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Golden Heart Awards honor those who support students with special needs
The bus driver who "goes the extra mile" for his riders with special needs. The high school student who makes sure her peers with special needs have a chance to shine. The Special Education teacher known as “Mama Bear” because she does everything in her power to nurture and protect her students.

Fifteen people who “give with a golden heart” and were honored at the 11th Annual Golden Heart Awards Dinner, held May 30 at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center. Sponsored by the Cherry Creek Schools Special Education Advisory Committee, this touching event honors students, staff and community members who make a difference in the lives of children with special needs.

See more photos of the honorees on the Cherry Creek Schools Facebook page.

Honoree Christylynne Grenz is a student at Cherry Creek High School who started the Sparkles Cheerleading team for students in the ILC program or with physical disabilities who would not otherwise have the opportunity to cheer at CCHS sporting events.

“Christylynne planned and ran practices, created a schedule and encouraged students to participate,” said ILC teacher Mike Zadigan. “She created an inclusive environment and has done so much to enhance the understanding and acceptance of all the students who participate.”

Honoree Tom Conroy is a bus driver who truly connects with the students who ride his bus, as well as their parents.

“He goes above and beyond what I ever expected of a bus driver,” said parent Pam Sieverin. “He demands respect in his bearing and treatment of the students and tells us how exceptional each child is in their own way.”

Several of the honorees are para-educators or Special Education teachers who work with students with a variety of special needs. One of those is “Mama Bear” Sue Bolton, a Special Education teacher at High Plains Elementary.

“Sue is the most kind, caring and passionate educator I have met in my 14 years working in schools,” said Dr. Lisa Wolff, the psychologist at High Plains. “Not only does she put her heart and soul into teaching students the academic skills with which they have struggled, she loves and cares for her students to a degree much greater than the ordinary educator.”

Congratulations to all of the 2013 Golden Heart Award recipients:
•    Pamela Bittles, Para-educator, Sky Vista Middle School
•    Sue Bolton, Special Education Teacher, High Plains Elementary
•    Traci Chambers, Occupational Therapist, Districtwide
•    Tom Conroy, Transportation, Districtwide
•    Kelley Garrod, Special Education Teacher, Eaglecrest High School
•    Cristy Garthright, Special Education Teacher, Red Hawk Ridge Early Childhood
•    Charity Gilleylen, Compliance Officer, Mountain Man Fruit and Nut
•    Christylynne Grenz, Student, Cherry Creek High School
•    Dave Howard, Art Teacher, Thunder Ridge Middle School
•    Ashley Lovell, Para-educator, Cherokee Trail High School
•    Danielle Neppl, Director, The Village Early Childhood Center
•    Simon Price, Special Education Teacher, Cherry Hills Village Elementary
•    Kinette Richards, Psychologist, Eastridge Elementary
•    Lisa Sacino, Physical Education Teacher, Black Forest Hills Elementary
•    Jessica Thelen, Para-educator, Campus Middle School

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

Posted June 4, 2013.
Posted 6/4/2013 12:08 PM
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