Possibilities in Action Partners

Congratulations to educators from around the country who have been selected as an Outstanding Possibilities in Action Partners. Sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the "Possibilities in Action" Partners Program seeks to help school psychologists promote children’s success in school and life. Specifically we seek to highlight the importance of meeting the needs of the whole child and improve collaboration by honoring individual members within the school community who, either through their own efforts or by encouraging the efforts of others, make an exceptional difference in the education, development, and overall well-being of students and their families.

Name: Communities In Schools Benton-Franklin
Grade:
School: Richland School District
State: WA
Nominated By: Mrs. Angela Withers
Year: 2020
Presented by Richland School District School Psychologists- CIS works to connect with families and students that are underserved. This includes building relationships, working alongside school employees to provide families and students with support and connect them to community services. Their partnership with school psychologists during the COVID-19 pandemic only further cements their critical role in our schools. We could not be as successful in our roles without this partnership and support
Name: Lauren Heiserman
Grade: Alternative Education Teacher
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2020
Lauren Heiserman is an incredible problem-solver when it comes to providing access to education for our hard-to-reach students and families. Her creativity in supporting students both on and off her caseload is transformative to both the students and the staff with whom she collaborates.
Name: Vilma Bonilla
Grade: Hispanic Achievement Liaison
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2020
Vilma Bonilla works tirelessly both in person and in the virtual world to allow our Spanish-speaking families to connect with school and be involved in their students' education. She connects on an incredible level with her students, as well. She is inspiringly efficient and makes an amazing impact on our school community.
Name: April Burnett
Grade: Reading Specialist
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2020
April has fearlessly taken on the role of PBIS coordinator in the midst of virtual learning and a pandemic. She is gone above and beyond in fostering a positive school environment in the virtual world. She has allowed students to feel connected and seen during a time of isolation.
Name: Mark Dunbar
Grade: Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2020
Mark Dunbar is incredible at supporting students' well-being and eliciting experiences of success for each student who works with him. He allows students to feel confident while challenging them to grow. The work he puts into fostering positive school connections for our students is life-changing.
Name: Angela Sullivan
Grade: Paraeducator
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2020
Ms. Angela Sullivan is incredibly hard-working and provides an incredible balance of expectation and support for her students. She is a calming force and truly demonstrates what it means to put the child first. Her commitment to her students and to demonstrating excellence is inspiring.
Name: Sarah Whelan
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Syracuse City School District
State: NY
Nominated By: Katie Sebo
Year: 2020
Ms. Whelan is a vocal advocate not only for the students on her special education caseload, but for all students at Frazer School. She works tirelessly to support students' individual needs and has demonstrated the flexibility necessary to do so while providing both in-person and remote instruction. Ms. Whelan is approachable and develops strong personal relationships with her students, so much so that students often reach out to her after leaving middle school. She is a wonderful educator!
Name: Melisa Baker
Grade: Special Educator
School: Oyster River Cooperative School District
State: NH
Nominated By: Felicia Sperry
Year: 2020
As a special educator at Mast Way, Melisa is a quiet leader dedicated to the students she serves and works diligently in collaboration with colleagues and families. She serves as a mentor for students, is a good listener, uses creativity and innovation to heighten student’s interest, acknowledging assets instead of deficits. Melisa is highly engaged with her students, connects personally with some of our most reluctant learners, helping them develop a love of learning and themselves.
Name: Catherine Plourde
Grade: Director of Student Services
School: Oyster River Cooperative School District
State: NH
Nominated By: Felicia Sperry
Year: 2020
As Director of Student Services, Catherine has been a strong advocate for school psychologists, lobbying to hire fulltime school psychs at all buildings, greatly improving behavioral mental health support for students. She has lowered barriers to learning by recognizing the individual needs of students and accessing resources. She engages and collaborates with colleagues across the district and state and improves other’s understanding of what it takes to improve outcomes for children.
Name: Malcolm Anderson
Grade: Assistant Principal
School: Howard County Public Schools
State: MD
Nominated By: Rosalind R. Sheppard, NCSP
Year: 2020
Malcolm Anderson is a staff member who shows his commitment to education every day. He is a tireless advocate for the needs of the students and families in our school community. Malcolm has spent countless hours working to support individuals and he always seeks to put the needs of students first. He is an ally and he looks to work "shoulder to shoulder" with others to reach our youth. Malcolm exudes positivity and always seeks to uplift others through grace and patience.
Name: Paula Murphy
Grade: Special Education Instructional Team Leader
School: Howard County Public School System
State: MD
Nominated By: Jonathan M. Solomon, PhD
Year: 2020
Paula Murphy is a commensurate special education professional. She cares deeply about students, staff, and families. She treats all with respect and works tirelessly as an advocate and support. She is extremely adept interacting her high-needs students and supportingthe staff whom she supervises. She is able to deal with great challenges with skill and a smile. It is a pleasure and a privilege for all who work with her.
Name: Deborah Velencia
Grade: Special Education Instructional Team Leader
School: Howard County Public School System
State: MD
Nominated By: Jonathan M. Solomon, PhD
Year: 2020
Deborah Velencia is a commensurate special education professional. She cares deeply about students, staff, and families. She treats all with respect and works tirelessly as an advocate and support. Mrs. Velencia also is knowledgeable about special education law and procedure and guides IEP teams positively and effectively. It is a pleasure and a privilege for all who work with her.
Name: Donna Ueckermann
Grade: School Counselor; Instructional Team Leader
School: Howard County Public School System
State: MD
Nominated By: Jonathan M. Solomon, PhD
Year: 2020
Mrs. Ueckermann is a caring, compassionate, and skilled school counselor. She is a role model for what a school counselor should be. In addition, she is an outstanding leader of the Oakland Mills High School Student Services Department. Mrs. Ueckermann is organized, creative, and dedicated. She is a role model for all that a school counselor should be. Oakland Mills High School is fortunate to have her as part of our staff.
Name: Jeffrey Fink
Grade: Principal
School: Howard County Public School System
State: MD
Nominated By: Jonathan M. Solomon, PhD
Year: 2020
Dr. Fink consistently goes above and beyond to support students, staff, and families. HIs "Strongest Together" initiative empowers all the stakeholders at our school and strengthens both individuals and our community at large. Dr. Fink also backs up his beliefs with his actions. He makes himself available to respond to all questions and concerns and works hard to resolve the issues at hand. He is a model for administrators across the US.
Name: Holly Flanagan
Grade: School Social Worker
School: Howard County Public Schools
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer
Year: 2020
Mrs. Holly Flanagan shares her wealth of knowledge and resources with our student support team and staff. She manages our school based mental health program and is always available to consult and support our staff. Mrs. Flanagan provides mental health services to students in need and works closely with families and community agencies to improve access to mental health treatment and services. We are so fortunate to have Mrs. Flanagan as our school social worker! Thank you Mrs. Flanagan!
Name: Jacqueline Rebok
Grade: French Teacher/Administrative Intern
School: Howard County Public Schools
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer
Year: 2020
Mrs. Rebok is a fabulous French teacher, colleague, and partner in reaching all students. She brings so much joy to our school and lifts everyone's spirits. Mrs. Rebok developed and implemented a staff/student mentoring program to support students who struggle with virtual learning. Mrs. Rebok is committed to help students and staff thrive during challenging times. Thank you Mrs. Rebok!
Name: Dion Chapman
Grade: Special Education Teacher Regional ED Program
School: Howard County Public Schools
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer
Year: 2020
Mr. Dion Chapman shows positivity, optimism, and genuine concern for our students in the high school regional ED program . Mr. Chapman shows kindness and support during some of the most challenging times in students' lives. We all appreciate his hard work, consistency, and willingness to go above and beyond to help students. Thank you Mr. Chapman!
Name: Vanessa Morales
Grade: Hispanic Achievement Liaison
School: Howard County Public Schools
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer
Year: 2020
Mrs. Morales is a true partner is making possibilities happen for students and families. She is a wonderful and caring advocate for all and she works tirelessly to remove barriers to success. Mrs. Morales is incredible and I'm so fortunate to work with her!
Name: Gregory Solomon
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Howard County Public Schools
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer
Year: 2020
You make a difference in student's lives. The relationships you create with students have a lifelong positive impact on their ability to succeed! Your hard work, patience, and genuine spirit is incredible. Thank you for all you do Mr. Solomon.
Name: Sue Ann Blach
Grade: ERMHS Manager
School: Desert Sands Unified School District
State: CA
Nominated By: Heriberto Fajardo Herrera, Jr
Year: 2020
Sue Ann is nominated for the Possibilities in Action Partner program to highlight her on-going professional dedication to improving outcomes for all students, supporting the needs for children and families and for her exceptional professional functioning and effectiveness within our district and community. Sue Ann builds positive relationships with all stakeholders and looks to build on the strengths of the district through her collaborative efforts between multi-disciplinary professionals.
