The Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) honored nominees and winner of the 2013 Annie Sullivan Award at a reception and award ceremony on Thursday April 11 in Reading. Tilden Elementary School Learning Support Teacher Laura O’Malley was one of the nominees.
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 the school or community as Annie Sullivan did as Helen Keller’s teacher and mentor.
“It means a lot to me,” said O’Malley on being nominated. “It’s my first year at Hamburg and it’s been great working with the team here, as well as the students. I really appreciate the nomination.”
O’Malley, 26 of Emmaus, earned her undergraduate degree in Special Education from Kutztown University and then her master’s degree in Special Education from Lehigh University. She taught at Centennial School run through Lehigh University which is for children with behavioral difficulties. The missions of the school, according to its website, are serving children and youth with educational disabilities and preparing high quality teachers to enter the workforce of special education.
“I always wanted to work with children with special needs. Throughout college I worked at an after-school program for children with autism and really enjoyed it,” said O’Malley.
One aspect that she enjoys about teaching is helping the children find success in the classroom and community. She listed patience, strong communication skills and flexibility as helpful traits when working with younger and special needs students.
When asked about some of the most rewarding moments with her students, O’Malley responded, “building relationships with and helping students work toward their social and academic goals.”
For the importance of this type of award for teachers, O’Malley commented that it is nice to acknowledge educators as they work hard in and out of the classroom and care greatly for their students.
Other nominees were Andrea Eckenroad Special Education Learning Coach at Daniel Boon Area School District, Sue Raynes Learning Support Teacher at Muhlenberg Middle School, Karen Hertzog Learning Support Teacher at Reading High School, Northeast Middle School, Northwest Middle School and Lauer’s Park, Susan Plewa Alternative Education Teacher at Twin Valley High School.
Sue Raynes was honored as the 2013 Annie Sullivan Award recipient.