2015 Inclusive Practice Award


March 3, 2015


News Release
Contact: Christie Reinhardt
Phone: (907) 269-8462
email: christie.reinhardt@alaska.gov


The following news release is shared by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.


The Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education established the Inclusive Practice Award to recognize outstanding educators who work to ensure students with disabilities have the opportunity for an inclusive education with their peers as part of the general education curriculum. Nominations are made by parents, students and educators. This year there were a wide range of nominees; special education teachers and classrooms, program directors, and a couple of whole schools including a variable term residential program. The award is given each February at the Alaska Statewide Special Education Conference (ASSEC). This year’s award was presented Tuesday February 10, 2015 at a luncheon at the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage. It was attended by more than 200 special educators, administrators, parents and advocates from all over the state.


The 2015 winner of the Inclusive Practice Award is an entire school, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School in Sitka. The team at Keet Gooshi Heen includes an average of 35-40 certified staff and 20-25 classified staff. The principal  is Casey Demmert. This outstanding school works as a team to meet the needs of each student and team includes regular and special education teachers, paraprofessionals, administration, food service and custodians, parents and school board. This is a school that shows that including students with disabilities in the regular education classroom is not just best practice for students with disabilities, but good for the whole school. This year Keet Gooshi Heen achieved an ASPI score of 5 stars, with 100% growth in all areas including special education. This school asks “What do kids need? What is best for this student” and then does whatever it takes to make that happen. They go above and beyond even the highest expectations and are a success and an inspiration.


The Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education would like to commend the other 2015 Inclusive Practice Award nominees:

  • Regina Feliciano, Nondalton School, Nondalton, Lake and Peninsula School Distirct
  • Kara Freeborn (pictured right),  Structured Learning Classroom, Firelake Elementary, Eagle River, Anchorage School District
  • Le Esia O’Sullivan & Claire Steffen,  Manokotak School, Manokotak , Southwest Regions School District
  • Patrick Pillai, Special Education Service Agency(SESA), Anchorage
  • Mary Roed, Bobbie Spence and staff, Redoubt Elementary, Soldotna, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District 
  • Cynthia Fudzinski, Kathleen Evenson, Jeanette Ducker, & Diane Duncan, Tustumena Elementary, Kenai, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District 
  • Chris Brown & Pete Brown, Valdez High School, Valdez, Valdez City School District
  • Voyage to Excellence, Statewide variable-term school district, Anchorage, Chugach School District


For more information on the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education, please visit our website at: http://health.hss.state.ak.us/gcdse/ . If you know any of these great educators please be sure and congratulate them on their amazing job of educating children of all different kinds of abilities!




Anchorage School District website accessibility and nondiscrimination notice. The Anchorage School District is an equal opportunity provider.