Name: Robbin Nave
Grade: Para-educator
School: Special School District and University City School District
State: MO
Nominated By: Rachel Bromberg
Year: 2019
Ms. Nave is fearlessly devoted to improving student outcomes with all of the students that she works with. Ms. Nave is a positive force within our school who is always willing to do whatever it takes to support our students. She advocates for students to make sure that they get what they need and collaborates with other school professionals to meet all student needs. Ms. Nave is definitely deserving of this award.
Name: Mayte Fuentes
Grade: Fourth Grade Teacher
School: Miami-Dade County Public Schools
State: FL
Nominated By: Mrs. Zoie Garrido-Fischer Prudenzano
Year: 2019
Mayte has been nominated in collaboration with her school's administrative, leadership team--here at Coral Park Elementary! Mayte is an outstanding Teacher that gives her heart to her students and their families--not only in the classroom but through after-school programs and other additional channels!
Name: Monica Rodriguez
Grade: School Counselor
School: Miami-Dade County Public Schools
State: FL
Nominated By: Mrs. Zoie Garrido-Fischer Prudenzano
Year: 2019
Monica has been nominated in collaboration with her school's administrative, leadership team--here at Coral Park Elementary! Monica is a superb School Counselor that gives her heart to CPE students, families, and community on a daily basis!
Name: Karen Chin
Grade: Science Teacher
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2019
Ms. Chin demonstrates incredible patience and flexibility with her students. She meets the students where they are and does an excellent job of celebrating their growth. She seeks to foster strong relationships and positive classroom environments through a variety of methods.
Name: Laura Behrens
Grade: Math Teacher
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2019
Ms. Behrens does an incredible job of supporting her students and her staff team members. She is proactive and finds creative ways to problem-solve. Her dedication to the schools and families she serves is apparent, and she is a stellar advocate.
Name: Jamira Lee
Grade: Paraeducator
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2019
Ms. Lee has demonstrated incredible flexibility this year. She is extremely skilled at building positive relationships with our resistant students. She is dependable and she has made such a difference already this school year.
Name: Karen Shannon
Grade: Special Educator
School: HCPSS
State: MD
Nominated By: Sydney Lynn Morales
Year: 2019
Ms. Shannon goes above and beyond for her students. She builds strong relationships with her students and provides stability to students and staff in times of crisis. She advocates for supports and is sensitive to her students' needs. She demonstrates a wonderful balance of high expectations and care. Thank you for all you do!
Name: Southwest Learning Community School Psychologists Orange County Public Schools
Grade: School Psychologists
School: Southwest Learning Community, Orange County Public Schools
State: FL
Nominated By: Mary J. Bryant, EdS, NCSP
Year: 2019
We would like to recognize the Southwest Learning Community School Psychologists of Orange County Public Schools as a NASP Partner in Action for their resilience and teamwork. This team should be recognized for their commitment to collaboration on a team level in terms of crisis response. The strengths of this unified team were magnified during the 2018-2019 school year in which they experienced the highest number of crisis events requiring a district level response within OCPS.
Name: Kathleen Petersen
Grade: English Language Arts Teacher
School: Wake County Public School System
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Parrish Goble
Year: 2019
Ms. Petersen works to support the 'whole child'. She has initiated and led programs to support social-emotional learning competencies and value of 'being kind' and serving others. Ms. Petersen wears many hats and is eagerly sought out by colleagues for professional guidance and leadership. Most recently, she volunteered to co-chair our School Improvement Plan SEL committee.
Name: Luther Baker
Grade: Man of Valor President/CEO
School: University City School District
State: MO
Nominated By: Rachel Bromberg
Year: 2018
Bishop Baker goes above and beyond with our students every day. He works behind the scenes to support students. Bishop Baker believes in our students and is dedicated to their success. He tirelessly advocates for students and is an overall exceptional asset to our team at University City High School.
Name: Jacqueline Kron
Grade: Education Specialist
School: Irvine Unified School District
State: CA
Nominated By: Roxane Olsh
Year: 2018
Jacqueline is our Special Education Dept Chair, one of the most organized, driven teachers I have ever worked with. She is my partner in advocacy for our students. She goes WELL ABOVE and beyond to ensure student success. Before school help, after school help, during lunch; if students are willing to come in to study for a test, complete work, she is there for them. She is extremely communicative to parents, solidifying that home / school connection for our students. She is AMAZING!!!
Name: Lynn Matassarin
Grade: Principal
School: Irvine Unified School District
State: CA
Nominated By: Roxane Olsh
Year: 2018
I have worked with many special education and general education teachers in my 20 year career. If I could nominate my whole school, I would. In all my years I've never had a more collective group of teachers that were student focused. These teachers if I come to them regarding a particular student, problem solve and have the attitude, "whatever is best for the student". This stems from leadership. Our principal is nominated, because she has developed talent in the culture of our school.
Name: Emily Mandile
Grade: Registrar, Speech and Debate Coach
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Mrs. Mandile is the Speech and Debate coach and the registrar in our high school. She coaches several students with Autism and Emotional Disabilities which has taught these students the most important life skills. Our students learn to communicate and articulate at an advanced level, negotiate, and show flexibility by "reading the audience" to adjust their speech/debate points. I've witnessed incredible transformations in our students' abilities to show self control, composure and confidence.
Name: Dr. Katherine Yienger
Grade: Chemistry Teacher
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Dr. Yienger has been a champion for our most vulnerable students with an emotional disability. She's created a welcoming and safe classroom environment for this student who's bright, but is presented with daily challenges with her mental health well being. Dr. Yienger goes above and beyond to show the student care, compassion, and empathy. The student has shared that Dr. Yienger's class is what keeps her motivated to attend school.
Name: Katherine Schloss
Grade: General Education Teacher
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Ms. Schloss is a compassionate, empathetic teacher who can be counted on to support our most challenging students. Ms. Schloss is a champion for our special education students. She advocates for their needs, thinks outside the box when strategies fail to improve student's behavior, and our school's restorative justice team leader.
Name: Sarah Ragusa
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Mrs. Ragusa is a special education math co-teacher at the high school level. She's helped support students of all levels academically and social emotionally. She shows patience, flexibility, and willingness to meet students needs. Mrs. Ragusa was gracious in participating in several restorative justice conversations with a student presented with mental health issues. Mrs. Ragusa is a wonderful example for our students to build trust and restore relationships.
Name: Kenya Watkins
Grade: Special Education Student Assistant
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Ms. Watkins is an outstanding special education student assistant. She is natural and building relationships and supporting our most challenging student behavior. Ms. Watkins goes above and beyond to help our most vulnerable students succeed in school. She collaborates with special education staff and utilizes all of the resources and supports available to help her students succeed.
Name: Carole Farrante
Grade: Physical Education Teacher
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Ms. Ferrante is eager and willing to support student's social emotional and mental health. She is a source of strength for our students and a wonderful advocate.
Name: Shari Meyer
Grade: Special Education Paraeducator
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Mrs. Meyer is a special education paraeducator in our Academic Life Skills program for our students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Ms. Meyer supports our students across the school day in and out of general education setting. She shows care and concern for our students in the program as well as general education peers. Ms. Meyer is compassionate and caring.
Name: Stephanie Goldberg
Grade: Art Teacher
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Ms. Stephanie Goldberg teaches art at the high school level. She connects with students easily, recognizes, and highlights their strengths in her class. Ms. Goldberg collaborates well with student services to help students succeed beyond her class. She is flexible, thoughtful, and caring. She deeply cares about her student's mental health and overall well being.
Name: Eunice French
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Ms. French is a special education teacher at the high school level. She holds students to high expectations while showing deep empathy, care, and concern for our students. This school year, she was a champion for one of our students who's been in foster care for many years. Ms. French worked closely with the student, providing individualized instruction while building trust and showing compassion. The student's transformation while attending our school was remarkable.
Name: Phil Rogers
Grade: Math Teacher, Track Coach
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Mr. Rogers is an outstanding general education math teacher who's been co-teaching with a special education teacher for many years. He's helped work with one of the most challenging student with an emotional disability through restorative justice practices several times this school year. Mr. Rogers is a wonderful example to our students on how to appropriately work out differences, come up with solutions to problems, and recover/restore trust in a student/staff relationship.
Name: Loretta Dospil-Farley
Grade: Special Education Instructional Team Leader
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer, NCSP
Year: 2018
Loretta is an outstanding special education team leader. At the high school level, with more than 100 students with special education services, Loretta leads the team, conducts meetings, and keeps up with the endless paperwork, all with enthusiasm, professionalism, and a deep passion to help students succeed and families to navigate the process.
Name: Angela Atchison, Wendy Mullins, Kelly Houk, Sara Pollett, Heather Hill, Marianna Mitchell, Christine Reed Oldham County School Psychologists
Grade: School Psychologist
School: Oldham County
State: KY
Nominated By: Christine Reed
Year: 2018
This group is smart, insightful, funny and dedicated to their profession. The work they do is rarely easy and almost always behind the scenes so they don't often get the recognition they deserve. This group handles difficult situations with grace and dignity always keep what's best for kids in the forefront.
