Her passion for children recognized

November 27, 2018 GMT

MICHIGAN CITY — A Michigan City woman who works to improve the lives of local children has been nominated for one of the top honors in the state, but she gives much of the credit to co-workers and the community.

Abagael “Abby” May, developmental manager for Safe Harbor, has been named one of eight finalists for the D. Susan Wisely Indiana Youth Worker of the Year award by the Indiana Youth Institute.

Finalists were selected based on their “ongoing dedication and commitment to serve Indiana youth,” a statement from IYI said.

“Being named one of eight finalists from across Indiana is a huge honor,” said Kate Healey Snedeker, spokeswoman for the IYI. “The award honors one exceptional youth worker’s service and commitment to help improve the futures of Hoosier children.”


May doesn’t think any one person deserves all the credit.

“I think that I am fortunate enough to work with people who were thoughtful enough to nominate me ... and to have community partners who are selfless enough to give of their time to write the letters of recommendation the nomination required.

“I am fortunate enough to have a former student who has grown to be articulate and reflective who was willing to write on my behalf ... I suppose what warrants this award is having nurtured the relationships I am fortunate to have, acknowledging the talents of the people around me, and maintaining the grit necessary to work in youth development.”

And “to work with a team of people that I learn and grow from, which is an invaluable gift,” May said.

Safe Harbor provides programming for students in Michigan City Area Schools with afterschool programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels, as well as preschool and enrichment programs.

May serves a multi-purpose role.

“Safe Harbor is a grant funded, out-of-school-time enrichment program, that provides top-tier educational and cultural opportunities at an affordable cost,” she said.

“I oversee the organization’s programming, scheduling, marketing, community engagement, and am a part of our grant-writing team. My goal is to ensure that our programming is progressive, that our objectives are measurable, and that our efforts are in line with Michigan City Area School’s strategic planning.”

As a 21st Century Community Learning Center, she said, Safe Harbor “designs our enrichment programming to incorporate our community partners, college and career readiness opportunities, family engagement, and social emotional development opportunities.”


It’s something she is passionate about.

“Students deserve a learning environment that is inclusive, holistic, engaging, and culturally responsive.” she said. “As afterschool professionals, we have the sacred opportunity and obligation to help young people see themselves and each other as powerful contributors to the world around them.”

The work is rewarding, May said.

“It is hard to pick one aspect of my job as being the best or my favorite. Safe Harbor offers me the opportunity to be creative, to recognize a need and develop a solution.

“Being able to develop systems, programming and strategy that benefits students, families and the community is the best part of my job,” she said. “It is exhilarating and fulfilling.”

It’s a new field with big potential, she said.

“The field of afterschool and out-of-school-time education is a relatively young field which is growing and thriving. It is exciting to be a part of that.”

The D. Susan Wisely award is named for the retired director of evaluation at Lilly Endowment, according to IYI. She oversaw development of numerous youth service-related programs, such as the Lilly Fellows Program, which established many policies and organizations aimed at improving the quality of life for Hoosier children, including the IYI.

The winner will be announced at the annual Kids Count Conference in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

Through the various Safe Harbor programs, May said, “We can empower all students, both academically and socially, to identify and celebrate their strengths; challenge themselves; and achieve both short-term and long-term goals.

“I hope that my work in afterschool builds a generation of passionate citizens who are confident in their abilities and dedicated to their wider communities.”


Elementary After School Enrichment

• 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday

• Knapp, Edgewood, Joy, Lake Hills, Marsh and Coolspring elementaries

• $20 per month per student

Elementary Before School Care

• 6-8:30 a.m. Monday- Friday

• Knapp, Edgewood, Joy, Lake Hills, Marsh

• $2 per hour per child (financial assistance available)

Middle School Club Discovery

• 2:15-5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday

• Barker and Krueger middle schools

• $5 per year per student

High School Club Inspire

• 2:15-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday

• Michigan City High School

• $5 per year per student

Enrichment Opportunities

• Music, art and dance with Lubeznik Center for the Arts

• SPARK Recreation

• Homework assistance, credit recovery and tutoring

• Robotics, horticulture and cooking

• Crafts and creative writing

• College and career readiness, and field trips

For more info

• Sherri Silcox, 219-873-2026, Ext. 8740, or ssilcox@educatemc.net or

• Heather Wright, 219-873-2026, Ext. 8749, or hwright@educatemc.net