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Departments present Whelan Kansas Leadership for Learning Award

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

LAWRENCE — Each year, the Department of Special Education and the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas recognize the work of educators in Kansas with the Whelan Kansas Leadership for Learning Award. 

The 2016 award has been granted to individuals in two districts. Judy Martin, director of special services and federal programs at the Gardner Edgerton School District, has been recognized for her special education leadership. Elaine Fasulo, director of special services, and her Olathe School District special services team were recognized for their work on behalf of students with disabilities by supporting special education teams throughout the Olathe school system. Special services team members are: Deb Chappell, assistant director; Carol Affholder, administrator; and coordinators Kathy Easterly, Cristan Philipp, Tom Salas, and Heidi Schneider.

The Department of Special Education and the Center for Research on Learning will present the award at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in the Valentine Room at The Eldridge Extended property in Lawrence, followed by a presentation by the awardees. Individuals interested in attending the presentation are asked to RSVP to

“This award recognizes leadership that has come from both districts to ensure that students with disabilities and their families realize the full range of opportunities to learn in public schools,” said Elizabeth Kozleski, chair of the Department of Special Education. “In the end, what matters is that students are able to graduate fully prepared to become citizens of their communities with the skills to develop and maintain social networks and live full, productive lives with dignity and respect.”

The Whelan Kansas Leadership for Learning Award honors former KU dean, chair and professor Richard Whelan, who served the Department of Special Education and the School of Education. In retirement he worked tirelessly as a mediator for families of children with disabilities and local school districts. Whelan’s legacy — commitment to improving opportunities to learn, seeking research-based solutions to the prevention and remediation of disabilities, and bringing together researchers and practitioners — is deeply embedded in this annual recognition of Kansans who focus on improving learning opportunities for all students.  

About the Center for Research on Learning
The Center for Research on Learning is an internationally recognized research and development organization noted for creating solutions that dramatically improve quality of life, learning and performance, especially for those who experience barriers to success. Both the Department of Special Education and the Center for Research on Learning focus on improving outcomes for those whose struggles to learn are complicated by experience, abilities, culture, opportunity and access to opportunities to learn and succeed.

About the Department of Special Education
The Department of Special Education is housed in the KU School of Education, located in Lawrence, Kansas. The department is the No. 1-ranked public special education department in the United States.

10th among public universities for its master’s and doctoral programs
—U.S. News & World Report
#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
Assists public schools and other partners in all 105 Kansas counties
$938,377 in scholarship funds awarded to 420+ students
Research expenditures of $36,804,773 for 2011-12
Research from KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, assists educators, children, and families across the United States
The award-winning special education faculty published 140 refereed articles, 11 books, and 60 chapters in 2015-16
Students with intellectual disabilities are participating in KU undergraduate programs through a grant-funded KU special education program
Researchers on a $3.5 million grant are collecting data on an innovative reading program designed to teach reading to students with the most significant disabilities in seven Kansas school districts
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
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