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    The Lara Jane Parker Awards Program Honoring the 2016 Award Recipients Thursday, April 21, 4:30 p.m. The William C. and Ida Friday Center Wh… Read More
    The Lara Jane Parker Awards Program Honoring the 2016 Award Recipients Thursday, April 21, 4:30 p.m. The William C. and Ida Friday Center When Lara Parker was born on April 1, 1971, she did not breathe for fifteen minutes. Doctors told Lara's parents that she had little chance of surviving. But survive she did! At nine months of age, Lara was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The family hoped that Lara would be able to walk with braces and talk. However, the prognosis grew increasingly pessimistic over time as she failed to achieve the ability to sit, stand or verbalize. Lara was unable to walk, speak or use her hands in any purposeful way. However, as limiting as Lara's physical abilities were, she went on to live in her own apartment, received her undergraduate degree from the UNC-Chapel Hill, and served on several state and local committees working with issues involving developmental disabilities. She led a self-determined life. The Lara Jane Parker Awards Program was established to provide both reward and recognition to those outstanding teachers, therapists, parents, education and health professionals, and leaders who work daily to improve the lives of New Voices children. These individuals improve their schools and their communities in ways that will allow children with severe communication and mobility challenges to be fully included in all aspects of their daily lives. Robert B Butler Communications | PR www.RBButler.com www.NCPressRelease.org Read Less
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Recognizing and Rewarding the Best Work of Life
Lara Jane Parker Awards
Honoring 2016 Recipients
Thursday, April 21, 4:30 p.m.
William and Ida Friday Center
Chapel Hill, NC 
2016 Recipients
Alecia Osisek, 2016 Excellence Award
Excellence Award
 
Alecia Osisek is a primary system level teacher at Ephesus Elementary school in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School system.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Graduate Certification in Special Education from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. Alecia has a passion for teaching, a gift for creating a communication rich classroom, and has successfully transitioned a student into a general education setting. Alecia’s classroom serves as a model in her district established to improve the processes used by Assistive Technology / Augmentative Alternative Communication teams.  She was nominated by one of our other recipients this year, Ashley Robinson.  
 Advocacy Award
 
Ashley Robinson is a Speech Language Pathologist working as an Augmentative Alternative Communication Specialist in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools since 2011. She received her Masters of Science from UNC-Chapel Hill.  Ashley’s motto is one that is shared by New Voices, “Everyone Deserves a Voice.” Ashley’s colleagues appreciate her dynamic approach for communication system implementation in the classroom. Ashley inspires others to believe in their students and provides the support necessary for them to successfully implement communication systems for their students. Three peers, Elizabeth Burns, Kara VanHooser, and Ruth Morgan, a previous Lara Jane Parker recipient, nominated Ashley for the award.    
Advocacy Award
 
Laura Lewis has over 25 years experience as a Speech Language Pathologist working extensively with children with communication disabilities. Laura received her Masters of Science degree in Speech / Language Pathology from East Carolina University. Currently, she is an Assistive Technology Specialist with the Wake County Public School System. Laura is also a 2010 Kenan Fellow sponsored by the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities and New Voices Foundation. One of Laura’s many strengths is recognizing the importance of parents in the development of communication systems for her students. Two parents nominated her: one with whom she worked over 20 years ago and one with whom she is currently working. These nominations illustrate Laura's tireless commitment to children struggling to be heard. The nominating parents were Laura Fischler and Dawn Selby.  
Betsy Cordle, 2016, Advocacy Award
Advocacy Award
 
Betsy Cordle is an Assistive Technology Specialist in Wake County Public Schools since 2004. Betsy’s background includes a Masters of Education in Special Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, which provides a unique blend of teacher and technology. Several classroom teachers nominated Betsy because of her ability to provide practical ideas to improve communication systems in the classroom. Betsy was an instrumental part of a team that trained over 25 preschool through high school teachers of New Voices’ children. A grateful parent, whose son is becoming a communicator, recommended Betsy for this award. Kristin Burnette, Michele Hill, Suzanne Tomalski, and Amanda Hummel, a previous Lara Jane Parker recipient, nominated Betsy.  
Official Press Release
 
Recognizing and Rewarding the Best Work of Life
New Voices Foundation announces 2016 Parker Award Recipients
 
RALEIGH, NC – An estimated 400 children in North Carolina’s Triangle region can’t speak, can’t write, and have trouble walking or even moving through space. Families and public schools struggle to meet their complex medical, technological, and educational needs.
 
In 2007, nonprofit New Voices Foundation was established to improve educational opportunities for children with severe communication and mobility disabilities to help maximize their learning potential.
 
“New Voices children have the same needs and aspirations of all children, and a bit more,” said Don Stedman retired Dean of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill and co-founder of New Voices. “There is no reason that their communication and mobility challenges cannot be successfully addressed in a way that will allow full inclusion in our schools and community.”
 
