Michele Parmelee, Antietam School District, named recipient of the 2024 Annie Sullivan Award

The Annie Sullivan Award recognizes local educators for their service to students with special needs.

The Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU) honored 20 Annie Sullivan Award nominees on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, and of the nominees, Ms. Michele Parmelee was named the recipient of the 2024 Annie Sullivan Award.

A reception and award ceremony was recently held at the BCIU Main Office Building in Muhlenberg Township. This year’s ceremony was a historic occasion, recognizing an unprecedented 20 nominees, representing each of the 18 school districts and two career and technology centers within Berks County.

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Colleagues, friends, and family gathered for the event, celebrating the outstanding service and dedication of these individuals to the advocacy and well-being of students with disabilities. Adding to the significance of the occasion, Dr. Amy Pastorak, Assistant Director of the Bureau of Special Education at the Pennsylvania Department of Education, was in attendance to provide opening comments for the evening.

Photo courtesy of The Berks County Intermediate Unit: Ms. Parmelee with the other 19 nominees and BCIU officials.

The 2024 Annie Sullivan Award recipient, Ms. Michele Parmelee, Paraprofessional for Autistic Support at the Mount Penn Primary Center, has served the Antietam School District (ASD) for over 13 years. She serves the Primary Center’s low-incidence classrooms, establishing strong working relationships with her colleagues and advocating for the needs of the students she supports.

In addition to her work for the ASD, Ms. Parmelee is raising two children on the autism spectrum. She has remained their biggest advocate and regularly participates in community events with them.

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In a nomination form, colleagues of Ms. Parmelee shared, “Michele is an amazing colleague who gets to know each student individually and seamlessly implements strategies the student will benefit from to help them reach their goals. Her life experience and skills combined allow her to provide dignity and specialized care for each child she encounters who has special needs. She has an innate sense of how to grade the difficulty level of tasks to improve students’ independence and provide them with a ‘just-right’ challenge to help them grow.” Ms. Parmelee’s colleagues continued, “Michelle adapts activities and assignments to fit the needs of her students. She also promotes kindness and positivity with the students.”

Mrs. Staci Fink, Supervisor of Special Education, ASD; and Ms. Becky Kohr, Director of Pupil Services, ASD, collectively shared, “Michele always comes to work with enthusiasm and drive. She truly cares about the students she works with… Our team is so lucky to have Michelle on it! She is an asset in the field, and we would be lost without her.”

In addition to Ms. Michele Parmelee, the 2024 Annie Sullivan Award nominees were:

Miss Rowyn C. Deininger, Member of Class of 2024, Student Intern, Boyertown Area School District
Mrs. Serena Kohler, Paraprofessional, Brandywine Heights Area School District
Mrs. Barbara Boland, Coordinator of Student Assistance Program, Conrad Weiser Area School District
Mrs. Michelle Maynard, IEP Facilitator, Daniel Boone Area School District
Mrs. Alycia Lenart, K-12 Student Support Coordinator, Exeter Township School District
Mrs. Wendy Wunderlich, High School Learning Support Teacher, Fleetwood Area School District
Mr. Troy Murphy, Transition Coordinator, Governor Mifflin School District
Mrs. Tabatha Vega, Emotional Support Teacher, Hamburg Area School District
Mrs. Martha Bergman, Paraprofessional, Kutztown Area School District
Mrs. Michelle Heckman, Elementary Life Skills Teacher, Muhlenberg School District
Mrs. Elizabeth Good, K-12 Special Education Instructional Advisor, Oley Valley School District
Ms. Leslie Esterly, Multiple Disabilities Support Teacher, Reading School District
Mrs. Heather Weller, Special Education Paraprofessional, Schuylkill Valley School District
Mrs. Holly Baer, Learning Support Teacher, Tulpehocken Area School District
Mrs. Elizabeth Techman, English Language Specialist, Twin Valley School District
Miss Madison Hynoski, Autistic Support Teacher, Wilson School District
Mrs. Vicki Mlynar, Special Education Paraprofessional, Wyomissing Area School District
Mrs. Heather Wargo, Educational Facilitator, Berks Career & Technology Center
Ms. Christa Nicholas, Paraprofessional, Reading Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center

The Annie Sullivan Award is given in recognition of an individual who has worked to encourage the understanding and promotion of students with disabilities in his or her school or community.

Annie Sullivan was Helen Keller’s devoted teacher and mentor who was nearly blind herself. After treatment, she regained her sight and committed herself to teaching the blind and deaf.

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