Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Georgetown SEPAC Congratulates Our Shining Star Award Winners

The Georgetown SEPAC Congratulates Our
Shining Star Award Winners
June 14th, 2011 –
The Georgetown Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) was pleased this year to offer the Shining Star Award for Georgetown School District employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in teaching, serving, supporting, helping, reaching out to, and inspiring our children with special needs over this last school year. In short, this award is for those who are making an outstanding difference.

The parents of the Georgetown SEPAC feel fortunate to have so many talented and caring school staff members in who come in day after day to help, connect with, learn from, and teach our children! Working together, they have enabled our children to feel cared for and successful, each in their own special way, at school.

With this award, parents show their sincere appreciation of the Georgetown school staff’s excellence in teaching, hard work and persistence, and caring that helps build solid relationships with our children every day. From them, our children discover the joy of learning in school!

Our award winners have been selected by the special education parents of Georgetown, who submitted a description of how these people have supported our children.

How do our stars in Georgetown shine? How do they make such an important impact in our children’s lives? Parents have said they are particularly grateful for school staff who:
- show compassion
- demonstrate commitment
- believe in our children
- always have time for every student
- listen to every student
- have an open-door policy
- are fierce and terrific advocates for kids
- really understand our kids, just get it
- help our kids not to feel so alone
- help students to turn the corner
- make a tremendous difference in our student’s lives
- provide truly amazing caregiving
- give extra academic and social support
- show our kids what worthy individuals they are
- learn all they can about our children
- help recover our children’s self-esteem
- show our children a bright future
- open the door to discovery
- give your students another chance every day
- dedicate themselves to finding students’ strengths and abilities

We wish to extend our hearty CONGRATULATIONS to this year's recipients, who are:
- David Dempsey, Director of Special Education
- William Adams, Special Needs Teacher, HS
- Jean Neble, Special Needs Teacher, HS
- Eileen Lee, Special Education Administrator, GMHS
- Veronica Shafer, Special Education Teacher, MS
- Marylee Murray, Special Needs Teacher, Penn Brook
- Michelle Dolcimascolo, Special Education Aide, Penn Brook

David Dempsey spoke about how the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) Program the Language-Based Learning Program, and the Social-Emotional Programs have all come a long way this year, with significant contributions to and help from parents with constructive ideas. Two specific areas for focus next year by the Special Education Department will be further development of the Language-Based Learning Program, and building a student, staff and parent community that will act as a safety net for youth at risk. All youth, by nature are at risk, but special education children are especially at risk, with both external peer (bullying) dynamics and their own internal self-esteem struggles that come along with the academic obstacles they meet every day at school. District-wide teacher development will continue through the summer months, to help teachers understand and effectively instruct our students with special needs.

Several ideas for how the Georgetown SEPAC could help our parent and school community were discussed by both parents and staff present:
- Finding a speaker to give a presentation on ADHD, and how to help our ADHD children at school and at home. Principal Margaret Maher said that she would like to help in finding and coordinating such a presentation.
- Helping to establishing a Best Buddies Chapter in Georgetown. See and find Best Buddies Massachusetts on Facebook! Best Buddies is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Scott Conte, an eighth grade student, is currently in communication with Best Buddies to initiate the process. Way to go, Scott!
- Fundraising next year, possibly in collaboration with the Georgetown PTA. An event-oriented fundraiser and Pampered Chef were both suggested.
- Veronica Shaeffer suggested that the PAC fund a class trip to Jimmy K’s (as a reward for the kids) during the next year. The PAC can certainly consider such requests; a proposal with specifics was requested.

By Pam Lundquist, Georgetown SEPAC, Chairperson