The Berks County Intermediate Unit honored the nominees and Jacqueline Westerfer, recipient of the 2020 Annie Sullivan Award, with a virtual reception and award ceremony on Oct. 22.

Colleagues, friends, and family gathered virtually to recognize the outstanding service and dedication of individuals to the advocacy and well-being of students with disabilities.

Westerfer, a paraprofessional for the Oley Valley School District, was nominated by Gina Finnerty, High School Principal, and Lindsay Wellman, Life Skills Teacher, for going above and beyond in her support role in the Life Skills classroom, helping with lesson plans, working with teachers, communicating with parents and administration, and providing a tremendous amount of support to the students.

In a nomination form for Westerfer, Finnerty stated, “Mrs. Jacqueline Westerfer has had a positive impact on our students and our school community through her selfless acts of caring and compassion for all students.”

She added, “Jackie works each and every day in service of our students and school community. Because of her positive attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to serve others, our students with the greatest need have opportunities for better lives.”

In her letter of support, Lindsay Wellman shared, “Jacqueline Westerfer has worked as a paraprofessional in my classroom for six years. Every year she upholds the same level of passion. Jackie maintains a positive rapport with students, demonstrates strong leadership skills, and has compassion for all. She contributes a strong work ethic and is helpful with getting new classroom staff acquainted with needs and teacher expectations. She is an essential part of the life skills team and her love for young adults shows in everything that she does.”

The 2020 Annie Sullivan Award nominees were:

• Tina Steckbeck, Secretary to the Director of Special Education, Antietam School District

• Karen Shriner, High School Art Teacher, Daniel Boone Area School District

• Kristin Bell, 1:1 Paraprofessional, Governor Mifflin School District

• Jessica Ortiz-Eichert, Life Skills Teacher, Kutztown Area School District

• Jacqueline Westerfer, Paraprofessional, Oley Valley School District

• Heather Foltz, Special Education Lead Teacher, Reading School District

• Gregory Schneider, School Psychologist, Twin Valley School District

• Anna Ackley, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Wilson School District

• Amy Miller-Cush, School Counselor, Wyomissing Area School District

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 his or her school or community. Annie Sullivan was Helen Keller’s devoted teacher and mentor who was nearly blind herself. After treatment, she regained her sight and committed herself to teaching the blind and deaf.

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