Smiles and laughter, tears and gratitude marked the 9th Annual Golden Heart Awards Dinner, held June 2 at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center. Sponsored by Cherry Creek Schools and the Special Education Advisory Committee, this touching event honors people who make a difference in the lives of children with special needs.
People like Jon and Marcia Hoerl, who are “a perfect example of people making dreams come true for our students,” said Grandview High School Principal Kurt Wollenweber. As Grandview’s athletic director, Jon Hoerl created a “unified basketball team” while cheerleading coach Marcia Hoerl started a “unified spirit squad.” Both groups include mainstream students and students with special needs. “The unified teams have changed the culture of our school,” added Wollenweber.
Smoky Hill High School student Stephanie Schrab was honored for founding “Buffalo Buddies,” a program where members of National Honor Society work side by side with special needs students. Cherry Creek High School student Sarah Barnhart was recognized for her work with Special Olympics and for hosting several “R Word” campaigns” where students pledge not to use offensive language or actions and to be inclusive toward people with special needs.
Ben Francis, the building engineer at Cherry Hills Village Elementary, “is there for all kids,” said Principal Pam Livingston. “We love Ben so much. He is an awesome guy.”
The other 2011 Golden Heart award recipients are:
• Kristen Archer, SWAP, Transition Program
• Melissa Charles-Brown, Para-educator, CARE/PREP
• Don Daugherty, Para-educator, Grandview High School
• Chuck Doudna, ILC teacher, Eaglecrest High School
• Helen Harmoush, Para-educator, Campus Middle School
• Evan Henderson, BD teacher, Eastridge Community Elementary
• Connie Lane, Occupational Therapist, Cherry Creek Schools
• Matthew McDonald, Principal, Independence Elementary
• Sharon Newman, First Grade Teacher, Timberline Elementary
• Tim and Angie Osburn, Parents, Greenwood Elementary
• Maggie Van Dusseldorp, Para-educator, Creekside Elementary
• Melissa Waggoner, Child Find Coordinator, Cherry Creek Schools
“How fortunate we are to have people like these among us,” said Superintendent Mary Chesley. “People who don’t let differences stand in the way of fun or friendship or accomplishment or acceptance. Thank you for doing what is needed, what is right, and what can make a wonderful difference in the life of a student with special needs.”
In addition to hosting the Golden Heart Awards Dinner, the Special Education Advisory Committee works to create and strengthen partnerships between parents, Cherry Creek Schools, and community agencies by providing a forum that promotes education, advocacy, networking and collective problem solving. For more information about SEAC, visit http://www.ccsd.k12.co.us/SpecEdAdvisoryCommittee/