Over the past decade, with the support of outstanding teachers, therapists, parents, leaders, and education and health professionals, hundreds of lives of New Voices children have been changed, unlocking communication, mobility, inclusion, and possibilities.
 
When Lara Jane Parker was born in 1971, she did not breathe for fifteen minutes and was not expected to survive. Later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Lara was unable to sit, stand, or talk. Overcoming her limitations with self-determination and with a lot of support from teachers and others, Lara graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, lived independently, and served on committees working with issues involving developmental disabilities.
 
In memory of Lara, the Lara Jane Parker Awards for Excellence and Advocacy was established in 2013 to recognize and reward individuals who work tirelessly to improve the lives of New Voices Children. This year’s recipients will be honored Thursday, April 21, at 4:30 p.m. at Friday Center in Chapel Hill. The program is free and open to the public.
 
RSVP by April 15: Pat@NewVoicesNC.org.
 
2016 Award Recipients:
 
Award of Excellence
 
Alecia Osisek, Teacher, Ephesus Elementary School, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System
 
With a passion for teaching and a gift for creating a communication rich environment, Alecia’s classroom has successfully transitioned a student into general education and is a model for processes used by Assistive Technology / Augmentative Alternative Communications teams. Alecia received her BA in Elementary Education and Graduate Certification in Special Education from Eastern University in Pennsylvania.
 
Advocacy Awards
 
Betsy Cordle, Assistive Technology Specialist, Wake County Public Schools
 
Betsy’s background includes a Masters of Education in Special Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, providing a unique blend of teaching and technology experiences. This combination enables Betsy to provide practical ideas to implement successful communication systems in the classroom. Betsy was a key team member that provided training to over 25 teachers.
 
Laura Lewis, Assistive Technology Specialist, Wake County Public Schools
 
With over 25 years experience as a Speech Language Pathologist, Laura has worked extensively with children with communication disabilities. One of her numerous strengths is involving the parents in the development of communication systems for students. Laura is a 2010 Kenan Fellow sponsored by New Voices Foundation. She received her Masters of Science degree in Speech / Language Pathology from East Carolina University.
 
Ashley Robinson, Augmentative Alternative Communication Specialist, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
 
Ashley inspires others to believe in their students and provides a dynamic approach for them to implement successful communication systems in the classroom. Her motto is “everyone deserves a voice.” Ashley received her Masters of Science from UNC-Chapel Hill.
 
 
Contact:
 
Sandy McMillan, Board Chair
New Voices Foundation
Phone: 919-659-5961
 
 
Robert B Butler
Communications | PR
The Lara Jane Parker Awards
 
When Lara Parker was born on April 1, 1971, she did not breathe for fifteen minutes. Doctors told Lara's parents that she had little chance of surviving. But survive she did.
 
At nine months of age, Lara was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The family hoped that Lara would be able to walk with braces and talk. However, the prognosis grew increasingly pessimistic over time as she failed to achieve the ability to sit, stand or verbalize. Lara was unable to walk, speak or use her hands in any purposeful way. However, as limiting as Lara's physical abilities were, she went on to live in her own apartment, received her undergraduate degree from the UNC-Chapel Hill, and served on several state and local committees working with issues involving developmental disabilities. She led a self-determined life.
 
The Purpose of the Awards
 
The Lara Jane Parker Awards Program was established to provide both reward and recognition to those outstanding teachers, therapists, parents, education and health professionals, and leaders who work daily to improve the lives of New Voices children. These individuals improve their schools and their communities in ways that will allow children with severe communication and mobility challenges to be fully included in all aspects of their daily lives.
 
Selection Criteria
 
Award for Excellence: This award recognizes individuals from the Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake counties, and/or the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, who have direct instructional or therapeutic contact with a school-aged child (or children) with communication and physical challenges. Possible nominees include Teachers, Special Educators, Speech and Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, or Assistive Technologists.
 
Award for Advocacy: This award recognizes individuals who advocate for a child (or children) with communication and physical challenges. Possible nominees include School Administrators, Principals, Community Leaders, Legislators, Parents, or Volunteers. Nominees need not be employed by the public schools.
 
Prior Recipients 
Lara Jane Parker Awards
 
2015
Kelli Jackson - Excellence Award
Catherine Raynor - Advocacy Award
Lynda Reilich - Advocacy Award
 
2014
Jessica Lewis - Excellence Award
Ruth Morgan - Excellence Award
Kim Morrisette - Advocacy Award
Deanna St. John - Excellence Award
Sarah Williams - Excellence Award
 
2013
Luanne Holland - Excellence Award
Charlotte Hughes - Advocacy Award
Amanda Hummel - Excellence Award
Trudy Maness - Excellence Award