A teacher who started her career in education as a teacher assistant and a teacher assistant who’s been encouraged by her supervisors to become a teacher have been honored by LCPS’s Exceptional Children’s Department for their stellar work in the classroom.
Denise Herring of Northwest Elementary School is the 2017-2018 Exceptional Children’s Teacher of the Year and Kimberly Whitfield of Rochelle Middle School is the Exceptional Children’s Teacher Assistant of the Year.
The honors were announced Tuesday during opening day activities for the district’s EC staff.
Herring and Whitfield were presented a plaque and gifts from the district and will be LCPS’s guests at the annual state Exceptional Children’s Conference this fall, where they will be recognized as district winners.
After working in mental health for several years, Herring joined the staff of Northwest in 2000 as a teacher assistant in a regular ed classroom but soon transferred to an EC class. She completed her degree in special education while working and moved into a teaching role at Northwest.
The citation read during the awards presentation called Herring “a model teacher.” It noted her interest in professional development and her record of training interns who have gone on to become EC teachers. “She thinks out of the box to find ways for her students to be successful,” it read.
“Mrs. Herring is a tremendous asset to the Northwest staff,” her principal, Heather Walston, said. “She works tirelessly to ensure student needs are met, while effectively creating a bridge between regular education and the Exceptional Children’s program. She goes above and beyond to aid in promoting a positive climate at Northwest. I am thankful to have her on my team!”
An LCPS employee since 1999, Whitfield worked at Teachers Memorial and Sampson before joining the staff at Rochelle.
Her citation noted that she “can always be counted on to put students first and has always been a wonderful asset to the classroom as an instructional assistant.”
She has the skills of a teacher, according to Julie Hill, assistant director of the Exceptional Children’s Department. “We have asked many times if she would please consider going back to school to be an EC teacher,” Hill said.