Alumna, professor wins two state awards

Saturday, November 2, 2002

A high school friend conned her into helping teach a weekly religion class for severely handicapped children, Professor Janine Dahms-Walker recalls. The 70 students were deaf, the toughest of the tough in terms of their ability to interact in the classroom, and we knew no sign language. But she ended up feeling that she had made a positive difference.

Dahms-Walker spent four years at a Minneapolis inner city school where 98 percent of the students were in special education or on Title IX (below national norms in reading or math). It was like having a whole class of special education students.

Her continued concern for students with disabilities, and her active involvement in professional and community affairs have earned her special recognition.

Dahms-Walker was named Administrator of Excellence by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators and Leader of Excellence for Special Education by the Minnesota Administrators for Special Education at a statewide recognition ceremony on April 18.

This is the first time an educator has received the state's highest award from both organizations.

The associate professor for Educational Leadership in the St. Cloud State University College of Education has been a mentor to many teachers and administrators and has focused on the development of education leaders throughout the state. She initiated a professional development system that supports special education directors and was instrumental in developing a statewide Special Education Leadership Project (LEAD).

Why the continued focus on helping educators work with students with disabilities? Because so many good things can happen.

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