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Governor's Council on Disabilities and Special Education

2019 Inclusive Practice Award/Paraeducator of the Year Award 2019


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2019 Winners ​
Special Education Team of IDEA, the Interior Distance Education of Alaska program of the Galena City School District. The team members are: Debbie Lockard, Leanne Grover, Crystal Ison, Shirley Kempski, Barb Laucius, and Merian Werth.
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2019 Paraeducator Winner ​
Tesh Miller-Gray from Hoonah City School District.
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2018 Winners ​
Ben Griese and Nicole Wagner
Chief Ivan Blunka School in New Stuyahok, Southwest Region School District
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2017 Winners ​
Service High School Partners Club
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2016 Winners ​
Nikiski Middle/High School Intensive Needs Team, 
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2015 Winners
KeetGooshi Heen 
Elementary School in Sitka,   
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2014 Winners
Monica Stockburger and Homer High School Intensive Needs Classroom staff

2019 Inclusive Practice Award Winner:

The Inclusive Practice Award 2019 went to the Special Education Team of IDEA, the Interior Distance Education of Alaska program of the Galena City School District. The team members are: Debbie Lockard, Leanne Grover, Crystal Ison, Shirley Kempski, Barb Laucius, and Merian Werth. They created a statewide home school program that allows a student to be included in the entire community. This dedicated team of educators works together to focus on making all parts of home and community-based education accessible and meaningful for students with disabilities. The goal of inclusion is to ensure that Special Education students are educated with typically-achieving age peers. The IDEA Special Education Team does that in an organic way, because all students choose the clubs and academic activities they are interested in. The IDEA Special Education Team goes further and makes sure that their students are also included in the entire community.

For a presentation that demonstrates why the winners of the Inclusive Practice Award 2019, Special Education Team of the Interior Distance Education of Alaska program of the Galena City School District, are exceptional, click here.

2019 Inclusive Practice Award Nominees

2019 Paraeducator Award

The Paraeducator of the Year Award 2019 was given to Tesh Miller-Gray, from Hoonah City School District. Ms. Miller-Gray has worked in a rural, remote area of Alaska for over 20 years in her district. She takes the time to engage each parent and regular education teacher of their student's speech and/or language goals, corrects and models on the spot in the classroom, making herself available in an inclusive environment. She adapts classroom curriculum and reading expectations within speech and language goals and overlaps real world experiences from literally planting seeds to harvesting gardens, infusing social language with play based-activities, includes hygiene and etiquette, preparing students for structures of prep programs, and she participates within the physical education environment to build language skills. Her goal is to move our students from one-to-one direct services in a quiet environment for practice of each skill, and then to monitor her students in a social and classroom setting. The district reports seeing steady progress because Ms. Miller-Gray’s teaching abilities, and her firm, direct, and creative support of each student. It is important to Ms. Miller-Gray to give her students the responsibility to understand and take an active part to surpass their current functional abilities and goals. Infusing reading, comprehension, dyslexia models, art, music, bubbles, gross and fine motor therapies, with creative speech therapies all develop learner's self-esteem, work ethic and build's self-reliance.  She seeks out professional development on her own, and shares what she learns with school staff. In the words of a former student, she is “much-loved in our community”.

For a visual celebration of Ms. Miller-Gray’s achievements in the Hoonah City Schools, click here​.

The Governor’s Council was honored to have a message from Dr. Michael Johnson, Commissioner of Education and Early Development, congratulating the winners at the Awards Luncheon of the Alaska Statewide Special Education Conference, at the Anchorage Hilton, on February 25, 2019. To hear Commissioner Johnson’s message, praising the work of Ms. Tesh Miller-Gray and the IDEA Special Education Team.

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