Five innovative special education programs that were recognized by the New Jersey School Boards Association and ASAH as Innovations in Special Education award winners were honored at a New Jersey Special Education Advisory Council Stakeholder meeting in Trenton on June 8.
The winners are:
- Neptune Township Regional Deaf Education Program, Neptune Township Regional School District.
- Power Mobility Program, P.G. Chambers School, Cedar Knolls.
- Safety Ambassador Program, New Road School of Somerset.
- Social Behavioral Support Program, Marlton Elementary School, Evesham Township School District.
- Woodglen’s Lost and Found Program, Woodglen School, Lebanon Township School District.
The awards ceremony took place following NJSBA’s and ASAH’s joint celebration of Special Education Week, which was held from May 14 to May 20.
Dr. Karen Cortellino, NJSBA president; Irene LeFebvre, immediate past president of NJSBA; and John Burns, senior legislative counsel, attended the meeting in person to represent NJSBA and honor the recipients.
“In 1985, the New Jersey School Boards Association and ASAH, established the annual Special Education Week celebration to acknowledge the commitment of teachers, administrators, board members and parents for their hard work and support of special education,” Cortellino said. “But most of all, it is a time to recognize the achievement of our students.”
She noted that this year’s winners are “truly amazing” before adding, “Today, I think of the students who have worked so hard and accomplished so much; their parents and educators who have provided the support these children need, and say, well done!”
LeFebvre, who chaired NJSBA’s Special Education Committee for many years before serving as the Association’s president – and who has also had the pleasure of serving as a judge for the annual Innovations in Special Education awards, noted that there are “many, many committed individuals in our state implementing exciting programs for these very special children.” She added, “These awards also present us with the opportunity to recognize the families who are so supportive of their children’s educational progress – and also the children themselves, who are working so hard to achieve their goals.”
At the meeting, Mulholland noted that “recognition matters” – and stories matter, too. By hearing the stories featured in the congratulatory video, he said he hoped that it would encourage others to go back to their districts to spread innovation.
The video produced by NJSBA, features Dr. Timothy Purnell, executive director and CEO of the NJSBA, and John Mulholland Jr., executive director of ASAH, which has been serving the special education community since 1974, announcing and congratulating the 2023 winners.
In the video, Purnell noted that the contest drew enthusiasm from throughout the state, with 59 public and private schools submitting entries. Commenting on Special Education Week, he noted, “It’s a time when we recognize the achievements of the state’s special education students, the work of their teachers and the support of parents and school officials.”
He also thanked the judges who decided the winners:
- Elaine Lerner, who retired from the New Jersey Department of Education and is now a consultant.
- Theresa Lewis, a field service representative with NJSBA.
- Lisa Marshall, an NJSBA special education committee chair and a member of the Warren Hills Board of Education.
- Sean Murphy, principal of the Matheny School.
- Patricia Rees, a field service representative with NJSBA.
Get more details about each of the winning programs and hear from the winning schools by watching the video.
Several representatives from winning schools were at the meeting to celebrate in person along with others who attended online.