Outstanding Educator of the Year Award Winners

Outstanding Educator-of-the-Year Awards are designed to recognize outstanding professionals who serve students with learning disabilities. Nominees may be special educators, general educators, administrators, or other educators who have spent at least 5 years serving students with learning disabilities at any grade level. The award consists of, (a) a $200 stipend, (b) up to $500 in travel expenses for presentation of the award at the DLD business meeting, held during CEC’s annual convention, and (c) a commemorative plaque. Nominations are due 15 October annually.

Dr. Kelly Grillo (2018)

Dr. Kelly J. Grillo earned her PhD at the University of Central Florida.  Her research focus is the achievement of students within inclusive STEM environments.  Currently, Dr. Grillo is an inclusion biology faculty member in technology-rich Flaler County Schools.  Dr. Grillo’s end-of-course exam outcomes speak to her expertise.  Despite disabilities and reading/language barriers, 58% of her students earned a 3 or above in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years out of 313 students being assessed.  Dr. Grillo has served as a member of the AIM-AT-UDL FL State Oversight Committee, on the Florida Council for Exceptional Children State board, and as the Education Director of Mills Aviation Charities.  Dr. Grillo currently serves on the Leadership Development Committee for Internal CEC and has numerous publications, conference presentations, and awards.  She was honored as a nominee in Washington as a STEM Champion for Change.  Dr. Grillo is a national advocate for persons with learning disabilities so that she herself can accept her own disability.  Follow her on Twitter @kellygrillo.

Corali de Pablos (2018)

Corali de Pablos is a 3rd grade teacher at Deerfield Beach Elementary School in Broward County, Florida.  De Pablos taught special education for 6 years before moving to a general education classroom.  She was a 2016 Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction in Collier County Public Schools for the best practice of “Teaching with a Big Heart,” and most recently was awarded the honor of being named the 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year for Deerfield Beach Elementary.  De Pablos has a passion or making a personal connection with every child she teaches.  Her belief that every child will succeed drives her dedication to her craft.  She uses her wealth of experiences across grade levels, settings, and service models to develop lessons that best meet the needs of the children in her classroom.  She currently teaches 18 students in a Title I school, with a mix of English language learners (Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian-Creole, and Mandarin speaking) and students with disabilities in the general education setting.

Cecilia Hampton (2017)

DLD is proud to name Cecilia Hampton of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Tennessee as the 2017 Outstanding of the Year Award recipient.

Ms. Hampton has dedicated herself to the special education field for 31 years.  She has taught across settings and service models, always placing students first.  She has used her experiences as a teacher to support novice instructors in the field, serving as a special education coach at all tier levels.  Ms. Hampton supports her students with learning disabilities (as well as other disabilities) through her use of evidence-based practices.  She is dedicated and embodies what it means to be an excellent special educator.

Angela Rogers (2016)

Angela Rogers of Columbia Public Schools in Columbia, Missouri.

Amanda Giorgi (2015)

Amanda Giorgi, is a special education teacher in the Bristol-Warren Regional Unified School District in Rhode Island where she has worked to successfully implement intensive intervention for students with learning disabilities. She also serves as a leader on her school’s Response to Intervention team, helping to develop staff capacity to support students with severe and persistent learning and behavior challenges. Her colleagues describe her as a collaborative and dedicated team player who has been instrumental in bringing about improvement for all students, including those with disabilities.

Frankie Norris (2013)

Frankie Norris from the Birdville Independent School District in Forth Worth, Texas.

Maria Jurgielewicz (2011-2012)

Maria Jurgielewicz from the Shawnee Mission School District, Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

Tyson Schoeber (2010)

Tyson Schoeber, a teacher of students with learning disabilities in the Thrive program at Nootka Elementary in Vancouver, Canada, received DLD’s Outstanding Educator Award in October of 2010 in Baltimore (MD, US) at DLD’s conference, “Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice.” Professor Linda Siegel nominated Mr. Schroeber for the award and her nomination was supported by enthusiastic letters of parents, a classroom volunteer, and his school principal.

The nominating materials cited Mr. Schoeber’s understanding of individual differences, commitment to fostering students’ strengths, efforts to help them improve in their areas of need, and dedication to promoting their self-esteem. His THRIVE program incorporates individualization, technology, Orton-Gillingham methods, and more.

In notifying him of the award, Kristen McMaster, chair of the Professional Development Standards and Ethics Committee, which oversees the award, wrote, “Mr. Schoeber’s efforts exemplify the characteristics of outstanding educators that this award seeks to recognize. The award committee was especially impressed with your use of evidence-based practices and technology to not only improve students’ academic performance, but also to engage them in learning, foster their creativity, and celebrate their accomplishments.”

A parent who wrote a letter of support for his nomination stated, “Not only has he succeeded in helping our daughter make great academic progress but—and perhaps most importantly—he restored our daughter’s self-esteem and understanding of her special learning needs. Mr. Schoeber understands dyslexia and is a caring and empathic teacher and leader, who truly believes in the potential our kids hold waiting to be unleashed.”

Learn more about the THRIVE program

Steve Wheless (2009)

Steve Wheless
COOK Education Center
San Diego, CA 92108

Steve Wheless is recognized for his commitment to providing students with disabilities with effective instruction and positive educational experiences, as well as his leadership and overall professionalism as a teacher and mentor at the COOK Education Center. His nomination letter, submitted by Carol Nielson (Program Coordinator), stated that, “Steve takes action to promote excellence in serving students with Specific Learning Disabilities. He is a hands-on problem-solver, and both students and staff members consult with Steve when they need guidance. He takes initiative to be where he is needed.”