Name: John Roberts
Grade: Director of Specialized Academic Programs
School: Oldham County
State: KY
Nominated By: Christine Reed
Year: 2018
John has overseen the school psychs in our county for several years now. He is always supportive and encourages us to grow professionally. He helps us think outside the box and problem solve when demanding situations arise. We appreciate his positive outlook and leadership.
Name: Jamie Lowery
Grade: Behavior Consultant
School: Oldham County
State: KY
Nominated By: Christine Reed
Year: 2018
Jamie has a big job and she does it extremely well. She is only called into the trickiest situations. Jamie offers insightful observations and suggests the best programming for students. She works collaboratively with the school psychs and we value her input tremendously.
Name: Jill Canuel, Max Wineinger, Renee Grady, Richard Brooks Mental Health Consultants
Grade: Mental Health Consultants
School: Oldham County
State: KY
Nominated By: Christine Reed
Year: 2018
This group of professionals goes way above and beyond to make sure that each student they serve has the best mental health support services available. They show grace and poise in difficult circumstances and they treat the people they encounter with dignity and respect. This group of professionals are experts at partnering with school staff, parents, and outside providers for the benefit of the students. I'm so glad they work in our school district.
Name: Social and Emotional Learning Team
Grade: SEL
School: Pre-K 4 SA
State: TX
Nominated By: Maria Bayoumi
Year: 2018
The SEL Team at Pre-K 4 SA includes a group of behavior specialists, Jessica Alexander, Kimberly Juarez, Christopher Mendozza and Lisa McFarlane, and an Assistant Director, Leticia Espinoza. This dedicated group provides direct support to children and their teachers to promote SEL. Their daily commitment to promoting inclusiveness, connecting with children and raising awareness of what it takes to improve outcomes, is truly amazing. They help children unlock their potential every day!
Name: Gloria Graves
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Judson Independent School District
State: TX
Nominated By: Ms. Tina M. Wehner Hickman
Year: 2018
When I enter Ms. Graves' room, I usually find a list of vocabulary words on the board. The class has read the novel Huckleberry Finn. They have built a model of the Alamo, and raised a butterfly garden. Sometimes they have "Fraction" races in the hallway. The students love it, and they learn. Ms. Graves has high expectations for her life skills (ID) students, and many of them have risen to the challenge. We need more teachers like her.
Name: Catherine Thomas
Grade: Surrogate Parent
School: Trinity Charter Schools, Pegasus
State: Texas
Nominated By: Joanna Belz, LSSP
Year: 2017
We are fortunate to have amazing individuals who dedicate their time and efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. More specifically, Catherine Thomas is our newest surrogate parent, and she has demonstrated commitment to positive interaction with students as well as shows caring and interest in activities outside the classroom that contribute to the whole child. Ms. Thomas talks with students about personal academic interests and promotes resilience in students. I would like to express my appreciation for our surrogate parent by nominating her for this recognition.
Name: Lloyd and Jill Hartman
Grade: Surrogate Parents
School: Trinity Charter Schools, Pegasus
State: Texas
Nominated By: Joanna Belz, LSSP
Year: 2017
We are fortunate to have amazing individuals who dedicate their time and efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. More specifically, Lloyd and Jill Hartman go above and beyond to help students succeed in every possible way, including being trusted adults to whom students go for help, checking in on students and providing the resources that students need (socks, books, etc.) I would like to express my appreciation for our surrogate parents by nominating them for this recognition.
Name: Rex Calvin Ivey
Grade: Surrogate Parent
School: Trinity Charter Schools, Pegasus
State: Texas
Nominated By: Joanna Belz, LSSP
Year: 2017
We are fortunate to have amazing individuals who dedicate their time and efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. More specifically, Rex Calvin Ivy is a mentor who gives and models respect, a role model who highlights successes rather than shortcomings, and treats adults and students in a respectful, caring manner. Mr. Ivey always brings breakfast tacos, donuts, and a positive attitude to our IEP meetings. Mr. Ivey is a former teacher at Pegasus and is also a member of the LPAC committee. I would like to express my appreciation for our surrogate parent by nominating him for this recognition.
Name: Helen Nash
Grade: Surrogate Parent
School: Trinity Charter Schools, Pegasus
State: Texas
Nominated By: Joanna Belz
Year: 2017
We are fortunate to have amazing individuals who dedicate their time and efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. More specifically, Helen Nash is always willing to attend and actively participates in IEP meetings and has shown personal dedication to improving outcomes for students. She also brings baked goods to share. I would like to express my appreciation for our surrogate parent by nominating her for this recognition.
Name: Monica Espinoza
Grade: Speech-Language Pathologist
School: KIPP Bay Area Schools
State: California
Nominated By: Katie Pettersen, Ed.S., PPS, NCSP
Year: 2017
Having a colleague and friend like Monica has been invaluable to me. Her expertise in all things speech and language helps me to problem-solve with many student concerns that come my way, and her calm demeanor has helped me destress and feel like we are not islands in this work.
Name: Amanda Cruz
Grade: 6th Grade Writing Teacher / 6th Grade Level Chair
School: KIPP Bay Area Schools
State: California
Nominated By: Katie Pettersen, Ed.S., PPS, NCSP
Year: 2017
I have had the pleasure of working with Amanda since she was an education specialist, and now as a general education writing teacher. She was kind enough to reach out to me and volunteer to help me co-facilitate the brand new Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club on our campus. She has jumped right in and always provides helpful insights and incredible resources to support the club. Additionally, her expertise as an incredible teacher helps me figure out how to present information to students. I'm not sure where we would be without her.
Name: Caroline Sherman
Grade: Education Specialist
School: KIPP Bay Area Schools
State: California
Nominated By: Katie Pettersen, Ed.S., PPS, NCSP
Year: 2017
Caroline goes above and beyond to provide supports and services to all our KIPPsters. I'm not quite sure how she does everything that she does. She is always willing to brainstorm and work together, is a positive and enthusiastic colleague, and is efficient in her role, even though she is new to it this year! I love working with Caroline!
Name: Matthew Tuths
Grade: Teacher
School: University City
State: Missouri
Nominated By: Ms. Woodward and Ms. Quintal
Year: 2017
Mr. Tuths goes above and beyond with our students every day. He makes his room a safe place for students to get help, talk about issues, or just hang out. Mr. Tuths believes in our students and is dedicated to their success. Mr. Tuths tirelessly advocates for students and is just an overall awesome person and teacher.
Name: Veronica Saccoh
Grade: School Social Worker
School: Wake County Public School System
State: NC
Nominated By: Jacquelyn Mercer
Year: 2017
Our goals as school psychologists are never accomplished in isolation. We are fortunate to have other student services professionals as colleagues in our efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. I would like to express my appreciation for my school counselor and school social worker partners by nominating them for this recognition.
Name: Jasmine Cope
Grade: School Social Worker
School: Wake County Public School System
State: NC
Nominated By: Jacquelyn Mercer
Year: 2017
Our goals as school psychologists are never accomplished in isolation. We are fortunate to have other student services professionals as colleagues in our efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. I would like to express my appreciation for my school counselor and school social worker partners by nominating them for this recognition.
Name: Precious Pearl Sie-Duke
Grade: School Counselor
School: Wake County Public School System
State: NC
Nominated By: Jacquelyn Mercer
Year: 2017
Our goals as school psychologists are never accomplished in isolation. We are fortunate to have other student services professionals as colleagues in our efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. I would like to express my appreciation for my school counselor and school social worker partners by nominating them for this recognition.
Name: Christopher LaRose
Grade: School Counselor
School: Wake County Public School System
State: NC
Nominated By: Jacquelyn Mercer
Year: 2017
Our goals as school psychologists are never accomplished in isolation. We are fortunate to have other student services professionals as colleagues in our efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. I would like to express my appreciation for my school counselor and school social worker partners by nominating them for this recognition.
Name: Kristin Poe
Grade: School Counselor
School: Wake County Public School System
State: NC
Nominated By: Jacquelyn Mercer
Year: 2017
Our goals as school psychologists are never accomplished in isolation. We are fortunate to have other student services professionals as colleagues in our efforts to create positive change in the lives of our students. I would like to express my appreciation for my school counselor and school social worker partners by nominating them for this recognition.
Name: Kathleen Hytla
Grade: Intervention Specialist
School: Lebanon City School District
State: Ohio
Nominated By: Cherie Gibson, Ph.D., NCSP
Year: 2017
Kathy is an invaluable asset to our school's efforts toward improving student outcomes. She recognizes the individual needs of students through co-teaching and participating in collaborative problem-solving with colleagues. She coordinates all IEP meetings for the building. She shows care and interest in activities outside of the classroom that contribute to the total development of students. Ultimately, Kathy makes Lebanon High School a positive place to work, learn and grow.
