredible.”

McCarel isn’t completely retiring though. In February, she started the part-time position of Executive Director of the Duneland Education Foundation. There she will still be helping students and teachers in the Duneland area.

“So I'm relatively new to the job, but it's going to be fun for me. It's event planning and fundraising and I'm looking forward to that. What I love to do is have fundraisers that are fun. When you see the impact of what you're doing, and you've made it fun. That's just a bonus,” McCarel said. “The Duneland Education Foundation provides grants for teachers who need some kind of extra project for their classroom. They provide a $10,000 scholarship every year. I think it's an incredible organization, but not every single teacher knows about it. I think that my mission will be to bring it to the front page.”