The Lisa K. Henkel Award is given to an SAU29 classroom teacher or teaching team showing particular dedication to the inclusion of students with disabilities. The award includes $2,000 in classroom supplies in memory of Lisa K. Henkel, who worked at Keene State College to adapt learning materials to accommodate blind students in music, mathematics, science, foreign language, and other areas.
Dr. Richard Matte, SAU29 Director of Student Services, has been assisting in selecting the honorees. He states: “last year, Benjamin Franklin School committed and embraced a change to their academic support model. Franklin’s goal was to push in qualified special educators and paraprofessionals to regular classroom instruction in hopes to include students with disabilities to an even greater extent than before.”
“This delivery model took a concerted effort of common planning, differentiating instruction and creating alternative learning spaces in the regular classroom,” Dr. Matte continues. “Some teachers even went to the extent of sharing lead teaching responsibilities, planning and providing intervention for the neediest students and co-planning core instruction. This took a tremendous amount of daily communication and a commitment to consistent planning. I am proud to announce that this year’s Lisa K. Henkel Award for Excellence in Inclusion was awarded to Ms. Katharine Abbott and Ms. Jessica Hall from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.”
Ms. Abbott and Ms. Hall stated upon reception of the award: “We are extremely grateful to be recognized for our hard work to include all students into the first grade classroom. Although the year was full of challenges, the benefits of academic and social growth of the students far outweighed the hardships. We could not have done this without teamwork and the dedication of our esteemed paraprofessional, Zola Luebkeman. We cannot thank the Henkel family enough for honoring us with the Lisa K. Henkel Award.”