Working well together is always important for school staff, but during these socially distanced months, it’s been even more of a necessity.
The Stoughton Area School District Early Childhood Team was honored for their teamwork over the past year, winning The Wisconsin Division for Early Childhood’s 2021 Collaborative Team of the Year “Above and Beyond” award. Team members Gemini English-Rewey, Janet Molldrem, Jane Dean, Lisa Buechner, Amie Rivest, Kim Kicera, Mindy Holverson and Melissa Johnson received the honors during a virtual ceremony at the Preserving Early Childhood Conference, held April 14-15.
Awardees are nominated by their peers and supervisors because of the outstanding contributions they make to the lives of young children and their families, wrote Wisconsin Division for Early Childhood president Jen Kalis in an email to recipients.
“We hope that the award will serve as a constant reminder that you are a very important part of a group of people striving to help all young children to grow and develop into happy, healthy, and active members of our society,” she wrote.
The district’s Early Childhood special education team supports students, staff and families in a variety of ways, and this past year provided plenty of challenges.
District community information and resource coordinator Molly Shea said the team focuses on promoting students’ social, emotional, and behavioral outcomes by reducing the use of inappropriate discipline practices, promoting family engagement, using data for decision-making, and fostering inclusion in our community programs.
“This staff has been in the trenches since Sept. 1, working together for the littlest learners in Stoughton,” Shea wrote in an email to the Hub. “This team has worked together for many years and it shows.”
The staff works with parents, centers or pediatricians who submit a request for assistance though Child Find. Child Find is screening and evaluation designed to locate, identify young children with disabilities, and families in need of an Early Intervention Program (EIP) or Early Childhood special education, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
During the pandemic, staff adjusted and had students come to Sandhill Elementary School for Child Find and EIP services, and offered options for services, including virtual meetings and visiting preschool and 4K community programs.
Through some rough months during the pandemic, the staff showed the true definition of the word “team,” Shea wrote.
“They show respect for one another and value each other’s opinion, they listen to each other, work for the good of the group as a whole and share responsibilities,” she wrote. “On top of being knowledgeable and compassionate professionals, they are amazing human beings who go above and beyond for each other, their students, staff and families.”