Award recognizes local educators for their service to students with special needs
The Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) honored eight Annie Sullivan Award nominees and Miss Sabrina Werley, recipient of the 2021 Annie Sullivan Award, with a virtual reception and award ceremony on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Colleagues, friends, and family gathered to recognize the outstanding service and dedication of individuals to the advocacy and well-being of students with disabilities.
Miss Werley is a Learning Support Teacher at Cumru Elementary within the Governor Mifflin School District. Most recently Miss Werley was asked to be the virtual learning support teacher and case manager for the kindergarten through grade four learning support students who chose full-virtual instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.
Trish Seifert, Special Education Supervisor, Dave Argentati, Director of Pupil Services, and Erika Thomas, Special Education Supervisor, nominated Miss Werley for the 2021 Annie Sullivan Award saying, “A year ago Sabrina was one of our many wonderful learning support teachers. She was caring, competent, and intelligent, but had not yet developed into one of our department leaders. Fast forward into what we will someday reflect on as ‘the year that changed everything,’ and Sabrina has pivoted, time and time again, to take on a new and incredibly challenging role of supporting our virtual students. In a district that prides itself on our steadfast commitment to safe, in-person instruction, Sabrina has taken on the role of coordinating the special education services for all of our kindergarten through grade four students whose families opted, for various reasons, to keep them at home this year.”
Miss Werley’s impact has been immeasurable throughout the Governor Mifflin School District. At a recent individualized education program (IEP) meeting, a mother of a student remarked that, “Miss Werley has been amazing. Anytime I’ve had a concern, she’s right there to help me. She made virtual learning work for our family.” Another family wrote in an email to Miss Werley, “You always make sure that parents understand everything, and I am so thankful for that and all of your help. I want you to know that you are very important to us; your work and kindness make a difference in many lives. You help kids develop skills that are important to their success and that they will use for the rest of their lives. Your work gives them hope and the confidence to believe in themselves more.”
The 2021 Annie Sullivan Award nominees were:
- Mrs. Nancy Gross, Acting Elementary Supervisor of Special Education, Boyertown Area School District
- Mrs. Traci Huddleson, Wellness Coordinator, Daniel Boone Area School District
- Mrs. Amelia Spatz, Special Education Liaison, Fleetwood Area School District
- Mr. Steven Fritz, Specialized Transportation Driver, Kutztown Area School District
- Mr. Tim Reber, Head Maintenance Employee, Oley Valley School District
- Ms. Leslie Esterly, Special Education Teacher, Reading School District
- Mrs. Susan Schwartz, Teacher, Tulpehocken Area School District
- Ms. Janel Bell, Behavior Support Teacher, Twin Valley School District
The Annie Sullivan Award is given in recognition of an individual who has worked to encourage the understanding and promotion of students with disabilities in his or her school or community. Annie Sullivan was Helen Keller’s devoted teacher and mentor who was nearly blind herself. After treatment, she regained her sight and committed herself to teaching the blind and deaf.