EHT educators receive recognition from unexpected source

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Laura Stetser/Egg Harbor Township mother Beth Ameen and her 6 year-old son Josh, both in center, stand with his Davenport Primary School special education team as they receive commendations on Tuesday, July 8. From left are Bonnie Sebastian, supervisor of autistic and multiple disability services, behavioral specialist Susann Hermes, paraprofessional Crista Fopeano, parent Elizabeth Ameen and her son Joshua Ameen, paraprofessionals Elizabeth Salotti and Annemarie Steelman, teacher Rachel Prakash. Not pictured is school psychologist Erin Lichtenwalner. Laura Stetser/Egg Harbor Township mother Beth Ameen and her 6 year-old son Josh, both in center, stand with his Davenport Primary School special education team as they receive commendations on Tuesday, July 8. From left are Bonnie Sebastian, supervisor of autistic and multiple disability services, behavioral specialist Susann Hermes, paraprofessional Crista Fopeano, parent Elizabeth Ameen and her son Joshua Ameen, paraprofessionals Elizabeth Salotti and Annemarie Steelman, teacher Rachel Prakash. Not pictured is school psychologist Erin Lichtenwalner.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – An Egg Harbor Township mother went above her child’s teacher’s head to have her message heard. She even skipped the principal and the superintendent and went straight to her local legislator to get the message across.

 Her message was one of thanks. She wanted to be sure everyone knew how thankful her family is for the team of special education educators who have helped support her 6 year-old son Josh in his transition from Miami to New Jersey after the U.S. Coast Guard transferred his father Nick to its Air Station Atlantic City.

 “Two years ago my family moved to Egg Harbor Township from Miami,” she wrote in her letter to Assemblyman Chris Brown who in turn issued special letters of recognition to the educators which were shared with the school administration. “We couldn’t have asked for a better place to live.”

 Ameen said her son is a special needs student and had an existing individual education plan from his school in Miami that transferred with him to Davenport Primary School, where he was placed into the school’s multiple disabilities class. “I was hopeful the class would help him learn grade-appropriate curriculum and age-appropriate social skills. What I didn’t anticipate was the highly skilled, compassionate and talented team who were going to become such a huge support system for my son and my family.”

 The team was special education teacher Rachel Prakash, paraprofessionals Annmarie Steelman, Crista Fopeano and Liz Salotti, school psychologist Erin Lichtenwalner, program director Bonnie Sebastian, autism support staff member Susann Hermes and Principal Kevin Fricke.

 Ameen presented the team with their certificates from the assemblyman on Tuesday, July 8.

 She said Prakash created a classroom environment that allows her son to not just meet the benchmarks, but thrive.

 Ameen said her son has improved behavior, better socialization and is doing well in his academics.

 “This proficient group is like none other I have ever experienced. They work together to develop masterful plans to help the children progress at their very best,” Ameen wrote. “As a parent of a special needs child, or typical child for that matter, I know the importance of communication. With a high level of communication comes an opportunity to work with the teacher and aids to transform a child’s life for the better. With the end of the school year quickly approaching, I wanted to give a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart to this remarkable team of professional educators who has helped our son and our family so very much.”


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