Friday, June 24, 2016

SNAColades Awarded for 2015-16

The Special Needs Advisory Council (SNAC) created SNAColades to honor Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools staff who, through their hard work and creativity, make our children’s school experience more meaningful.  The following have been selected for this recognition based on the testimonials of the Exceptional Children community.  Below each name is a quote from an appreciative parent or CHCCS administrator (where noted).

Ephesus Elementary
Francheska Terry, EC Teacher Assistant
Francheska has been an EC teaching assistant at Ephesus Elementary School for over 5 years and demonstrates a genuine commitment to her work. She has a positive attitude and is always willing to lend a helping hand. Francheska goes above and beyond our expectations to support students with special needs and makes positive contributions to the Ephesus School community on a daily basis.  (nominated by Danielle Sutton, assistant principal, Ephesus Elementary)

Group Award
All of the teachers, staff and therapists at Ephesus Elementary have been amazing. They all work to help our student stick to his schedule and behave appropriately and learn the most that he can with patience and encouragement.  They are: Casey Symonds, Theresa Kanu, Kim Ellison, Ruth Morgan, Pamela Shiers, Tamika Harris, Natasha Khadka, Alicia Osisek, Jennifer Dykes, Christine Sion, and MANY others that I am leaving out.

Estes Hills Elementary
Claire Rizzo, EC Teacher and the Estes Hills Teacher of the Year for 2016-17
Claire Rizzo is a dedicated and passionate resource teacher at Estes Hills Elementary.  A model of grit and growth mindset, Claire is unwilling to let any child fall through the cracks and will stop at nothing to make sure the needs of every student are met.  Claire Rizzo is a shining example of the attributes all teachers should possess.  Estes Hills is proud to have this loving and compassionate teacher as a staff member! (nominated by Drew Ware, principal, Estes Hills Elementary)

McDougle Elementary
Delia Hudson, Speech-Language Pathologist
Ms. Delia Hudson at McDougle Elementary is our favorite!!!  She is always available and she is always eager to help/explain.  Thank you all EC team!!!  You are all truly amazing people!

Breanna Jansa, EC Teacher Assistant
Ms. Breanna was very instrumental in the successful transition of teachers in our classroom.  She is the most patient and kind teacher.  She will be very missed next year.

Maggie Pearce, EC Teacher
Ms. Pearce is a wonderful teacher.  She has excellent leadership skills.  She has created a warm, relaxed and organized environment for our kids to learn.  She has enormous compassion for our kids and dedication for teaching.  She has demonstrated poise and grace during very difficult circumstances in class.  We are so lucky to have Ms. Pearce as our teacher.

Northside Elementary
Amy Brande, Teacher
Amy is an amazing woman and truly demonstrates caring for "unique" children with a loving and compassionate zeal.  She works humbly and tediously to make sure that each child has the opportunity to participate and learn in a safe and caring setting.  Amy has one of the most challenging roles as a teacher and she excels in that role with grace and purpose.  Amy loves my child and truly cares about him.  We love her for that kind of dedication and authenticity.

Claudette, Karie and Pedro, Teacher Assistants for Amy Brande
We have the highest regard for the support staff for our son's teacher.  They work tirelessly to make sure our son is cared for and monitored throughout his time at school.  Our son needs to have constant oversight and supervision during the day.  These dedicated professionals have shown great kindness, patience and care while working with our son.  They genuinely care about him and he knows that they love him.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

Rashkis Elementary
Krista Lee, Teacher
For her unwavering support and advocacy. Best teacher ever!

Scroggs Elementary
Crystal Epps, Principal
Ms. Epps is a remarkable principal who takes the time to listen to parents and to teachers to help them achieve the best for their children.  She has been exceptionally supportive of both of my children with special needs, as we have navigated some difficult situations.  I have also seen her attending SNAC meetings (in the evening, even when she doesn’t “have to” be there) which is further proof of her commitment to those with special needs.

Sarah Newman, First Grade Teacher
Ms. Newman had a tough task of taking over a classroom when the prior excellent teacher - Ms. Norris - had to leave in November 2015 for a different position in the school district.  All of the parents were anxious about who this new, young teacher would be (and we asked how will she handle our special needs child?). Ms. Newman has demonstrated that although she is young, she is exceptional at teaching all children, including our special needs children.  She demonstrates great organization, excitement for teaching as well as compassion and understanding.  Our son, who has had some behavioral challenges this year, is extremely fond of her - she does a wonderful job motivating the students to learn. We’d like her to know she has made a big difference in our lives.

Sandy Scheuermann, EC Teacher
This is the second year that Sandy has been my son’s EC teacher.  She is fantastic to work with, always advocating for what’s best for the student, and incredibly insightful and communicative, as well as highly dedicated to her profession.  We are grateful for her support, and for what she&’s taught us and taught our son.

