New Voices is a local non-profit with a mission to help children with severe communication and physical challenges maximize their learning potential. The ultimate goal of New Voices is inclusion in all aspects of life. The Lara Jane Parker Awards Program was established to provide both reward and recognition to those outstanding teachers, therapists, parents, education and health professionals and leaders who work daily to improve the lives of New Voices children. These individuals help improve their schools and their communities in ways that will allow these children to be fully included in all aspects of their daily lives.
The award for excellence recognizes individuals from the Alamance/Burlington, Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange, Wake counties school districts and the Chapel Hill—Carrboro City Schools, who have direct instructional or therapeutic contact with a school-aged child (or children) with communication and physical challenges.
Kara VanHooser, a speech language pathologist at McDougle Elementary School, is one of three winners of the 2017 Award for Excellence. Kara has over 20 years of experience and serves as the Exceptional Children’s team lead. Kara is proactive in engaging a child’s whole team, including families, private therapists and physicians to meet the student’s communication and other needs. She invites local and state politicians to meet her students and to understand their challenges. She maintains regular contact with them to discuss the issues that affect her students.
Kara received her Masters of Science in Speech/Language Pathology from James Madison University. She was nominated by Delia Hudson, her peer speech language pathologist, working at McDougle Elementary School. She will be honored at a ceremony on April 19 at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill.