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Getting Involved

Making Connections: Six Special Educators Earn Exceptional Service Awards

It takes an exceptionally-skilled and dedicated group of special education teachers to meet the exceptional challenges of teaching in a pandemic.

The health crisis has made it harder for all teachers to do their jobs. But in addition to having to modify their instruction, special education teams had to figure out how to prevent disruptions in counseling and physical and speech therapy. They had to brainstorm new ways to communicate with families and make learning modifications and accommodations for students.

Each year, CSD’s Office of Special Education and Related Services recognizes a special group of special education professionals with Exceptional Service Awards. With patience and optimism, this year’s awardees went above and beyond to ensure students, no matter how they are learning, have felt challenged and connected.

Lucie Chamberlain, Alta View Elementary

Throughout the pandemic, Lucie Chamberlain personally delivered supplies and packets to the homes of the students in her diagnostic kindergarten class. She took great care to make sure her online lessons and weekly video chats were successful — her Canvas page is something her colleagues seek to mimic — while still delivering the quality of in-person instruction she knows her students deserve. A true team-builder, she works collaboratively with paraeducators and families to support learning. She is fiercely dedicated to her students and greets every day of classroom learning with seemingly endless reserves of patience and understanding.

Alta View Elementary School's kindergarten teacher Lucie Chamberlain
Brenda Staples, Corner Canyon High

Brenda Staples was instrumental in building Canyons Youth Academy. Her experience and passion for supporting students, especially those in need of an extra smile and encouragement, are but a few of the reasons she was selected for this prestigious teaching position. Through her mentoring and advocacy, 90 percent of students leave the Youth Academy on track to graduate. It’s no exaggeration to say that Staples — through her steadfast professionalism, guidance and support — has saved lives and brought hope back into the hearts of her students who, along with parents and caseworkers, sing her praises.

Corner Canyon High School's special education teacher Brenda Staples
Carley Campbell, Alta High

Carley Campbell implements every one of the Canyons’ instructional priorities in her special education classroom with perfection and builds positive, encouraging relationships with her students. She is good at advocating for her students with her teacher colleagues, often playing a key role in finding the common ground between her students’ needs and upholding the academic integrity of her general education peers. She’s a great communicator, and as if being a fantastic teacher and student advocate weren’t enough, Campbell is also Alta’s head softball coach — and proving to be one of the best in that field, as well.

Alta High School's special education teacher Carley Campbell
Jennifer Rupp, Alta View Elementary

Community involvement is Jennifer Rupp’s middle name. When the COVID-19 health crisis hit, she went above and beyond to make sure students had what they needed to succeed, whether they were learning from home or at school. As a social worker, she’s no stranger to making home visits. She spends countless hours each year organizing the school’s Christmas drive, and has been known to deliver baskets of lunches to families on Fridays. She wears many hats. But students know her as someone who will listen to them, an ally and someone they can trust.

Alta View Elementary School's social worker Jennifer Rupp
Emily Christofferson, Draper Elementary School

When students “graduate” from Emily Christofferson’s speech class, they are sad to be saying “goodbye” to “Miss Emily,” but they do so with perfect diction. The speech language pathologist builds her students’ self-esteem along with their speech skills. As the special education team lead, Christofferson keeps Individualized Education Plan schedules rolling, and does the behind-the-scenes investigative work to determine which services students need to continue making progress.  “She is the glue that keeps our sped team together, and I am not sure what we would do without her,” a colleague said.

Draper Elementary School's speech language pathologist Emily Christofferson
Stephanie Campo, Ridgecrest Elementary

Stephanie Campo has always been a child-whisperer, helping students to see the best in themselves — skills she put to use in building Ridgecrest’s special education classrooms into a praiseworthy program. Throughout the pandemic, she committed to making sure temporarily home-bound students had what they needed to keep learning, even going so far as to hold weekly tutorials with grandparents so they knew how to access online lessons. The gravitational pull of her enthusiasm and energy is contagious. Colleagues say she is the center of the special education team and one-of-a-kind influence.

Ridgecrest Element School's special education teacher Stephanie Campo

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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