They may not be faster than a speeding bullet or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but they are superheroes nonetheless. With super powers such as empathy, compassion and generosity, they are remarkable people who make a difference in the lives of Cherry Creek Schools students with special needs.
Sixteen superheroes were honored at the 12th Annual Golden Heart Awards Dinner, held May 29 at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center. This touching event is sponsored by the Cherry Creek Schools Special Education Advisory Committee.
See the 2014 Golden Heart Awards Superheroes photo album on the Cherry Creek Schools Facebook page.
The event honors people like Mary Pratt, an Assets teacher at Creekside Elementary who organized a sports program called Red Shirt Rookies for students with and without special needs.
“Our ILC students received a gift of time with other children and caring adults along with a beautifully organized opportunity to play games in a relaxed and fun setting,” said Creekside Principal Kelly Sommerfeld. “The smiles on their faces spoke volumes about the joy these after school sessions brought to them. With the opportunity to work and play with our ILC students, our regular education students also received a gift of time; time with their ILC peers, and chances to play games they might not have otherwise been able to play.”
Among the Golden Heart Award recipients are three students: Alan Brian Abilal and Kathryn Anne LaForte, both students at Falcon Creek Middle School, and Brandon Jackson, a student at Eaglecrest High School, who were honored for their work with ILC students and their efforts to foster a spirit of acceptance and inclusion in their schools.
Paul Escobedo is a districtwide bus aide in the Cherry Creek Schools Transportation Department. Teacher Sharon Cannon said she has never worked with a bus aide as caring, supportive, loving or amazing as Paul.
“Paul has the most calm, caring demeanor,” said Cannon. “One of my students wanted to try to drive and park his wheelchair on the bus independently. It took only a week for this student to achieve his independence because of Paul.”
After receiving his award, Escobedo said the real superheroes are the students with special needs. “You’re all superheroes to me!” he exclaimed.
Congratulations to all of the 2014 Golden Heart Award recipients:
• Alan Brian Abilal, Student, Falcon Creek Middle School
• Sarah Black, First Grade Teacher, Mission Viejo Elementary
• John Brewer, Social Worker, Prairie Middle School
• Paul Escobedo, Transportation, Districtwide
• Sarah Famularo, ILC Teacher, Willow Creek Elementary
• Brenda L. Haynes, Para-educator, Eastridge Elementary
• Brandon Jackson, Student, Eaglecrest High School
• Kathryn Anne LaForte, Student, Falcon Creek Middle School
• Mary Pratt, Assets Teacher, Creekside Elementary School
• Monica Reno, ILC Teacher, Ponderosa Elementary
• Stacie Saladin, Para-educator, Antelope Ridge Elementary
• Eva Tucker, ILC Teacher, Fox Ridge Middle School
• Rodney Valenzuela, School Resource Officer, West Middle School
• Garrett D. Weekley, Seventh Grade Teacher, Campus Middle School
• Judy Wiepert Dickson, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, District wide
• Dixie Periman, Coordinator of Special Education
In addition to hosting the Golden Heart Awards Dinner, the Special Education Advisory Committee works to create and strengthen partnerships between parents, Cherry Creek Schools, and community agencies by providing a forum that promotes education, advocacy, networking and collective problem solving. SEAC is open to parents, staff, community members and anyone interested in working side-by-side with Cherry Creek Schools to make a difference in the lives of students with special needs. For more information about SEAC, visit http://www.ccsd.k12.co.us/SpecEdAdvisoryCommittee/.
Posted June 2, 2014.