Making A Difference Award

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2016 Margaret Shepherd Teaching Award!

The nomination DEADLINE is February 19 at 12:00 PM.

Please scroll down this page to submit a nomination via the embedded form!


This award, presented at the annual Spring VAISEF Conference, is intended to recognize a staff member that truly is “making a difference” in the lives of young people.  The award is open to all Professional and Para Professional Staff (except teachers, CEOs, presidents, and executive level positions) who work with students with special needs and is employed by a VAISEF member. Directors of schools should nominate someone from their facility who demonstrates a level of excellence and commitment to their children.

Description (definition) of exceptional services:

  • Services made over and above standards of expectations established for the staff position being recognized
  • Creative and innovative services that have assisted the organization (school) to far exceed its goals and objectives for the success of the students

Criteria for exceptional services:

  1. Significant contribution
  2. Extended Family Services
  3. Exceptional guidance, educational and or life lessons service to children with special needs and their families
  4. Innovative cutting edge services to students demonstrated by verifiable results
  5. Development of creative ways to reach students with special needs to make a difference in their lives documented by results
  6. Investigation and research of new alternatives for developing, counseling, educating students with special needs
  7. Mentoring and coaching success strategies that are demonstrated by verifiable results

Prior Award Recipients

2015 – Terry Tinsley, Ph.D., Youth For Tomorrow
2014 – Love Jones, Youth For Tomorrow
2013 – Setric Powell, Pathways Day School
2012 – Jim Gaul, Little Keswick School
2011 – Marianne Stinson, Rivermont School – Tidewater
2010 – Karen Steshko, Phillips School ~ Annandale
2009 – Kevin Kennedy, Timber Ridge School
2008 – Susan Autry, Oakwood School

Nomination Guidelines

  • Staff may be nominated by any employee of a school, but the school’s program director (CEO, Head of School, Executive Director, Principal, or equivalent supervisor) MUST authorize the nomination before submission.  Letters of support from parents, students and staff other than the person nominating will not be considered in the selection process.
  • Please refrain from using the name of the nominee or name of your school anywhere in the answers to the nomination questions, as they are judged in a blind process. Only VAISEF staff will know the name of the teacher and school until a selection is made.
  • Only one nomination per school.  (If more than one nomination is submitted from a single school, VAISEF staff will determine which one is sent to the judges.)
  • The deadline for nomination submissions is February 19, 2016 at 12:00 PM.

The following questions are asked on the nomination form. Each question’s response may be NO LONGER than 200 words.

  1. How does the candidate exceed his/her role to provide exceptional service to students?
  2. How has the candidate demonstrated creative and innovative services that have assisted the organization to far exceed its goals for the success of students?
  3. Explain how this candidate provides strength, guidance, and support to special needs children and families?
  4. Open-ended response in support of the nomination.
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