Name: Kameron Bachert
Grade: Assistant Director of the Early Childhood Learning Center
School: Casa Grande Elementary School District
State: Arizona
Nominated By: Casie Blount
Year: 2017
Kameron is an amazing team member and building leader. She is able to connect with parents and help alleviate fear and confusion when their children are struggling. She is committed to helping every child on campus, no matter how difficult they may prove to be. She is able to help parents find resources in the community, as well as serve as an advocate for the improvement of the community as a whole.
Name: Jennifer K. Schneider
Grade: Second Grade Teacher
School: Jamestown Public Schools
State: North Dakota
Nominated By: Wayne Leben
Year: 2017
Jennifer is a second grade teacher who initiated a Nurtured Heart approach within her school. Knowing that her incoming class included several special needs students she obtained additional training to meet her student's needs. Jennifer was proactive in seeking and utilizing the assistance of the school counselor and school psychologist in order to benefit her students. She also led a book study to share her knowledge with her peers, much to the betterment of the entire school. I nominate Jennifer Scheider as true action partner for her efforts on behalf of her students.
Name: Jennifer K. Schneider
Grade: Mrs.
School: Jamestown Public Schools
State: North Dakota
Nominated By: Wayne Leben
Year: 2017
Jennifer is a second grade teacher who initiated a Nurtured Heart approach within her school. Knowing that her incoming class included several special needs students she obtained additional training to meet her student's needs. Jennifer was proactive in seeking and utilizing the assistance of the school counselor and school psychologist in order to benefit her students. She also lead a book study to share her knowledge with her peers, much to the betterment of the entire school. I nominate Jennifer Scheider as true action partner for her efforts on behalf of her students.
Name: Meredith Crittenden
Grade: District PBIS Coordinator/District Level Behavioral Intervention Specialist
School: Marietta City Schools
State: Georgia
Nominated By: Ivette Beach
Year: 2016
Name: Laurie Kiah
Grade: Teacher
School: Lisbon Central School
State: NY
Nominated By: Elizabeth Hafer
Year: 2016
Name: Lauren Morley
Grade: Middle/High School Prinicpal
School: Lisbon Central School
State: NY
Nominated By: Elizabeth Hafer
Year: 2016
Name: Katrina Putman
Grade: School Counselor
School: Lisbon Central School
State: NY
Nominated By: Elizabeth Hafer
Year: 2016
Name: Kelvin Shores
Grade: Principal
School: Coffee County Schools
State: Tennessee
Nominated By: Faith Cheyne
Year: 2016
Mr. Shores is a great leader. He has made several great changes at East Coffee Elementary School this year to improve the school climate, encourage attendance, and to help students enjoy school. Mr. Shores makes great connections with parents and students and is always looking for ways to improve his school.
Name: Jackie Wright
Grade: General Education Teacher
School: Coffee County Schools
State: Tennessee
Nominated By: Faith Cheyne
Year: 2016
Jackie goes above and beyond to ensure that she meets the needs of and includes all students in everything she does. She is always willing to attend and actively participates in meetings.
Name: Katie Lowe
Grade: Special Education Interventionist
School: Coffee County Schools
State: Tennessee
Nominated By: Faith Cheyne
Year: 2016
Katie is a great interventionist. She makes wonderful connections with students and provides and environment for them where they can feel safe and learn. Katie is always searching for ways to improve her instruction to ensure student growth and success.
Name: David DeRushia
Grade: ENL and Spanish Teacher
School: Lisbon Central School
State: NY
Nominated By: Elizabeth Hafer
Year: 2016
Mr. DeRushia has jumped in with both feet since starting at LCS. He has been a strong advocate for his English Language Learners and goes above and beyond to work with families and all service providers to ensure his students are supported. Mr. DeRushia has also become involved in many extracurricular activities and is always willing to help in any way he can. He is an asset to this district and deserves recognition as an extraordinary teacher. He advocates for their needs, brainstorms solutions, and provides any necessary services available. He is selfless in his work with students.
Name: Lynda Hooper
Grade: Instructional Technology Curriculum Coach/Business Teacher
School: Lisbon Central School
State: NY
Nominated By: Elizabeth Hafer
Year: 2016
In my time at Lisbon, Lynda has been an advocate for supporting her students both inside and outside her classroom. She is dedicated to various clubs, committees and support teams, throughout the district, to provide the best environment she can to our students. Lynda has gone out of her way to support me as a new administrator and assist me in knowing some of background stories/situations of those students we have that are in need. I commend her willingness to go above and beyond her "normal" duties to provide support to her colleagues and our district students at all levels.
Name: Brittney Sherman
Grade: 3rd Grade Teacher
School: Lisbon Central School
State: NY
Nominated By: Elizabeth Hafer
Year: 2016
She's an excellent teacher in every sense.
Name: Karen VanPatten
Grade: Elementary Special Education Teacher
School: Lisbon Central School
State: NY
Nominated By: Elizabeth Hafer
Year: 2016
I am nominating this teacher for her dedication to improving outcomes for all students. Mrs. VanPatten collaborates with multiple general education teachers, along with many service providers. Mrs. VaPatten always puts "students first" and goes above and beyond to make her classroom a safe supportive place for students. Mrs. VanPatten is an advocate for children.
Name: Ashley Denton
Grade: Elementary School Counselor, At Risk Coordinator, Public Relations Coordinator
School: Missouri Valley Community Schools
State: Iowa
Nominated By: Brittney Bills, Ed.S., NCSP
Year: 2016
Ashley serves as the district’s At Risk Coordinator, Public Relations Coordinator, Elementary Guidance Counselor and TeamMates Coordinator. Ashley not only spends a great deal of her time coordinating various activities and programs for our students and staff, but also makes time to collaborate with staff to support our students' mental/behavioral health needs, she takes time to each lunch with students throughout the week, provides individual counseling, small group instruction and mentors students as a part of the TeamMates program. Ashley embodies this year’s School Psychology Awareness theme with her passion for Growth Mindset. She is constantly challenging herself, students and staff to grow and develop by recognizing and making Small Steps that Change Lives!
Name: Jennifer Todd
Grade: Teacher
School:
State: Washington
Nominated By: Alexandra Franks
Year: 2016
In the classroom, Ms. Todd facilitates effective teaching and individualized instruction by lowering barriers to learning, while recognizing the individual needs of students by promoting student emotional and behavioral health. In the building, Ms. Todd improves others’ understanding of what it takes to improve outcomes for children, engages other staff in collaborative efforts to help students, and connects personally to students and families. In the community, Ms. Todd facilitates collaboration with community providers, especially with regards to inclusion of Nisqually culture and customs in education.
Name: Susan Donlin
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Marietta City Schools
State: Georgia
Nominated By: MCS School Psychologists
Year: 2016
Name: Vicki Cheek
Grade: Intervention Specialist
School: Cory-Rawson Local Schools
State: Ohio
Nominated By: Emily Bersaglia
Year: 2015
Vicki puts her all into helping her students to succeed in every possible way. She bakes them birthday cakes, and even has helped them find jobs and transportation to work when they have needed it. She helps in ways that many do not know.
Name: Beth Vorst
Grade: School Counselor
School: Cory-Rawson Local Schools
State: Ohio
Nominated By: Emily Bersaglia
Year: 2015
She stays positive. She offers help and ideas. Beth connects with parents and students in positive ways. Beth encourages others and promotes positive self-esteem
Name: Joy Nichols
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Sycamore Community Schools
State: Ohio
Nominated By: Regina Stauder
Year: 2015
Joy is able to see the strengths of all of our students especially those who have the most needs. She works hard with teams to support their behavioral and academic needs. She knows how important it is for all students to have friends and all of her IEP meetings are celebrations of her students (food, friends, presentations and all!). Her dedication to her students, families, and those she works with is special. She truly brings JOY to all of those around her!
Name: Cedric Buck
Grade: English Language Arts Teacher
School: Wake County Public School System
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Leigh Goble
Year: 2015
Mr. Buck is acknowledged as a trusted adult to whom students (current and former) go for help, a mentor who gives and models respect, a role model who highlights successes rather than shortcomings and a teacher who treats adults and students in a respectful, caring manner.
Name: Kate Miller
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Wake County Public School System
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Leigh Goble
Year: 2015
Ms. Miller is recognized for her work to lower barriers to learning for students who are academically at risk, the ability to recognize the individual needs of students, expertise to adapt instruction to match student learning style and ability level, collaboration with colleagues and support staff to develop optimal programming for students and her focus on students’ academic improvement not just academic excellence as a way to celebrate small successes.
Name: Joy Pantzer
Grade: Physical Education & Healthful Living Teacher
School: Wake County Public School System
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Leigh Goble
Year: 2015
Ms. Pantzer supports students’ physical and mental health by incorporating health messages into lessons, engaging students in healthy life habits, encouraging students to pursue physical activity and organizing activities outside the classroom that contribute to the whole child.
Name: James McArdle
Grade: Social Studies Teacher
School: Wake County Public School System
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Leigh Goble
Year: 2015
Each school year, Mr. McArdle connects personally with students and families, models engagement, caring and respect, promotes positive character traits for our student body, recognizes positive qualities in colleagues and helps to make school a positive place to work and to learn.
