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.
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 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.