Hannah Stang, Third Grade Teacher
Ms. Stang has performed remarkably this year teaching my son, who is on the autism spectrum.  She has demonstrated a high level of warmth and acceptance for my son’s disability, which in turn allowed him to excel and perform remarkably well.  Ms. Stang is communicative, utilizing a weekly newsletter as well as an app that sends photos and videos to parents regularly.  While this communication may seem “nice” or “helpful” to parents of neurotypical children, it is enormously, highly appreciated for parents with an autistic child, as these children’s ability to share anything about their day (or any social information) is greatly lacking.  Therefore, Ms. Stang helps us parents to better understand the classroom dynamics so that we can better support our SN child and to help him thrive. We believe it is her exceptional organizational skills as well as her magical personality that makes a huge difference in our children’s lives.

Seawell Elementary
Kate Kennedy, AIG Teacher
Nobody “gets” our twice-exceptional child quite like Kate Kennedy.  She has a tremendous depth of understanding about both gifted children and children with disabilities - and how those facets intersect in a 2e student.  Her guidance and support have been invaluable, starting before our son even entered Kindergarten.  She is truly a gem!

Lisle Pearman, Program Facilitator (PF)
Lisle is everything you would want your PF to be.  As a former EC teacher, she truly understands what our students need to be successful, and is committed to ensuring that the right tools are in place.  She is compassionate, respectful, organized, and a pleasure to work with in an IEP meeting.  We feel very fortunate that she is our son’s PF.

Marny Ruben, Principal
Principal Ruben sets a tone at Seawell where every student “belongs” to every member of the staff, and children are truly valued.  I have been particularly appreciative of how she dove into planning for Disability Awareness Month in October to make the program a great success.  She is always approachable and willing to hear new ideas and requests, and has been an excellent partner for me as both a parent and a SNAC rep.

Culbreth Middle
Jessica Cox, EC Teacher
Ms. Jess has many awesome qualities as an EC teacher but I will touch on one - communication.  We get a short note just about everyday letting us know how the day went and what went on in the class or what might go on the next day.  Ms. Jess also emails, calls and texts whenever necessary, keeping parents updated on the good, as well as the not so good.  The lines of communication are open and I feel like I can contact her at any time as well.  Kudos to Jessica Cox!

Phillips Middle
Jack Pileggi, EC Teacher (long-term substitute)
Jack jumped in to this position mid-year and provided excellent support for my son.  In addition to providing support for my son’s regular education classwork, he also took initiative to provide remedial education for my son that will now be incorporated into his IEP.

Kaleigh Vogan, EC Teacher
Kaleigh continues to strive to provide the best education for the special needs students she serves.  While having her workload increased mid-year, she took on this challenge and provided excellent care for the students under her charge.  She is innovative, organized, and collaborative.  She is an excellent role model for others.

Katherine Whittington, Math Teacher
Ms. Whittington is a mainstream math teacher who goes the extra mile to make sure that all of her students learn to love math.  My son has always feared math and was extremely resistant to any math work.  Ms. Whittington adapted the math curriculum to make it fun and interesting.  She is a very skilled teacher and has had enormous impact on many students.  We are very lucky to have her at Phillips.

Smith Middle
April Ferguson, Social Studies Teacher and the Smith Middle Teacher of the Year for 2016-17
Ms. Ferguson has been exceptionally responsive in working with our special needs child, taking care to reach out and ask us questions, get to know our child, and make suggestions about how he can engage in the classroom in a way that is most comfortable for him.

Marianne Henderson, Teacher and Carmen Liggins, Teacher Assistant
Ms. Henderson and Ms. Liggins always go above and beyond what is required and have survived most of the year without another aide in the class.  They smile and help the kids in the class reach their potential.  They are most always smiling and helping.  They have had aides not work out (i.e. not show up to work for weeks), and many subs throughout the year, currently with a long term aide sub.  They certainly deserve a shout out and so much more.

Phil Holmes, Principal
Phil Holmes has gone the extra mile for our child with special needs in so many ways: He is open to learning about his needs, he is communicative, and he takes a personal interest in his development.  He calls us not just on bad days but on good ones, too.  He is one of our child’s favorite things about his school and his life.  He has so many kids and teachers to be responsible for, and yet he takes time out of his day and his tremendous responsibilities to check in on our kid.  He is an exceptional example of how to work with special needs kids and their families.

Abby Steen, PE Teacher
PE can be a very difficult class for kids with special needs, and Ms. Steen has made it her business to send our family a schedule each week, work with our kid’s particularities, and remain good-humored and flexible.  We so appreciate her!

Chapel Hill High
Janet Willey, Teacher
Janet Willey was so kind and supportive with our 2e son his first year in high school, and seemed to understand dyslexia well, which was such a relief, as it is often rare to find someone who does.  She helped him get his accommodations provided in his one classroom where they were not.  Sadly, she got ill and left early in the year, but we very much appreciated her support for the short time that we had it.