Dixie Periman, Coordinator of Special Education for Cherry Creek Schools, will receive the State “People First” Award from the Colorado Special Education Advisory Committee (CSEAC) during a celebration on April 15. The “People First” Award is given to individuals who have demonstrated the “People First” philosophy while working with Colorado students with special needs.
“People First” means the individual goes above and beyond to make a difference in another person’s life, recognizing a person as an individual first before seeing a disability. “People First” language puts the individual first and the descriptor second (e.g., a person with autism, not an autistic person).
Periman has served students with both special needs and severe needs throughout her 30-year career with Cherry Creek Schools. She started as a Special Education teacher at Overland High School then established the CCSD Transition Program, which serves students with special needs who are between the ages of 18 and 21. The Transition Program initially served 10 students and now serves more than 100. Periman is now the Coordinator of Special Education for Cherry Creek Schools.
“Dixie's entire life's work to date has been dedicated to supporting and celebrating individuals with special needs,” said Katie Brauns, a CCSD occupational therapist. “Leading by example she has inspired countless teachers and therapists to respect, support and promote the students we serve.”
“Dixie’s compassion reaches all students. She wants the best for every single student with disabilities,” said Linda Snelgrove, an ILC teacher at Grandview High School. “She is passionate about our students becoming all they can be and developing programs to see their needs are met. Many students have found employment due to the programs she oversees. Dixie wants every student to have a voice including those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Periman has also spent more than 20 years serving as a volunteer and basketball coach for Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO). She was named SOCO’s Volunteer of the Month in October 2012.
The “People First” award is nicknamed the “Eddy” in honor of Dr. Ed Steinberg, former executive director of Student Achievement Services in Cherry Creek Schools. Each year, CSEAC presents the “People First” award to an individual who is retiring. Periman will retire at the end of the school year.
She says leaving will be bittersweet. “There is never a good time to leave the position and people you love.......it becomes the right time." And she shared this quote from Margaret Mead; Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.”
Posted February 3, 2014.