Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

August 16, 2004

Whitworth Education Professor Recipient of
Excellence in Teacher Preparation Award

Betty Williams, professor of education and coordinator of the Special Education Program for the Whitworth College School of Education, as well as a devoted advocate for children with disabilities, is the recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Teacher Preparation Award. Williams, who was selected to receive the award by the Washington State Board of Education, will be honored at an official ceremony Aug. 27 during the board's next meeting, in Brush Prairie, Wash. State Board of Education President Warren T. Smith and Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-18th Legislative District) will present the award to Williams.

"I am honored to be chosen for this award," Williams says. "Whitworth's highly effective teacher-preparation program has given me the opportunity to introduce our students to issues and techniques in special education. Our graduates are equipped to be truly inclusive of all children in their classrooms and in the community. I have a great passion for improving the lives of children with disabilities, and to be a part of Whitworth's teacher preparation program is a huge reward in itself."

The award, which Whitworth Professor (now emeritus) of Education Doris K. Liebert received in 2001, is open to educators in any teacher-preparation programs approved by the State Board of Education. The award recognizes excellence in teaching, and innovative developments and efforts in teacher-preparation as it relates to state learning goals, leadership among colleagues on campus and in the community, contributions to the field of education, and teacher preparation and communication with legislators, common school teachers, administrators and others.

"Betty is a remarkable teacher-educator and is very deserving of this award," says Dennis Sterner, dean of Whitworth's School of Education and recipient of the same award in 1998. "She has dedicated most of her professional life to preparing young men and women to teach children with special needs. And in addition to being an outstanding scholar and teacher, Betty is one of the most humble, caring people I've ever met."

Randall Michaelis, who chairs Whitworth's Department of Education and who nominated Williams for the award, adds, "Betty serves as a mentor to her students, for whom she models excellent teaching; she inspires them with her passion and dedication for serving students with disabilities. Betty is the primary reason why the School of Education is seeing an increased number of students entering the field of special education."

In addition to the recognition, the award carries with it a $2,500 stipend to the Whitworth College Professional Education Advisory Board to enhance professional development. Williams says she will use the award money to visit exemplary treatment programs for children with autism in California, Florida, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. These visits will allow her to interview professionals and parents participating in the programs and will contribute to her forthcoming textbook, Living with Autism.

Williams joined the Whitworth School of Education in 1998 after teaching for nearly 20 years at Gonzaga University. In 2002 she helped draft the Spokane Guilds' School's successful application for a $500,000 appropriations bill for research on serving infants and toddlers with disabilities. Williams served as director of the federal project, which led to the publication of a new text, Directions in Early Intervention and Assessment (2003), edited by Williams.

She is also the co-author of Very Young Children with Special Needs: A Formative Approach for the 21st Century, 3rd Edition (2004), as well as numerous book chapters and journal articles on human development, behavioral solutions and intervention for at-risk children.

Williams works tirelessly with teachers, schools, other special educators, and with local and state committees to serve students with disabilities and to provide them with quality teachers, Michaelis says. She also helped to draft the state's special-education endorsement competencies and is very active in local, state, regional, and national organizations for teaching and advocacy of students with disabilities.

Williams, who serves as current president of the Whitworth faculty for 2003-05, also established and oversees the Whitworth School of Education's Host Family Project, which pairs education students with families who have children with disabilities. The project was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education's Partnership for Family Involvement in 2000 as a best practice for teacher preparation.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college enrolls 2,300 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs.


Dennis Sterner, dean of the Whitworth School of Education, (509) 777-4411 or dsterner@whitworth.edu.

Randall Michaelis, chair of Whitworth's Department of Education, (509) 777-4402 or rmichaelis@whitworth.edu.

Julie Riddle, public information specialist, Whitworth College, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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