Name: Ina Nyko
Grade: School Psychologist
School: WCPSS
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Kokenes
Year: 2015
Ina works with the Promoting School Psychology committee to show leadership in our profession. Her ideas are great.
Name: Mr. Mike Moylan
Grade: Head Custodian
School: Granby Public Schools
State: CT
Nominated By: Amy Underhill
Year: 2014
Mike is a cherished and respected of the Kelly Lane staff. In addition to keeping our school sparkling and safe in conjunction with his team, he goes above and beyond to make connections with kids, involving our most at-risk students in leadership roles and facilitates recycling and beutification programs that give students struggling an opportunity to shine and succeed. He deserves a spotlight and gold stars from the heavens for all the positive energy he adds to our Kelly Lane Community.
Name: Linda Gaskill
Grade: School Psychologist
School: Prince George's County Public School
State: MD
Nominated By: Valerie Clark
Year: 2014
Mrs. Linda Gaskill has been recognized as she embodies all elements of the Possibility In Action Partner. Her staunch commitment to effective collaboration with students, parents and staff is reflected in all her interactions. Thus, her long-term dedication to advocacy on behalf of students is commended.
Name: Mrs. Laurie Scott-Bulka
Grade: School Psychologist
School: Howard County Public School District
State: MD
Nominated By: Valerie Clark
Year: 2014
Mrs. Laurie Scott-Bulka has been recognized due to her unwavering commitment in making a difference in the lives of the students she serves. Ms. Laurie Scott-Bulka exemplifies all the attributes of the Possibilities in Action Partner award. This includes her extraordinary personal and professional dedication to improving outcomes for students.
Name: Keela Lupton
Grade: 4th Grade Teacher - Samuel Tucker Elementary School
School: Alexandria City Public Schools
State: VA
Nominated By: Virginia Larsen and the Staff at Samuel Tucker Elementary School
Year: 2013
Role model, Mentor, Collaborator, and Cheerleader. Keela captivates and inspires her class, while commanding their respect. Keela is masterful at creating sustainable and appropriate routines that build children's trust and confidence. She genuinely and humbly shares her expertise with colleagues. Though she is highly knowledgeable and skilled, her strength lies in her desire to continue to learn.
Name: Deborah Dunmore
Grade:
School:
State: VA
Nominated By: Andrew Intagliata
Year: 2013
Deborah goes out of her way to meet the needs of her students.
Name: Daniel Barnes
Grade: Teaching Assistant
School: Bedford Central School District
State: NY
Nominated By: Dr. Peter Faustino
Year: 2013
Dan Barnes is an extraordinary Teaching Assistant. For the past 7 years, he has consistently recognized the strengths in our students with severe autism. He consistently sets individual goals for students, modifies instructional materials to the student’s ability level and celebrates small successes in all of the students within the SAIL III program. Dan also models engagement, caring, and respect, as well as helps to make Fox Lane Middle school a positive place to work and to learn.
Name: Shereima Smith
Grade: Special Educator
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Keren Kreitzer
Year: 2013
Poverty, abuse, trauma, and a dysfunctional family life are just a few of the stressors that our students face at a young age. However, when the students enter our building, Mrs. Smith ensures safety, security, and stability. She believes in her students. Mrs. Smith treats her students with respect and dignity. Her incredible sincerity and passion for teaching our students with emotional and learning disabilities is a gift to our school and community. We need more teachers like Mrs. Smith.
Name: Stand4KidsNM
Grade: Grassroots Organization
School: Statewide Representation
State: NM
Nominated By: Elesha Fetrow
Year: 2013
Stand4Kids NM is a grassroots formed by 4 parents as a response to the roll out of student testing and teacher evaluations. The group have organized a rally, begun a petition, and started online community building around the notions of protecting our valuable resources – students and teachers. They embody the idea that big changes can come from small voices.
Name: Emily Vaughn
Grade: Principal
School: CMCSS
State: TN
Nominated By: Dr. Patti Wilson
Year: 2013
Emily is an innovative leader, working tirelessly to maximize the potential of teamwork and increase student success. She developed P.R.I.D.E (positivity, respect, integrity, determination, excellence), a program utilized to recognize staff and students for living our school’s mission. She is an agent of change -- she is the first in the district to fully integrate the RTI model! In an atmosphere where we are truly "all in," you can be sure Ms. Vaughn is out front, fearlessly leading the way!
Name: Scott Reynolds
Grade: Chief Student Support Services Officer
School: Washoe County School District
State: NV
Nominated By: Renee Kadlubek, Ph.D., J.D.
Year: 2013
Scott Reynolds has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to improve the lives of children. His professional roles and titles have changed over the years, but his goal has always been to increase positive outcomes for children. Mr. Reynolds has been one of Nevada's strongest advocates for school psychologists, prevention/intervention, mental health, autism, and education. Mr. Reynolds is a man of great integrity, and his outstanding work has inspired many of us to do the same.
Name: Lisa Bartoli
Grade: School Counselor
School: Washoe County School District
State: NV
Nominated By: Renee Kadlubek, Ph.D., J.D.
Year: 2013
I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Ms. Bartoli in the Washoe County School District. She helps collaborate with students and adults to address the needs of our students. Ms. Bartoli has successfully secured funding to assist with her ongoing efforts to improve social emotional learning for the students at our school. She has systematically taken data to show that her efforts have shown positive and statistically significant outcomes for our students.
Name: Kimberly Blackstone
Grade: Administrative Secretary
School: Westside Union School District
State: CA
Nominated By: Jeanice Peterson, M.S., NCSP Jennifer Nicholson, M.S., L.E.P. Mario Almazan, M.A., Ed.S. Katherine De La Torre, M.S. George Collucci, M.S., Psy.D. Glen Egbert, M.A., L.E.P.
Year: 2013
Kimberly Blackstone has been the absolutely definition of someone who has a remarkable work ethic, unwavering values, and provides outstanding support to everyone with whom she comes in contact. Working with families with a special needs child requires patience, compassion, and a loving heart, all qualities Kimberly exudes seemingly effortlessly.
Name: Scott Brewer
Grade: Principal
School: Westside Union School District
State: CA
Nominated By: Jeanice Peterson, M.S., NCSP Jennifer Nicholson, M.S., L.E.P. Mario Almazan, M.A., Ed.S. Katherine De La Torre, M.S. George Collucci, M.S., Psy.D. Glen Egbert, M.A., L.E.P.
Year: 2013
Scott Brewer is an exceptional student education advocate who effectively works with special education and general education teachers to help ensure students receive the most appropriate learning experience within the most optimal learning setting available. He is an excellent example of someone who goes above and beyond to make sure all students are included. In addition Scott provides extra time and support to teachers.
Name: Deana Abrams
Grade: Health Teacher and PBIS Coach
School: Howard County
State: MD
Nominated By: Stephanie E. Livesay
Year: 2012
Deanna Abrams is an outstanding teacher and PBIS Coach. As a teacher she makes significant connections with students and makes sure their needs are always met. She is willing to collaborate with any staff member for the joint purpose of improving students' well-being academically, behaviorally, physically, or emotionally. She truly is a student advocate!
Name: Deana Abrams
Grade: Health Teacher and PBIS Coach
School: Howard County
State: Maryland
Nominated By: Stephanie E. Livesay
Year: 2012
Name: Allison Pastine
Grade: School Counselor
School: Anne Arundel County
State: Maryland
Nominated By: Selina Bankert
Year: 2012
Ms. Pastine was an essential leader in the Cougar Care Week initiative at Chesapeake High School. Her leadership efforts resulted in the design and implementation of multiple activities promoting school connectedness, healthy choices, suicide awareness and prevention, resiliency, and acceptance. The activities building up to the week, the individual activities, and the culminating week were huge successes and have resulted in a commitment by Chesapeake High School to continue the Cougar Care Project.
Name: Dr. John Mackiel
Grade: Superintendent
School: Omaha Public Schools
State: Nebraska
Nominated By: OPS School Psychologists
Year: 2012
We honor Dr. John Mackiel for his service to ALL the children of our school district. His determination and dedicated efforts have contributed to the academic success and well-being of all students in the Omaha Public Schools
Name: Debra Rust
Grade: Lead Special Education Teacher
School: Midfield City Schools
State: Alabama
Nominated By: Margaret Folsom Humphreys, Ed.S., NCSP
Year: 2012
Debra Rust exemplifies the
Name: Tara Nichols
Grade: ESAP Coordinator
School: Titusville Area School District
State: PA
Nominated By: TASD
Year: 2012
Tara is an amazing example of efficiency blended with prioritizing and truly caring for the student population in the Titusville Area School District. She is able to evaluate student needs and tend to them, always reaching all of them at some level in a timely manner. Tara treats kids with such dignity and empathy. She works tirelessly to enable children and families to have a positive educational experience. She goes out of her way to make sure all kids reach their potential and she advocates for families in all areas to strengthen them and provide them resources.
