New Stuyahok special education teachers receive state award for inclusive practices

Feb 13, 2018

Ben Griese and Nicole Wagner received the Inclusive Practices Award from the Alaska Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education last week.

Fishing trips are among the special outings that Ben Griese and Nicole Wagner have planned for students in New Stuyahok's special education program.
Credit photo courtesy of Chief Ivan Blunka School

The Alaska Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education selected Ben Griese and Nicole Wagner from nominees around the state for the Inclusive Practices Award. The honor recognizes Griese and Wagner’s work as the special education teachers for New Stuyahok’s Chief Ivan Blunka School. Specifically, it is a commendation for involving special education students in school-wide environments and instruction. This year, roughly 20 students participate in New Stuyahok’s special education program.

Vice Principal Meghan Redmond said that both teachers dedicate a significant amount of time giving students with disabilities the extra support they need as well as helping them integrate into school-wide activities.

“They are constantly looking for ways to include them in the regular education and then going above and beyond for those students, taking them out into the community, taking them fishing, planning swim trips and just doing every single thing they possibly can for their students,” said Redmond.

Nicole Wagner is in her second year as a special education teacher in New Stuyahok.
Credit photo courtesy of Chief Ivan Blunka School

Redman highlighted that Wagner has introduced a curriculum she uses with her special education students, Zones of Regulation, into the school-wide curriculum. The teaching tool helps students develop emotional control and self-regulation skills. Griese has learned American Sign Language so that he can help one of his students better integrate into the classroom. 

As Griese and Wagner work together and with their students, Redmond said that they exemplify the team mentality that is a part of the vision for Chief Ivan Blunka School.  They received the award at the Alaska Statewide Special Education Conference on February 6.

Contact the author at avery@kdlg.org or 907-842-5281.