Eighteen people who “give with a golden heart” were honored at the 10th Annual Golden Heart Awards Dinner, held May 31 at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center. Sponsored by the Cherry Creek Schools Special Education Advisory Committee, this touching event honors people who make a difference in the lives of children with special needs.
People like Ashley DeBoer, an eighth-grader at Falcon Creek Middle School, who, for the past three years, has volunteered to work with fellow students who have autism.
“Ashley is fabulous with our kids!” said Autism teacher Becky Gordon, when she nominated DeBoer for the Golden Heart Award. “She works on communication, turn-taking and social skills with them. She sits next to them at lunch and introduces them to her friends.”
Honoree Weston Music is a bus assistant in the Cherry Creek Schools Transportation Department, who makes sure special needs students get to and from school safely and comfortably. He gets to know all of his students personally and even learned sign language so he could communicate with a student who is deaf.
Several of the honorees are teachers who work with students with specific needs, such as emotional disabilities, visual impairments or hearing loss. Roth Hoyer, a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing has worked with student Molly Nash for more than a decade, on much more than hearing issues.
“Ruth has been Molly’s guardian angel for 11 years,” said Lisa Nash, Molly’s mother. “We know Molly wouldn’t have had the experiences and great outcomes she has had, had it not been for Ruth.”
Molly is now a junior at Cherry Creek High School and has appeared in many productions with PHAMALy, a professional theater company that features many performers with disabilities. Molly sang “For Good” at the Golden Heart Awards Dinner and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 300 people.
The final honoree of the evening was Dr. Ed Steinburg, who began his career in Cherry Creek Schools as a school psychologist, became a coordinator of Elementary Mental Health services, and finally served as executive Director of Student Achievement Services for several years before joining the Colorado Department of Education as the Assistant Commissioner of Student Support Services. He helped establish the Golden Heart Awards program ten years ago.
Congratulations to all of the 2012 Golden Heart Award recipients:
• Katie Brauns, Occupational Therapist, Districtwide
• Ashley DeBoer, Student, Falcon Creek Middle School
• Jon Downing, Volunteer, Canyon Creek Elementary
• Meltiathes Gatseos, Para-educator, Ponderosa Elementary
• Jane Hall, Para-educator, Grandview High School
• Ruth Hoyer, Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Districtwide
• Mary Ann Murphy, Learning Disabilities Teacher, Campus Middle School
• Weston Music, Bus Assistant, Transportation
• Aly Padgett, Student, Grandview High School
• Terri Poole, First Grade Teacher, High Plains Elementary
• Mimi Schaper, Teacher for Students with Visual Impairments, Districtwide
• Taneisha Schumann, ILC Teacher, Cherokee Trail High School
• Summer Snyder, Third Grade Teacher, Arrowhead Elementary
• Melissa Trujillo, Para-educator, Independence Elementary
• Tawnya Williams, ED Teacher, Smoky Hill High School
• Mary Dove, Early Childhood Coordinator
• Jill Accame, Parent, SEAC Steering Committee
• Dr. Ed Steinberg, Assistant Commissioner of Student Support Services, Colorado Department of 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/.