Name: Florence Ferraro
Grade: Social Worker
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: Virginia
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs & Walena Gardizi
Year: 2011
Name: Ian Brodie
Grade: Counselor
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: VA
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs & Walena Gardizi
Year: 2011
Name: Mary Bresser
Grade: Director of Student Services
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: VA
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs & Walena Gardizi
Year: 2011
Name: Kate George
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: Virginia
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs
Year: 2011
Name: Jenifer Celko
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: Virginia
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs
Year: 2011
Name: Lynn Carrera
Grade: Counselor
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: Virginia
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs
Year: 2011
Name: Amy Soos
Grade: Assessment Coach
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: VA
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs
Year: 2011
Name: Tim Pitkewicz
Grade: Counselor
School: Fairfax County Public Schools
State: VA
Nominated By: Jeremy Burroughs
Year: 2011
Name: Jeanne Russo
Grade: School Social Worker, WLTA Union President
School: Windsor Locks Public Schools
State: CT
Nominated By: Amy Underhill and Sue Jameson
Year: 2011
Jeanne is an all-around amazing individual. The level of involvement she has in our district as a social worker is admirable, and she seems to be everywhere at once. She demonstrates the flexibility of thinking and habit to be able to adapt to even the most significant changes. She has been described by colleagues as approachable, fun and deeply caring for each and every student. She is an integral part of the Windsor Locks community, and active in advocacy for the field of education. She is a skilled counselor, an excellent problem-solver, and maintains the highest levels of organization, follow through and integrity. Any task that Jeanne is given, no matter how big or small, she embraces with an energy and enthusiasm that is to be modeled.
Name: Deb Donahue
Grade: Guidance Secretary
School: Windsor Locks Public School
State: CT
Nominated By: Craig Perez
Year: 2011
Mrs. Donahue is a very hard worker clearly dedicated to the students of Windsor Locks High School. She deserves to be recognized for her effort and contributions. No matter how loarge the project, she gives it her all; often not even having the opportunity to see or enjoy the achievements, such as the many college fairs and field trips she helps organize. She also has an amazing, perky personality and a warming smile that, even if she is having a stressful day, makes anyone walking into guidance feel comfortable and welcome. Thank you Mrs. Donahue!
Name: Kim Griest
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Donegal School District
State: Pennsylvania
Nominated By: Lesley Kubisiak
Year: 2011
Name: Alisha Garrity
Grade: Social Studies Department
School: Windsor Locks High School
State: CT
Nominated By: Joshua Robinson
Year: 2011
As part of our Social Studies department, Alisha has done an amazing job since the start of her first year collaborating during PLC time to analyze students’ work, discuss effective teaching strategies to improve student instruction, develop scaffolds to support struggling learners, and use data to drive all of her instruction decisions. Alisha deserves recognition for all of her hard work and focus on student achievement. Students have already begun to make improvements in persuasive writing and gain confidence in their ability to contribute to class. It’s been great to see the SS department collaborate to improve their craft offering and accepting critical feedback. Alisha, thank you for all that you do for our students. We are the Locks!
Name: Jason Qua
Grade: Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator
School: Windsor Locks High School
State: CT
Nominated By: Joshua Robinson
Year: 2011
As part of our Social Studies department, Jason has done an amazing job over this last year collaborating during PLC time to analyze students’ work, discuss effective teaching strategies to improve student instruction, develop scaffolds to support struggling learners, and use data to drive all of his instruction decisions. Jason deserves recognition for all of her hard work and focus on student achievement. Students have already begun to make improvements in persuasive writing and gain confidence in their ability to contribute to class. It’s been great to see the SS department collaborate to improve their craft offering and accepting critical feedback. Jason, thank you for all that you do for our students. We are the Locks!
Name: Joshua Laforge
Grade: Social Studies Department
School: Windsor Locks High School
State: CT
Nominated By: Joshua Robinson
Year: 2011
As part of our Social Studies department, Josh has done an amazing job over this last year collaborating during PLC time to analyze students’ work, discuss effective teaching strategies to improve student instruction, develop scaffolds to support struggling learners, and use data to drive all of his instruction decisions. Josh deserves recognition for all of his hard work and focus on student achievement. Students have already begun to make improvements in persuasive writing and gain confidence in their ability to contribute to class. It’s been great to see the SS department collaborate to improve their craft offering and accepting critical feedback. Josh, thank you for all that you do for our students. We are the Locks!
Name: Barbara Niziolek
Grade: Social Studies Department
School: Windsor Locks Public Schools
State: CT
Nominated By: Joshua Robinson
Year: 2011
As part of our Social Studies department, Barbara has done an amazing job over this last year collaborating during PLC time to analyze students’ work, discuss effective teaching strategies to improve student instruction, develop scaffolds to support struggling learners, and use data to drive all of her instruction decisions. Barb deserves recognition for all of her hard work and focus on student achievement. Students have already begun to make improvements in persuasive writing and gain confidence in their ability to contribute to class. It’s been great to see the SS department collaborate to improve their craft offering and accepting critical feedback. Barbara, thank you for all that you do for our students. We are the Locks!
Name: Reynolds Onderdonk
Grade: Social Studies Teacher
School: Windsor Locks Public Schools
State: CT
Nominated By: Kris Schumacher
Year: 2011
Reynolds Onderdonk cares deeply about his students.  He masterfully uses positive reinforcement to meet the academic and emotional needs of all of his pupils—he lets his students know that he cares about them every single period of every single day.  He is also gifted utilizing differentiation techniques.  Students in Reynolds’s class receive lessons that are individually tailored to their learning needs on a daily basis.  I am lucky and proud to have Reynolds serve as a model for me to mold my teaching practice.  Reynolds has also been a part of the fantastic PLC team working to improve student learning through data-driven decision making and continued professional collaboration.
Name: Dan Copes
Grade: Social Studies Dept
School: Windsor Locks Public Schools
State: CT
Nominated By: Josh Robinson
Year: 2011
Dan Copes has done an amazing job over this last year collaborating during PLC time to analyze students’ work, discuss effective teaching strategies to improve student instruction, develop scaffolds to support struggling learners, and use data to drive all of his instruction decisions. Dan deserves recognition for all of his hard work and focus on student achievement. Students have already begun to make improvements in persuasive writing and gain confidence in their ability to contribute to class. It’s been great to see the SS department collaborate to improve their craft, offering and accepting critical feedback. Dan, thank you for all that you do for our students. We are the Locks!
Name: Kathy Keane
Grade: Math / ELA Teacher
School: Marlboro Central School District
State: New York
Nominated By: Thomas Kulaga, NCSP
Year: 2011
Kathy is an amazing Mathematics and English Language Arts teacher who is loved by students and staff. Kathy always looks for possibilities in her students. Her enthusiasm, professionalism, commitment, and thankfulness are inspiring.
Name: Darrell Vincek
Grade: Principal, Willard Bowman Elementary School
School: Anchorage School District
State: Alaska
Nominated By: Deb Ward
Year: 2011
Darrell has demonstrated a long-term commitment to advocacy on behalf of individual students and school programs that serve children with special needs. He connects personally with students and families and every morning, as he greets children outside of the building when they arrive for school. The complexity of Bowman Elementary requires Darrell to administer four distinct programs, and he is committed to and supportive of every aspect of the Bowman learning community.
Name: Kenya Moore-Kerr
Grade: Assistant Principal
School: Wake County School
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Kokenes
Year: 2011
Kenya works hard each school day to make sure students are successful. She promotes our staff to recognize cultural diversity and is working with Student Support Service to build our capacity for responding to struggling learners. She is all over the building and always has a smile to offer others when challenges arise. You make a positive difference in children's lives.
Name: Kenya Moore-Kerr
Grade: Assistant Principal
School: Wake County School
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Kokenes
Year: 2011
Kenya works hard each school day to make sure students are successful. She promotes our staff to recognize cultural diversity and is working with Student Support Service to build our capacity for responding to struggling learners. She is all over the building and always has a smile to offer others when challenges arise. You make a positive difference in children's lives.
Name: Jeannette Goins
Grade: Teacher/SST Coordinator
School: Wake County Schools
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Kokenes
Year: 2011
Ms. Goins is part of the glue that keeps Carroll Middle School together. She is open to new ideas and is welcoming to all who enter her class. She has a calming effect on students and staff. She is always willing to pitch in to help students become successful. You make a difference, Jeannette!
Name: Jeannette Goins
Grade: Teacher/SST Coordinator
School: Wake County Schools
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Kokenes
Year: 2011
Ms. Goins is part of the glue that keeps Carroll Middle School together. She is open to new ideas and is welcoming to all who enter her class. She has a calming effect on students and staff. She is always willing to pitch in to help students become successful. You make a difference, Jeannette!
