BARRE TOWN – An enterprising special educator who saw a need and spearheaded the solution received a statewide honor for her work with the Barre Supervisory Union’s youngest students on Tuesday.

Melinda Schmalz, a member of the supervisory union’s early childhood special education team, was honored by the Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators (VCSEA), during a brief ceremony at Barre Town Middle and Elementary School.

Schmalz is the latest recipient of the VCSEA’s “Golden Apple Award,” which recognizes “exemplary effort and achievement on behalf of Vermont children.”

An early childhood special educator, Schmalz was recognized for spearheading the development and implementation of an extended day service model for Barre preschool students with intensive special needs. The program fully integrates the students into a mainstream preschool class in the morning, while providing them with individualized special education services in the afternoon.

VCSEA Executive Director Traci Sawyers was joined by the supervisory union’s early education directors, Sandra Cameron and Lauren May, in presenting Schmalz the award.

It was well deserved, according to Cameron.

“She (Schmalz) took full charge and responsibility for the development of a service that simply did not exist in our community before this year,” she said., “We are all so proud of her work and the outcomes of this program, which has resulted in astonishing accomplishments for our youngest learners with intensive special needs.”

Stacy Anderson, the supervisory union’s co-director of special services, praised Schmalz for her work on a program other districts have expressed interest in emulating.

“This year, Melinda (Schmalz) stepped up to fill an innovative and unique role in our supervisory union that has made a real difference in the lives of six preschool children and has made us all extremely proud,” she said.

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