Wait, please...

Award Recipients

Dr. Deborah Ziegler: Recipient of DISES International Leadership Award

Dr. Deborah Ziegler has made extraordinary contributions and accomplishments in her leadership and advocacy work to promote inclusive education for individuals with disabilities and their families throughout the world over the past several decades. Dr. Ziegler has demonstrated strong leadership skills in her roles as Assistant Executive Director and Director of Policy, Advocacy and Global Services at the Council of Exceptional Children for the past 20 years. In these roles she has initiated several global projects and policies that have contributed greatly to improving services for individuals with disabilities in Kuwait, Russia, the Ukraine, and other Eastern European countries in need of the knowledge and professional development for teachers and parents to advance their education agenda for individuals with disabilities. Dr. Ziegler is recognized for her impact and global efforts to advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities at the international level. Her work on the boards of several international disability organizations has focused on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and is reflected in her work as Editor of the book, Inclusion for ALL: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities- one significant voice to advocate for inclusive education throughout the world. Therefore, we, as members of the Division of Special Education and Services do proclaim the DISES Distinguished International Leadership Award be named the Dr. Deborah Ziegler DISES Distinguished International Leadership Award.

Beckett Haight: Recipient of DISES Distinguished International Teacher's Award

Beckett Haight serves as a Learning Support Teacher as well as the English Language Learner Coordinator at the Canguu Community School in Bali, Indonesia. Beckett holds a Master's Degree in special education as well as in Educational Technology. He has been involved in the field for 20+ years as a volunteer, teacher and teacher assistant. Additionally, it is noted that Beckett is a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Exceptional Needs.

Katherine Brendli: Recipient of the DISES Student Research Award

Katherine Brendli is a doctoral candidate in Special Education and Disability Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University expected to complete her work in May 2020 with a Dissertation on the Effects of a self-advocacy intervention on the ability of college students with intellectual and developmental disabilities to request academic accommodations.

Katherine presently serves as a Research Assistant within her department where she is the lead member of the Teacher Retention and Transition Lab involving her in grant work, administration, curriculum development, research, and much more. She is active in her scholarly work to include writing and presentations and is the co-founder of the soon to be Cross-cultural Student Association in partnership with the Asian-American Education Studies. The goal of the Cross-cultural Student Association is to encourage international and interdisciplinary collaboration between graduate students across cultures and areas of study. Dr. Xu, a professor in the Department of Counseling and Special Education at Virginia Commonwealth writes in her letter of nomination that Katherine has been an outstanding doctoral student from all aspects, and her leadership and service on international collaborations and projects make her an exceptionally strong candidate for this award. As a student leader, special education researcher, and cultural ambassador, Katie has made significant and meaningful contributions to our international projects in China.

Dr. Michele Meredith: Recipient of DISES International Leadership Award

Dr. Michele Meredith was presented the DISES Distinguished International Leadership Award at the DISES conference in Jamaica in June. Dr. Meredith has made many significant contributions to special education and inclusionary practices. Her international accomplishments include contributing a chapter on Equity and Inclusion for the Technical Report on the Status and Challenges of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 Education 2030 in the Caribbean (September, 2018), leading professional development in the British Virgin Islands, consulting on a program reform initiative in Tobago and serving on the Tobago Special Education Advisory Committee. Dr. Meredith is currently serving as a Visiting Associate Professor at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York.

In her native country of Jamaica Dr. Meredith led the strategic development plan for the special education portion of the Education System Transformation Program for the Ministry of Education. She was a major contributor to the design and development of inclusive educational practices including the Proficiency Pathways for Secondary Education. She designed professional development materials for the Proficiency Pathway, Team Teach Positive Behavior Intervention and Restorative Discipline (in association with Team Teach Asia). She also developed Guidelines for Identification and Referral, a Handbook for Principals and Guidelines for Mainstream Support and School to Work Transition. In addition to developing a plan for life after school for students with disabilities, she also implemented island-wide workshops and presentations for professional development of in-service and pre-service teachers. Dr. Meredith also produced a resource book and implementation guide for identifying program options for gifted students.

Dr. Suzanne Martin: Recipient of DISES Distinguished International Leadership Award

On February 8 during the DISES reception at the CEC International Convention in Indianapolis Dr. Suzanne Martin of the University of Central Florida was presented the DISES Distinguished International Leadership Award for her outstanding work and leadership in international special education. Dr. Martin received her Ph.D. in special education administration from the University of Florida and is currently Professor of Exceptional Education at the University of Central Florida.

She served as CEC President 2003-04 and was on CEC’s workgroup on international roles and was consulting scholar to CEC on a training program on HIV/AIDS. Dr. Martin created the Inaugural Milestone Millennium Maker Awards, a program that celebrates women and men who improve the lives of women and promote the advancement of the United Nations Mission and Millennium Development Goals.

Dr. Martin is a founding member and is currently on the Executive Board for the World Academy for the Future of Women. She was invited as one of six people to the UN in New York to meet with the Deputy Director for Partnership and Public Engagement to discuss expansion and partnership with the World Academy for the Future of Women and invited to the 9th Annual Women’s Symposium. She served on the steering committee for an inaugural US/China conference on special education. Dr. Martin has served on the Board of SIAS University in China and a joint US/China effort to develop university curricula based on Western and Eastern foundations.

Dr. Martin was presented the Teacher of Excellence Award at the University of Central Florida in 2009. In 2012 she was named Outstanding Professor in the state of Florida.

In a letter of support for her nomination for the DISES International Leadership Award, it was stated “ the special education doctoral program at UCF has an incredible number of students who pursue international components as a part of their studies/internships. They have studied and researched in Italy (UNESCO), UNRWA Palestine, Jordan, Botswana and Singapore. Her selection will not only serve as a fine addition to the set of previous recipients, but will provide an excellent example to DISES members and others about how to make differences internationally in special education.”

Dr. Aseel Alsuhaibani: Recipient of the DISES Student Research Award

Dr. Aseel Alsuhaibani, recipient of the DISES Student International Student Research Award, was awarded her Ph.D. from George Mason University in the spring of 2018. Her dissertation research was on converting the ARC’s Self Determination Scale from English to Arabic since no such self-determination assessment instrument is available for use in Arabic speaking countries. This process involved far more than merely language conversion. It was also necessary to adapt or eliminate some assessment items to be more appropriate for children and youth with intellectual, learning and multiple disabilities living in Arabic countries. The adapted version of the scale had to be a validated assessment for use within Arabic cultures. Her research was done in Saudi Arabia with a large group of students using appropriate statistical methods. As a result of Dr. Alsuhaibani’s research, there now is a validated Arabic assessment of self-determination for students with disabilities living in these countries.