Copper Country ISD gives out annual awards

HANCOCK – The Copper Country Intermediate School District held its annual Parent Advisory Committee for Special Education Dinner Awards Ceremony last week at the CCISD building in Hancock.

For the past 13 years, the PAC has been honoring people in the three county area who have made an outstanding contribution to the education and understanding of children with disabilities.

Awards were presented to 15 people from various school districts, in nine categories, including the Make A Difference A Difference, “Spirit of Inclusion” Award, which was awarded, not to an individual, but the entire third grade class of of the TR Davis Elementary School of the Dollar Bay-Tamarack City School Area Schools.

The “Spirit of Inclusion” Award was new this year, as was awarding an entire class of 18 children, but Cindy Figures, PAC chair said the class was an inspiration.

“We all know what ‘inclusion’ means, and it’s pretty much what we’re all about,” Figures said during the presentation. ‘Inclusion, as a parent – special needs – is huge, and these kids do it naturally. And hats off to the children, of course, and to the parents, and to the school.”

Christina Norland, principal of the DB-TC school, was on hand to speak at the presentation.

“I had mentioned earlier that I was inspired throughout the year by several different people at school,” Norland said, “and one of them was Mrs. Kentala, the third grade teacher, who has an impeccable and perfect classroom for Alex, our autistic child, and the rest of the students, and Miss Aho, who you would never guess is in her first year of teaching Special Ed with us full-time, because of her professionalism and expertise and patience, but also the third graders, the other students in Alex’s class, have been an inspiration to all of us.”

The Make A Difference Award is presented to a winning nominated volunteer, student or group of students, who make a difference in special education in a school setting.

This year the award was presented to BHK as a group, and also to Reid Hamar, a high school student at Hancock High School. Hamar was nominated because of his role as a peer mentor.

Special recognition was given to three personnel retiring from CCISD: Linda Reynolds, autism and special education coordinator; Jane Shanahan, teacher consultant for LD/assistive technology; and Kim Tunstall, Instructional for CCISD.

“This awards program is a uniquely wonderful event,” Figures said, “and arguably one of the most touching programs most of us will ever attend or take part of.”