2018 Trustees' Fund Award Recipient
May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
W. Springfield, Mass.
[Read press release.
Kalli is an exemplary staff member who embodies the mission, vision, and values of May Institute with everything she does. As a classroom teacher, she is responsible for helping to create curriculum, assess students, write Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and oversee academic progress, but she always finds a way to do so much more.
Last year, the West Springfield School moved to a new location and began an expansion. One of the new classrooms had many of the new students, and required a great deal of time and effort to assess all incoming students. Kalli accepted this challenge with enthusiasm and immediately began to assess and intake each new student. She created amazing programming to meet the diverse needs of her new classroom and new students were once again placed in Kalli’s room. Over this time, she helped to intake students with a wide range or behavioral and academic needs, and this process continued even when Kalli was covering for her lead instructor’s paternity leave, meaning she had an even greater involvement in addressing behavioral aspects of student support.
Even during challenging times, Kalli has consistently found ways to balance individualized instruction designed to meet specific student needs with group instruction designed to work on generalization and social skills. One parent even called to say Kalli taught her son math skills no other school has been able to teach.
She has supported students with extremely complex academic and behavioral profiles and has demonstrated a remarkable ability to meet their needs. Navigating some of our school’s most challenging behavioral situations has not deterred Kalli from setting up a variety of engaging opportunities to ensure her students continue to access the same experiences other kids would. Her classroom successfully attended the Big E, went pumpkin picking, went to the Hitchcock Center for the Environment, and met with the Fire Department to explore the trucks and equipment. She regularly creates differentiated science lessons and highly engaging academic activities to ensure her students receive the same access to these context areas they would in a public school. She has also made herself available to all of her students’ parents, many of whom are new and require a great deal of support. She has built relationships and trust with them even in some of the most demanding and difficult of situations.
With all the amazing things Kalli has accomplished, the most incredible part is the fact that she always has a smile on her face. Every day she comes to work positive and upbeat and it keeps her staff positive even through some of the most difficult situations in the classroom. She is always there to help in any crisis and supports her staff in every way possible. She is truly dedicated to her students, staff, and parents. Her hard work and ability to meet such diverse needs have helped continue to push the program to new heights and make our school stand out as the gold standard for special education programs.
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