Marva Collins Diversity Award Winners

The Marva Collins Diversity Award honors a special education teacher who makes a significant impact in the education of children and youths with learning disabilities who come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. The award consists of, (a) a $500 stipend, (b) up to $500 toward travel to a regional DLD or national CEC conference, and (c) a commemorative plaque. Nominations for this award are due 15 October of each year.

Anna Elise Kay (2018)

Anna Kay is a special education teacher for a second, third, fourth, and fifth grades Cross-Categorical self-contained classroom at Emerson Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Emerson is a Title I school, as well as a community school, which provides 100% free lunch and breakfast to all students and outreach programs to students and parents in their neighborhood.  Some programs include GED, ESL, technology classes for parents, weekly Homework Diners, an on-site medical clinic, monthly food pantry, and a Walking School Bus Program.

The exceptionalities of her students include Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech and Language Impairment, and Developmentally Delayed.  All of her students come from homes that are impacted by situational, generational, and/or absolute poverty.  Approximately 66% of her students come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, including Mexican-American, African American, Navajo, and Pueblo Indian.  Her primary objective each day is to create lesson plans that meet the unique IEP goals of each student and foster learning experiences that both celebrate and are sensitive to the diversity in her classroom.  She has conducted a systematic literature review on mindfulness interventions for children with emotional and behavioral disorders, which is an often discussed but scarcely researched area, and presented her work at a CEC conference with her peers and faculty members.  She has successfully translated research into practice and has employed these approaches with her students.

Jocelyn Munoz (2017)

Jocelyn Muñoz is the 2017 recipient of DLD’s Marva Collins Award.  Ms.  Muñoz is an Exceptional Student Educator at Auburndale Elementary in Miami, Florida and predominantly works within a culturally diverse, multi-grade level classroom, with students ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade. Committed to educating students with learning disabilities and learning difficulties, Ms. Muñoz offers challenging lessons to develop students’ knowledge and skills by creating engaging and collaborative learning environments.

In 2014, Jocelyn received her Associate of Arts in Education degree from Miami Dade College. In 2016, she graduated with Honors from Miami Dade College with her Bachelor of Science in Exceptional Student Education with a Reading and ESOL endorsement. During her second year of teaching, Ms. Muñoz was nominated and recognized as the 2017-2018 “Rookie Teacher of the Year.” Additionally, she was ranked as highly effective on her final summative performance evaluation with unified summative rating of 100%.

During her time at Miami Dade College she was an active member and officer of the Council for Exceptional Children Chapter 1210. From 2015-2016, she was the chapter president.  Jocelyn continues to support and advocate for students with disabilities, while committing to expand her knowledge of evidence based practices and research. For Ms. Muñoz, both small and big gains provide opportunities for exponential growth and help her students transition into secondary education.

Rosalind Simpson (2006)

Rosalind Simpson was the first recipient of the Marva Collins Diversity Award in 2006. Ms. Simpson was a doctoral fellow for the Department of Learning and Instruction at the University of San Francisco. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she had been an elementary special education teacher in a special day class in the West Contra Costa School District in Richmond (CA, USA) since 2000. From 1998-2000, she was a Resource Specialist in the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland (CA). From 1984-2000 she was an academic therapist in private practice. She has an MA in Special Education with an emphasis in reading from Holy Names College in Oakland (CA) and is a lecturer at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga (CA).

In her letter of nomination, Chair of DLD’s Committee on Cultural and Linguistic Diversity and Professor at the University of San Francisco Yvonne Bui wrote this about Ms. Simpson:

Ms. Simpson is an extraordinary special education teacher. Her positive energy and enthusiasm for teaching are contagious. Ms. Simpson’s teaching style is unique, and she incorporates culturally responsive pedagogy into all of her lessons. For example, she teaches phonics and vocabulary words through movement and rhythmic chants.

In addition to core instruction, Ms. Simpson believes in teaching to the “whole” student. She engages her students in daily community-building activities where they learn to work collaboratively and value themselves and each other. Ms. Simpson also has high and consistent expectations for students’ behaviors, and she fosters a safe and positive learning environment for her students. As a result, the students with disabilities blossom under her tutelage.

Ms. Simpson also served DLD as a member of the Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Committee and helped represent DLD at CEC’s “Multicultural Summit” in 2006.