Distinguished Leader in Education Awards Conferred at Special Education Conference
The widespread apprehension over the state of the economy and the world together with hope in a new president who seems determined to lead Americans to better days, mirrored Education Update’s annual Special Education Conference 2009, held at Hunter College, which examined seemingly intractable problems but provided hope through helpful presentations and research findings from top experts in the field who are working tirelessly and creatively to come up with answers. Heroes are called for in challenging situations, and Education Update found them in the Conference’s three recipients of Distinguished Leader in Special Education awards, Merryl H. Tisch, vice chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, Lynda Katz, president of Landmark College, and Jeffrey M. Halperin, distinguished professor of psychology at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center. Each of the honorees has provided inspiration, leadership, and concrete remedies in a field that can be difficult and frustrating.
Merryl H. Tisch, Ed.D., was presented her award by Jennifer J. Raab, president of Hunter College. Raab noted Tisch is “in the frontlines” in many areas of civic life but, “Education is where she makes her mark…Her name is synonymous with educational advocacy and reform.” One of the early supporters of the Regional Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Hunter, “She makes sure every student gets a quality education, despite special circumstances.” Tisch, who taught first grade for several years, saluted her audience, many of whom were special ed teachers, for having “boots on the ground…and for what you do every day” She noted the State Department of Education will receive significant amounts of money under the Stimulus Plan; programs that prepare teachers for special education should negotiate for a share.
Lynda Katz, Ph.D., received her award from Dr. Bonnie Brown, superintendent of Special Education District 75, a city-wide 23,000-student public school district that serves pupils with special needs. Brown noted Katz’s prestigious credentials (she is a licensed psychologist who has practiced privately, taught at top universities, directed major research projects and published in the field) and remarkable successes at Landmark, a fully accredited college exclusively for students with specific learning disabilities. Brown applauded the Katz mindset which sees Landmark “not as a last chance,” but as “a bridge to learning, a safe harbor for students with a variety of disorders.” Katz accepted on behalf of all educators “who have taken on the task of ensuring all students are served, whatever their learning style or abilities.”
Jeffrey M. Halperin, Ph.D., received his award from Michael Arena, CUNY’s director of communications and marketing. Arena explained, as a professor of psychology and full-time member of the CUNY neuropsychology doctoral faculty, Halperin “is on the frontlines of trying to analyze and understand the problems you deal with every day.” Halperin has devoted twenty years to studying children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), often with support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As a product of New York City public schools, he is a “true believer in public education.” He has worked on predictors of course and outcome for children with ADHD and is currently trying to develop non-medication interventions for pre-school children at risk for behavior and cognitive difficulties.#