Two students and a teacher have been selected to represent the Cuyahoga Heights Schools for Excellence in Education, an annual award sponsored by the Educational Service Center (ESC) of Northeast Ohio.
Madison Rabant, a fourth grader at Cuyahoga Heights Elementary School, received this year’s Student Award. This award acknowledges achievements of school-age children and youth with special needs in Northeast Ohio. According to those who nominated her for this award, Madison always comes to school with a smile on her face. She always has a positive attitude and gives 100% in whatever she does. She is kind to classmates and empathetic to other children's feelings. Sometimes academics are challenging for Madison, but she perseveres and always demonstrates a desire to do great work. She is a great leader within her classroom and among other students in the school. She leads by example, by always putting forth a good attitude and a great work ethic, even when addressing obstacles that may be challenging for her. She isn't afraid to speak up when she sees something that doesn't seem right. She is friendly, fair, honest, and always follows the school rules. Both staff and students appreciate her smiles and hugs every day! Her kindness, perseverance, and positive demeanor will help her do great things in life. Madison is the daughter of Nicole Gabor of Brooklyn Heights.
Elizabeth Heller, Cuyahoga Heights Elementary School second grader is the recipient of the Peer Award. This award recognizes students who have established meaningful relationships and are exemplary role models with all students, including students with disabilities. Liz is kind and caring and strives to help all students within her school. Overall, Liz goes above and beyond to ensure all students are included in the school community. She makes sure all peers are included in activities. She is sensitive to how others are feeling, and reaches out to help those in need. If she notices a friend falling behind in line or struggling to complete an academic task, she happily offers assistance. She does a wonderful job during group activities to make sure everyone has a partner or group. If she notices someone is alone, she immediately invites them to join her group. If she sees students playing alone at recess, she finds ways to include them. She does an excellent job of showing others what true friendship and leadership is all about. Academically, Liz is thoughtful and takes her time to ensure her own success. Her impact within the classroom is undeniable when you see her interact with her friends and fellow peers.
Kelsey Healy is Cuyahoga Heights’ Educator Award recipient. This award honors educators who have developed exemplary instructional strategies and creative programs to engage students with disabilities. She is the only intervention specialist in Pre-K and is the case manager for almost every student with disabilities in the program. She is patient, caring, kind, and consistent. Although she is a pre-kindergarten teacher, she contributes to the school and the district as a whole. As an advocate for students with disabilities, she strives to place them in their least restrictive environments, yet still enable them to excel to their full potential. She provides expanded opportunities to keep preschoolers in the general education classroom whenever possible. She teaches the district’s youngest students how to navigate the school environment and to interface with their peers. She holds students to high expectations and encourages them to work toward their full potential. She has opened the doors of Cuyahoga Heights Elementary School to a population of students who would have been outplaced in the past. An active member of several First Ring, school, and district committees and teams, she shares her knowledge, expertise and strategies with her colleagues. She models acceptance and inclusion on a daily basis.
For the past 43 years, the Educational Service Center (ESC) of Northeast Ohio and State Support Team – Region 3 have recognized students with special needs, peers, and educators with the annual Excellence in Education Awards. Because of COVID-19, the annual recognition brunch has not been held in-person the past three years. However, a video was created this year to celebrate and honor these incredible individuals, along with the great things that are happening in special education in Northeast Ohio. This year’s recipients also received a yard sign and certificate.
“This recognition event gives us a chance to pause amidst all of the hecticness of a school year and truly just be thankful for special people in this world,” said Superintendent Bob Mengerink, ESC of Northeast Ohio. “I know that in my 51 years as an educator, it is students and staff, such as those recognized here today, who have made me not only a better educator or administrator, but also a better person. They have forced me to reflect on how I might lead or inspire, but also how I treat others. How I can show compassion. How I should never give up on myself or others, even when it’s hard.”
CLICK HERE to watch the video tribute.