Special Education Week in IRSD an inclusive celebration

The Indian River School District recognized Gerry Hocker and Andy Timmons as Honorary Special Education Ambassadors iat the Oct. 22 board of education meeting during the district’s celebration of Special Education Week. From left, IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele, Mr. Hocker, school board president Charles Bireley and school board member Dr. Heather Statler. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN – Special Education Week was celebrated in the Indian River School District.

Diversity, inclusion and respect are optimum words in programs, activities and projects at schools throughout the district.

At the Oct. 22 IRSD board of education meeting, Gerry Hocker and Andy Timmons were recognized as special community ambassadors by the district’s Special Education Task Force, chaired by school board member Dr. Heather Statler.

IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele said Mr. Hocker and Mr. Timmons are community members who have contributed in significant ways towards special education in the Indian River School District.

“The task force believes special education ambassadors embrace and promote the culture of support and success for students with disabilities,” said Mr. Steele, adding the two “have helped us significantly this year in promoting our celebration for this week. Through their generosity and willingness to give back to their school district their message has reached hundreds of families.”

From left, Howard T. Ennis teacher Buddy Snyder, Georgetown Police Det./School Resource Officer Joey Melvin and Ennis teacher Jessica White. (Submitted photo)

At the board meeting, each elementary school principal was presented a book that “promotes disability awareness by embracing diversity, promoting inclusion and encouraging respect for all,” said Judi Brittingham, IRSDs Special Education Director. “The book, My Brother Charlie, is about a boy with autism and highlights the importance hope, courage and patience.”

The hope is that book will be the focus of classroom readalouds, focusing on abilities rather than disabilities, Ms. Brittingham said.

Special Education Week, which ran Oct. 22-26, featured a kickoff of the district’s SafeAbility Series at Howard T. Ennis School, which serves students in Sussex County significant disabilities in grades K-12.

Georgetown Police Department is partnering with the Indian River district in the SafeAbility Series, a proactive approach to school safety that addresses one of the most critical populations – students with disabilities.

“I know I said it before, but I do want to sincerely thank the Georgetown Police Department for partnering with us on this project,” said Dr. Statler. “The benefit to our students is tremendous and we are really looking forward to seeing how this project will develop.”

With activities scheduled in all district schools, Special Education Week promotes and celebrates special education services, programs and teachers that make it possible for students with disabilities to reach their full potential.

Indian River School District Director of Special Education Judi Brittingham speaks at the SafeAbility Series kickoff event at Howard T. Ennis School. (Submitted photo)

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