Name: Jenifer Simone
Grade: School Nurse
School: Wake County Schools
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Kokenes
Year: 2011
Jen is our totally awesome School Nurse whose personality is uniquely matched to work with middle school students. Thank you Jen for always being there for students and staff that have questions. Thank you for supporting students at Carroll Middle School with medical concerns that often extend to other areas of life. You make a difference in our school!
Name: Donnell McLean
Grade: Assistant Principal
School: Wake County Schools
State: NC
Nominated By: Leigh Kokenes
Year: 2011
Mr. McLean hit the ground running upon entering Carroll Middle School this past summer. His energy for student success is contagious. Since school began he has worked to bring a mentoring program for boys to build leadership skills, been instrumental in starting after-school clubs, overseen the 8th graders, and collaborated with Student Support Services at CMS to help our students be successful, both academically and emotionally. Thank you, Mr. McLean for fostering exceptionally great Carroll Middle School students.
Name: Mindy Pellegata
Grade: School Psychologist
School: Imlay City Community Schools
State: Michigan
Nominated By: Heather Lackey
Year: 2011
Mindy is our industrious psychologist that services three school districts: Almont, Dryden, and Imlay City Community Schools. Despite her hectic schedule, Mindy is committed to work with school teams to improve achievement of all students by working to improve assessments and interventions to prevent learning and behavior problems. She is the ultimate team player and advocate for best practices. Mindy is dedicated to the belief that ALL children can learn.
Name: Jennifer Kortge
Grade: School Social Worker
School: Imlay City Community Schools
State: Michigan
Nominated By: Heather Lackey
Year: 2011
Jennifer is our tireless social worker that services three school districts: Almont, Dryden, and Imlay City Community Schools. Despite an obvious hectic schedule and busy caseload, she has committed to working hard to help implement peer support programs in her districts. By helping to demystify disabilities, Jennifer opens the eyes and hearts of non-disabled students who become helpers and eventually friends with our students with challenges. Jennifer helps students to see all kids as “just kids” like everyone else, who deserve respect and friendship.
Name: Shannon Steenhoek, MA
Grade: School Social Worker
School: Cherry Creek School District
State: Colorado
Nominated By: Erika Joye, PhD, NCSP
Year: 2011
Shannon Steenhoek is the best colleague and friend I could ask for. She goes above and beyond to ensure that each student and family has access to social and emotional education at Village East Elementary. She builds relationships with students and families through home visits, newsletters, classroom intervention, one-on-one counseling, small group intervention, experiential learning, assessment, and many other ways. I have learned so much from working with her. I want to express my deepest gratitude to Ms. Steenhoek.
Name: Julia Ogg
Grade: Ph.D. Professor
School: University of South Florida
State: FL
Nominated By: Sarah Fefer
Year: 2011
Dr. Ogg is an excellent teacher and mentor and her research contributes to the promotion of positive student outcomes. She collaborates with schools and the medical community to promote success for all students.
Name: Kathy Millin
Grade: Director
School: CCSD 15
State: IL
Nominated By: Karlee Quaritsch
Year: 2011
Kathy Millin is the director of the Palatine Opportunity Center in Palatine, IL. She works closely with both the elementary school district and the high school to promote positive outcomes for students, families, and the community. From early childhood services, after school care programs and tutoring, adult education, community involvement to youth and family counseling, the POC embodies the idea that every link matters. It is because of the work done by the POC that students can go to school feeling safe, cared for, and part of a supportive community.
Name: Donna Talerico
Grade: Assistant Superintendent
School: Monongalia County Schools
State: West Virginia
Nominated By: Stephanie Oberly
Year: 2011
Ms. Talerico is administrator for all support services. Under her leadership our school psychology department has almost doubled. Ms. Talerico also has made sure that we have the training and resources needed to perform our varied responsibilities and meet the needs of our diverse student population. Mental health and general health resources, as well as academic resources, are of the utmost importance in her administration.
Name: Karen Hedges
Grade: Counselor/Morgantown High School
School: Monongalia County Schools
State: West Virginia
Nominated By: Stephanie Oberly
Year: 2011
Karent Hedges has been instrumental in establishing the Freshmen Academy at Morgantown High School. Through her tireless efforts, the individual needs of students are recognized in order to identify and access resources that these students need. Personal connections are established among students, their teachers, and their families to promote their high school success.
Name: Ardella Mack
Grade: Principal
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole & Chami Kane
Mrs. Mack is dedicated to helping her school improve so that all students grow academically and behaviorally. She works well with Special Services and community mental health agencies to help students with behavioral challenges receive the interventions and supports they require to be successful.
Name: Evelyn Decker
Grade: Special Education Teacher/Case Manager
School: Anne Arundel County Public Schools
State: Maryland
Nominated By: Heather Gallagher
Ms. Decker is an excellent case manager for students that receive special education services. She places an emphasis on meeting students at their current level of achievement and sees the importance of building a positive relationship with each student. Ms. Decker consistently completes IEPs in a thorough and timely manner. She consults on a regular basis about students’ individual needs, gathers current information, and remains in frequent contact with parents. She supports students’ academic needs and builds in “scaffolding” for them to move forward toward their goals.
Name: Mia Robinson
Grade: Assistant Principal
School: Cherry Creek School District
State: Colorado
Nominated By: Erika Joye
Ms. Robinson is an administrator who is devoted to creating a positive environment within the school and promoting mental health for all students. She co-facilitates a girl's leadership group with the psychologist and social worker. She provides a nurturing and supportive environment for all students and faculty. We are very grateful to have Ms. Robinson at Village East Elementary.
Name: Stacey Tapper
Grade: Special Educacation Teacher
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole & Chami Kane
Stacey is very skilled and creative in her methods of helping each student exhibit his or her best qualities. Her knowledge of behavior intervention facilitates positive outcomes for her students. Her willingness to help her peers address the behavioral needs of their students is exemplary.
Name: Amber Wadsworth
Grade: Speech Pathologist
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole & Chami Kane
Amber uses her knowledge of behavior intervention to help her students improve in their communication as well as their behavior. She serves as a resource to her peers in providing the necessary supports to the children she serves.
Name: Jenna Escudero
Grade: Special Services Director
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole & Chami Kane
Jenna works tirelessly as an advocate for the children she serves. She seeks out federal and state resources needed to implement the necessary programs and to provide quality services to her students. She serves as a mentor to and constant supporter of her staff.
Name: Sharon Davis
Grade: Behavior Specialist
School: Forrest County
State: Mississippi
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole
Mrs. Davis works in a day treatment classroom. She is dedicated and creative in her methods of achieving behavior change in her students and serves as an advocate for these students as they reintegrate into their regular placement.
Name: Karen Vines
Grade: Assistant Principal
School: Forrest County
State: Mississippi
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole
Mrs. Vines is the driving force behind the PBIS efforts within her school. She interacts positively with both her students and staff, supporting and encouraging both.
Name: Angela Lancaster
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Forrest County
State: Mississippi
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole
Mrs. Lancaster has been particularly instrumental in supporting students who are reintegrating from alternative placements. She is always willing to help her students and their families in any way that she can. She can always be counted on to exhibit a positive attitude!
Name: Stacey Sweeney
Grade: 4th Grade Teacher
School: Cherry Creek School District
State: Colorado
Nominated By: Erika joye
Ms. Sweeney is a teacher who goes above and beyond to create a caring community in her classroom. She starts each day in her classroom with a community meeting including music, sharing of feelings, and a celebration of diversity. She has incredible relationships with parents, teachers, administrators, and children. It is a gift to work with Ms. Sweeney every day.
Name: Teri Cramer
Grade: Teacher
School: Anne Arundel County
State: MD
Nominated By: Marie Corriveau
Mrs. Cramer collaborates closely to support the mental health of particular students. She is a dedicated and caring teacher with high expectations for her students. She fosters and builds characteristics of empathy and self-efficacy in her students, which enables them to treat others with respect and empowers them to reach their goals.
Name: Beth Hopkins
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole
Beth is dedicated to helping her Day Treatment students grow behaviorally and academically. She builds positive relationships with these children and their families, working hard to link them with the supports they require. She is willing to do what it takes to help her Day Treatment students overcome academic deficits, so that they can achieve in their regular classroom.
Name: Amy Lee
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole & Chami Kane
Amy has time after time been able to overcome obstacles that in the past have prevented her students from achieving academic success. She inspires her students to continue achieving!
Name: Dana Smith
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole & Chami Kane
Dana's work with her students who have severe cognitive impairments has repeatedly amazed her colleagues. She helps foster positive relationships with these students and strives to improve their social and behavioral abilities.
Name: Kelly Lambert
Grade: Principal
School: Forrest County School District
State: MS
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole & Chami Kane
Mr. Lambert has been a pivotal force behind PBS in his school. He is supportive of his teachers while also working with parents to help his students reach success.
Name: Gabe Engel
Grade: Elementary Principal
School: Western Beaver County
State: PA
Nominated By: Eric Palmer
Gabe brings high energy and great ideas everyday.
