2017 Award Winners

Award Recipients

Outstanding Contributor Award

This award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to Early Intervention/Special Education in Kansas. Here are what some colleagues have shared in their nomination letters: “I could not be more excited to endorse Diane Alexander as an Outstanding Contributor to the state of Kansas’ Infant Toddler Services program Diane is a crucial part of the Infant Toddler team and has been for many years. She responds promptly to questions and is always willing to help out in any way she can. Diane is extremely knowledgeable about all the little details that are so important in a program the size of Infant Toddler Services. On those rare occasions when she is not able to give you the information you are needing she will investigate and find the correct answer.”


Diane Alexander

Outstanding Contributor Award

This award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to Early Intervention/Special Education in Kansas. One colleague stated in her award nomination letter: “She is a highly dedicated professional who knows how to motivate and inspire her learners. Both in the classroom and in the field, Dr. Thompson is a dynamic and powerful communicator who possesses the gift of being able to make complex topics understandable and complex issues solvable.” Another colleague stated, “Barb can be considered a pioneer regarding services for young children with disabilities and their families. Notably, Barb was the Project Co-Director for Circle of Inclusion, which moved the field of early education forward to recognize and implement inclusive services.”


Barbara Thompson and Jennifer Oborny (Right)

Award of Excellence

This award honors an individual who has made significant contributions to the development of young children with disabilities and their families. is Gayle Stuber. Here are some highlights of her award nomination letters. “At the core of her soul, Gayle is an advocate for early childhood and early childhood special education and simply wants the best for young children and their families. Through leadership, as an administrator of statewide programs and her role in professional organizations, Gayle has worked tirelessly for the advancement of services in Kansas for our youngest learners.” “With regard to important and impactful initiatives, Dr. Stuber lead the development and implementation of the Kansas School Readiness (and revision) initiative and the Kansas Early Learning Standards work. She was successful in bringing together early childhood experts across programs and institutions to develop end products that transcended individual programs and settings to begin to establish common language and practices applicable to all learning settings to support good outcomes for children.” “Gayle is a fierce advocate for the value of early learning experiences, beginning at birth, and the link between high quality, developmentally appropriate early care and education for infants and young children.”


Gail Stuber and Jennifer Oborny

Direct Service Provider Award

This award is presented to a current KDEC member who has made significant contributions to young children with exceptionalities and their families. The candidate for this award should have less than ten years of direct service in the field. This award honors those who are beginning their career and have made exemplary contributions in their local area. Here is what a family had to say about Miranda, “At the Parent-Teacher Conference last fall, Miranda was quick to point out our son’s strengths and demonstrated that she has taken the time to get to know him, his likes and interests, as well as “what makes him tick.” Only after discussing his positive attributes, skills, and areas of improvement did she share areas which were more challenging to him. It felt empowering as a parent to hear his difficulties described as “challenges” vs. “problems.” “Miranda knows how to offer encouragement to both students and parents when a gentle nudge is needed! She gently suggested that I start working more diligently with my son at home with the task of putting on his coat independently. Dressing oneself is a great milestone that I had overlooked allowing him to master in my own hurry to rush around daily. He mastered the task very quickly and enjoyed such a feeling of self-pride!”

Miranda Johnston

Miranda Johnston and Stacey Mayberry (Right)

Outstanding Student Member

This award is presented to a current full time student member of DEC/KDEC who has contributed a great deal of time, energy, or support to early childhood special education. This can include activities within their Student CEC Chapter and/or to children who are exceptional and their families. families. This year’s award winner is Maggie Beneke. Here is what one of her colleagues shared about her in their nomination letters: “Maggie has excelled at the University of Kansas Early Childhood Unified graduate program. She is known for being conscientious, dedicated, dependable, eager to learn, and goes above and beyond with her scholarly and supervisory work. Throughout her program, Maggie has established that she is not only a skilled teacher, as demonstrated by her exceptional co-teaching experiences, but also someone who deeply cares for her our field and all those who have been marginalized in our world.”

Maggie Breneke

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