The Colorado Council for Learning Disabilities has awarded the distinguished 2012 Professional of the Year Award to Pati Montgomery and Melody Ilk. Each year, the award is given for outstanding performance and commitment by a professional who works in the field of learning disabilities in a role outside of the classroom. Pati and Melody went on to compete for and were awarded the Floyd G. Hudson Outstanding Service Award. This is the first year that both CCLD and CLD elected to recognize co-recipients for these individual awards. As the recipients of the Floyd G. Hudson Award, Pati and Melody will be recognized in October at the Council for Learning Disabilities International Conference in Austin, Texas.
2013 Nomination Forms
The 2012 Professional of the Year Award and the distinguished
Floyd G. Hudson Award are presented to Ms. Pati Montgomery and Ms. Melody Ilk
For the first time, the Colorado Council for Learning Disabilities is honored to award the prestigious Professional of the Year Award to co-recipients. Pati Montgomery and Melody Ilk have made significant contributions to the area of literacy interventions. These efforts have positively impacted student achievement for students with disabilities as well as other at-risk populations during the last three decades of their careers.
Pati MontgomeryAs an elementary school principal, Ms. Montgomery was the first in the Jefferson County School District to bring scientific-based reading research into practice. During this process she received an outstanding administrator award from the Association from Retarded Citizens. While an elementary principal her school was recognized for closing the achievement gap for students with special needs as well as minority groups. Ms. Montgomery’s school was a Reading First School and Pati served as the state Chairman of the Reading First Principals’ Group. Her elementary school was awarded the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award. As a middle school principal, Pati Montgomery wrote the Alameda Literacy Plan, an articulation-area literacy plan that served as a blueprint for systemic literacy practices across seven schools. As this plan unfolded, she trained the area principals in leading a literacy initiative. By way of this reading initiative, less than five percent of all students are in need of intensive reading interventions.
Melody IlkMs. Ilk taught numerous years in special education and the regular elementary classroom. She then served on the Jefferson County School District’s Interventions Resource Team providing support to schools by guiding programming suggestions for students with Learning Disabilities, Autism and Down’s syndrome. She is currently a literacy coordinator for five elementary schools. Melody is a regional trainer for LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling), the Colorado Reading First Project, DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basis Literacy Skills) Next and Rave-O. Ms. Ilk was nominated by her area coaches for the O’Rourke Prize presented by the Colorado Staff Development Council for exemplary professional development.
Pati and Melody have used their knowledge and experience to design and develop strong programming and interventions for students in highly-impacted schools to drastically reduce the number of students experiencing reading failure. One of their schools received the Colorado Governor’s Award for Distinguished Improvement and Closing the Achievement Gap. One of the participating schools also received a national Title 1 Distinguished School Award for closing the achievement gap, one of only two awarded in the state by the United States Department of Education. This school and another from the project were recognized as recipients of the Centers of Excellence Award by the Colorado Department of Education for two consecutive years. These awards are distributed annually to those schools in the state that demonstrate the highest rates of student-longitudinal academic growth and enroll a student population that is at least seventy-five percent at-risk. The majority of the schools also have some of the highest student mobility in the district. In addition, one of the schools was chosen by the Colorado Department of Education’s Exceptional Student Services Unit to be a visitation site for the national Council for Exceptional Children Conference hosted in Denver in April of 2012.
Ms. Montgomery and Ms. Elk will be able to impact student learning beyond the state of Colorado with their collaborative efforts with Dr. Louisa Moats. They recently authored a book with Dr. Louisa Moats titled, The Principal’s Primer for Raising Reading Achievement.
2012 CCLD Teacher of the Year Award
Arlene Vigil-OlechIt is obvious to me how much I love working with children and making a difference in their lives. Watching the light bulb go on in students’ minds as they break the reading code is phenomenal. Becoming a special education teacher later in my life after raising our four children was exhilarating and challenging. I fulfilled my dream to inspire, educate, and empower students so that they would be successful in the 21st Century and at the same time, make a profound difference in a student’s life.
My students rely on me to provide them with the best education possible. It is important to provide a safe learning environment so students can ask questions and be engaged in their learning. I act as a role model and mentor to help support them as they meet the daily challenges of the classroom. I engage the families in a partnership because it my belief that the first teacher of a child is their parents. Collaboration with families, classroom teachers, and other support staff help educate our students. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a learning community to teach a student.
For two years, I also had the privilege of being a special education instructional coach. Additionally, I had the opportunity to become a Trainer of Trainers for Language! and Fundamental Applications for Successful Teaching (F.A.S.T.). As a trainer, I co-facilitated specific staff-development trainings in these programs for our district’s special education teachers, helping to foster collaboration among teachers.
Lynn Heintzman, Chief Academic Officer for Adams 14 School District, writes “Arlene Vigil-Olech gets her drive and energy from her committed belief that all students can learn at high levels and all students deserve the best possible educational opportunities. She delivers on this promise. If a recipient of your award, Arlene will represent teachers across the state as a collaborative, determined, child-centered and intelligent Learning Specialist.” Flonetta Dalton, a special education coordinator for her district writes, “Arlene has a long standing reputation for being able to teach the most reluctant learner. She has a wonderful rapport with people of all ages, especially children. Arlene’s ability to connect with her students and her talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advanced topics, are both truly superior.”
Para-educator of the Year Award
Barb GarciaThe 2012 CCLD Para educator of the year award has been given to Barb Garcia, who has worked for Adams County School District 14 for the past twenty -three years. Barb has worked both as a para educator in special education and also with general education populations. Her students have ranged in age from kindergarten to fifth grade, and includes those with mild to moderate disabilities to students with significant severe needs. In her current role at Alsup Elementary, Barb assists in planning and implementing literacy and math lessons in a small group setting as well as providing support in the general education classrooms. Barb describes her beliefs as an educator:
“It is my belief that each child has the right to be educated to the best of their ability and not what we perceive their ability should be. They also have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to be successful. I also believe in inclusion where all children learn to honor the diversity of each other’s strengths, talents and weaknesses.”
According to Teresa Benallo, Principal of Alsup Elementary, “Barbara Garcia is a valuable and positive addition to our classrooms and our school. She is an exceptional candidate for this much deserved award.” CCLD is honored to recognize the long career of such an exceptional educator.