Name: Tanya Sanders
Grade: Secretary
School: Wake County Public Schools
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Ashlee Taylor
“East Wake Guidance,” is how you’ll hear her answer the phone every time it rings. Ms. Tanya Sanders is the guidance secretary for the four small schools of East Wake High School and is a prime example of caring, respect, & engagement. She responds to student & staff requests quickly. She recognizes the needs of students & seeks the appropriate resources they need. She is a trusted adult whom students seek as she shows interest in their school and outside lives. She helps make EWHS a positive place to work & learn!
Name: Donna Stephens
Grade: Executive Director, Hospice
School:
State: Alaska
Nominated By: Joan Bohmann, Deb Ward & Mary DuHoux
Donna Stephens started the Forget-Me-Not program to address the needs of children who are grieving. She has been instrumental in reaching out to support children in need. She also has helped to train many school psychologists and others in the community to work with children and grief issues.
Name: Pam Smith
Grade: Exceptional Children's Resource Teacher
School: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Cotswold Elementary School
Mrs. Smith assisted another staff member whose son is stationed in South Korea. The staff member was having a "mother moment" in which she had not heard from her son for an extended period. Mrs. Smith contacted a family member who was able to assist.
Name: Gina Glover
Grade: SLP
School: Fort Worth ISD
State: Texas
Nominated By: Dr. Laura Sanders
Ms. Glover is an outstanding contributor to the lives of students served through special education in this district. Through her work with newly trained SLPs and her dedication to her own school, Ms. Glover does all that she can to ensure that each child reaches his or her potential and is served ethically and appropriately. As a member of this team, I am grateful for her hard work, dedication, and support.
Name: Misty Collier
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Fort Worth ISD
State: Texas
Nominated By: Dr. Laura Sanders
In working with Misty over the past year, I have noticed that she is a tireless advocate for the rights of special education students. I would like to recognize this work and commend her on her dedication.
Name: Stephanie Lawrence
Grade: Teacher
School: Anne Arundel County Public Schools
State: Maryland
Nominated By: Heather Gallagher
Ms. Lawrence is an outstanding teacher. She builds relationships with students and modifies instructional materials to students' ability level. Ms. Lawrence engages in regular communication with parents. Numerous parents have expressed their gratitude for her concern regarding their child's needs. She also collaborates with support personnel and demonstrates compassion for her students' academic, social, and emotional well being. Ms. Lawrence recognizes the individual needs of students and encourages students to meet challenges.
Name: Julia Sutherland
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Forrest County
State: Mississippi
Nominated By: Lauren Harpole
Mrs. Sutherland teaches students in a day treatment classroom. She works tirelessly to help her student's achieve academic and behavioral growth and serves as a constant supporter and advocate for these students and their families.
Name: Heather Gigliotti
Grade: Learning Specialist
School: Berkley School District
State: Michigan
Nominated By: Heather Lackey
Heather Gigliotti is a model champion for kids. She is working hard not only to further her knowledge about best practices in student achievement, but she is actively engaging in discussion with other “departments” – special education, administration, etc. Despite the bumps in the road while creating a better Berkley learning environment for ALL kids, Heather moves forward. She has the ability to look through the eyes of our students when making critical intervention decisions.
Name: Dana Smith
Grade: School Counselor
School: Anne Arundel County Public Schools
State: Maryland
Nominated By:
Name: Amy Clarke
Grade: Teacher
School: Anne Arundel County Public Schools
State: Maryland
Nominated By:
Name: Cheryl Lindley
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Special School District-Rockwood
State: Missouri
Nominated By: Casie Blount
This teacher works collaboratively with other educators to ensure that all students make progress and are happy and learning at school. She is extremely caring and dedicated to the students and families she works with.
Name: Kathleen Sterns
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Special School District-Rockwood
State: Missouri
Nominated By: Casie Blount
This teacher works collaboratively with other educators to ensure that all students make progress and are happy and learning at school. She is extremely caring and dedicated to the students and families she works with.
Name: Juliet Schoemehl
Grade: Kindergarten Teacher
School: Rockwood School District
State: Missouri
Nominated By: Casie Blount
Julie is an amazing teacher,she is relentless in finding out what works for every child in her class. The students in her class learn not only their "ABC's" but how to function in a school and be a good friend. She is constantly going the extra mile to make sure every child in her class is successful socially and academically. The best part is that you never see her sweat!
Name: Stephanie Lombardo
Grade: General Education Teacher
School: Rockwood School District
State: Missouri
Nominated By: Casie Blount
Stephanie is an amazing teacher, she cares so deeply for every child in her class regardless of their behavior or successes. She is not afraid to seek out and find new and worthwhile interventions that are specific to each child. She truly understands that children learn at their own pace and in their own way, and she figures out how to create and measure successes for the kids in her class. She is not only dedicated to her class, but she goes the extra mile to help other teachers in her building find success. She never gives up on a child!
Name: Dr. Treesomia Walker
Grade: Coordinator of Educational Initiatives
School: Lamar County School System
State: Georgia
Nominated By: Student Services Department
Dr. Walker has been instrumental in beginning an alternative program for middle school and high school students. This program incorporates computer-based instruction, small-group counseling, service learning, job shadowing, and individual assistance. Last school year several students were able to graduate who would have been drop-outs without this program. Dr. Walker is an inspiration to others in the school system and community.
Name: April Smith
Grade: Director, EP Roberts Center
School: Lamar County
State: Georgia
Nominated By: Student Services Department
Ms. Smith is the director of a community center. She manages an after-school program and summer program. In addition, she helps to organize many community events throughout the year. Some of the recent community events include the following: Lights on After School, Back to School Bash, Community Organizing Discussions, Parenting Classes, and AIDS Awareness. Ms. Smith volunteers the use of the EP Roberts Center to community organizations, church groups, and government agencies. Ms. Smith always goes above and beyond the call of duty to make sure Lamar County youth have the best possible opportunities.
Name: Jack Lindsey, Ph.D.
Grade: School Psychologist
School: Denver Public Schools
State: Colorado
Nominated By: Kerri Rothanzl
Jack Lindsey has made significant contributions to the field of school psychology both through his work at the state/district level and with individual students. His expertise and support as a supervisor is invaluable to my training as a future school psychologist.
Name: Lavon Barrett
Grade: Secretary
School: Wake County Public Schools
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Ashlee Taylor
Four schools! One Spirit! Warrior Pride! It started with this mantra on afternoon announcements. It soon became a school wide effort to increase school spirit. Ms. Barrett & Ms. Murray took the bull by the horns and helped our school find their spirit. She often wears her EWHS gear & encourages others to do the same. She creates displays that emphasize all the activities at EWHS allowing staff to see ways to further support their students. She is available to students & models caring, engagement, & respect. She highlights our school’s success. She helps make EWHS a positive place to work & learn
Name: Lynne Murray
Grade: Secretary
School: Wake County Public Schools
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Ashlee Taylor
Four schools! One Spirit! Warrior Pride! It started with this mantra on afternoon announcements. It soon became a school wide effort to increase school spirit. Ms. Murray & Ms. Barrett took the bull by the horns & helped our school find their spirit. She wears her EWHS gear & encourages others to do the same. She helps students get to class promptly after coming in on a late bus or a doctor’s appointment. She helps direct parents to the personnel they need to help their student. She is available to students & models caring, engagement, & respect. She helps make EWHS a positive place to work & learn
Name: Steve Wellendorf
Grade: High School Principal
School: Western Beaver County School District
State: PA
Nominated By: Eric Palmer
Steve's flexibility, creativity, and leadership has helped meet the individual needs of many students.
Name: Randy Clutts
Grade: Physical Education Teacher
School: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
State: North Carolina
Nominated By: Cotswold Elementary School
Mr. Clutts planned, organized, and coordinated an afterschool event for students, family, and staff. The event was to promote health, socialization, and just plain fun.
Name: Tara Bowers
Grade: School Counselor
School: Charlotte Mecklenburg
State: NC
Nominated By: Randy Clutts
Ms. Bowers' professionalism with staff, students, and parents is above and beyond. As a new staff member, she is very knowledgeable of all the children at Cotswold. When asked for suggestions, Ms. Bowers gives very practical suggestions. Parents are seeking her out for assistance in parenting. She is making a difference in the students' lives.
Name: Barbara Helm
Grade: Esceptional Children's Resource Teacher
School: Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
State: NC
Nominated By: Pam Smith
Ms. Helm "goes to the summit to help students and staff". Her knowledge and exertise of working with students with learning differences provides the staff and parents a valuable resource. She is a teacher for both students and staff. The faculty frequently seeks her out for assistance for students in the general education classroom.
Name: Barbara Clarke
Grade: Special Education Teacher
School: Cherry Hill
State: NJ
Nominated By: Terry Molony
Barbara is an extraordinary teacher who works hard to reach every student. She finds ways to motivate students so they become engaged in lessons that are difficult. Parents of her students often shed tears of joy at how she has profoundly affected their lives by teaching them to read.