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 Special Education Champions Recognized

‚ÄčEducators, parents, and other community members from across the county have gotten together or will soon to honor those who have gone above and beyond to help support students with special needs.

These awards are important because when we recognize exceptional contributions to special education, we not only show gratitude but also hope to inspire community members to contribute in their own unique way," said Ryan Estrellado, coordinator with the South County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA).

The East County SELPA Community Advisory Committee held its annual awards dinner on May 11, honoring 13 teachers, support workers and community members from the 11 school districts in the plan area. Winners are listed below.

The Community Advisory Committee in the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education will have its awards program on May 27, honoring 14 people from the 14 school districts it serves.

On June 1, the North Inland Special Education Region Community Advisory Committee will give out awards to seven people from the 10 school districts it serves.

The South County SELPA honored seven people in its area in February as part of its annual student art show.

The SELPAs are operated by the San Diego County Office of Education in collaboration with the school districts in each area. San Diego Unified School District and Poway Unified School District also operate SELPAs within their district boundaries.

The SELPAs have a variety of responsibilities, including insuring program availability for all children with disabilities, administering professional development, managing information systems, transition planning, providing legal assistance, budget reviewing and planning, coordinating with various agencies, curriculum and program development, and fiscal management.

Each SELPA has a community advisory committee made up of directors, program specialists, parents, and employees. The committee reviews and provides input regarding annual priorities as well as helping to develop workshops, conferences, and other activities that promote parents awareness and student achievement.

This year's honorees:

South County SELPA

Aleyda Santoyo, San Ysidro School District

Javier Montes, South Bay Union School District

MaryKay Rosinski, National School District

Lorna McMurray, Sweetwater Union High School District

Caroline Cunningham, Chula Vista Elementary School District

Megan Adams, Coronado Unified School District

Kelley Fialho, San Diego County Office of Education

East County SELPA

Heidi Bergener, principal, Lemon Grove School District

Christie Dougherty, teacher, Mountain Empire Unified School District

Erin Fears, teacher, Lakeside Union School District

Laura Franchini, teacher, Dehesa School District

Erin Juracka, special education paraprofessional, Grossmont Union High School District

Vickie Kalinowski, parent, Grossmont Union High School District

Carolyn Knowlton, teacher, Jamul-Dulzura Union School District

Shannon McRae, education specialist, Alpine Union School District

Ramon Orozco, assistant coach, Cajon Valley Union School District

Roxanna Orozco, speech and language pathologist, Cajon Valley Union School District

Elaine Pendoley, nurse, La Mesa-Spring Valley School District

Jean Setzer, teacher, Santee School District

Peter McQuaid, retired program specialist, Legacy Award


North Coastal Consortium for Special Education

Janine Shelton, teacher, Vista Unified School District

Allen Brooks, teacher, San Marcos Unified School District

Bethany Britt and Elizabeth Engelberg, collaborative team, San Dieguito Union High School District

Paula Merrick, special education services provider, Solana Beach School District

Eve Vance, special education support, Del Mar Union School District

Rachel Schmidt, special education administrator, Vista Unified School District

Leslie Harden, general education administrator, Carlsbad Unified School District

Diego Rios, supportive student, Vista Unified School District

Reevon Bryan, community member

Lorena Brady and Heather Stewart, employer at Marshalls San Marcos

Nathaniel Clark-Cook and Daniela Martinez Avalos, scholarship recipients, Fallbrook Union High School District


North Inland Special Education Region

Rachel Nortz, Escondido Union School District

Becky Hatch, Julian Union School District

Beverly Smith, Julian Union School District

Debbie Hagen, Ramona Unified School District

Marc Boykin, Ramona Unified School District

Katherine Schutz, Escondido Union High School District

Lynette Maturino, Escondido Union High School District