2021 Awards for Excellence in Deafblind Education

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Awards for Excellence

      • Trailblazer Award – Becky Harmon
      • Educational Intervener Award – Melody Rogers
      • Community Intervener Award – Luis Miranda
      • Ann Silverrain Award – Elaine Robertson
      • Marty Murrell Excellence in Education Award – Susie Tiggs

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Each Symposium year the Texas Deafblind Project asks for nominations for groups and individuals who demonstrate excellence in deafblind education as well as support and advocacy for individuals who are deafblind and their families. We are very pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Awards for Excellence in Deafblind Education. The Texas Deaflblind Project staff is very grateful to these exceptional individuals for the work they do to support individuals who are deafblind and their families. Congratulations on this honor for your colleagues and all of the Texas deafblind community.

Trail Blazer Award

Given to a family member(s) who has, through their advocacy or efforts on behalf of their family member with deafblindness, blazed a trail that has made it easier for other families who follow.

Becky Harmon, Parent, Nationally Certified Intervener and DBMAT Secretary, Fort Worth, TX

Becky Harmon, Trailblazer Award recipient for 2021.

(From Vivecca Hartman-President of DBMAT) ” Becky Harmon did whatever it took over the last year and a half, especially during COVID, to help DBMAT to be effective. We implemented our new website, converted our golf tournament to an on-line auction and she was there with us every step of the way – working hard!!!  She is a dedicated single mom, with personal health challenges, yet makes time to help others!!!  She is a great advocate and deserving of recognition. She has been very dedicated and willing to help in any capacity.  DBMAT is fortunate to have her on our Board.”

Becky is a parent of her 27-year-old daughter, Kersten, who is deafblind with multiple disabilities due to Partial Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum.  Becky has a 31-year background in education with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Composite Science from Texas Tech University, a Master of Science in Elementary Education from Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU), and a Master in School Counseling from Dallas Baptist University.  She is a Nationally Certified Intervener working with her daughter after completing coursework at Utah State University.  Becky continues to educate and empower others in the field of deafblindness by sharing information to help navigate the predicaments, challenges, and rewarding situations of loved one with deafblindness.  As Secretary of DBMAT (Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas) she helps with the website, newsletter, fundraising, yearly conference, as well as legislating at the Capitol for better quality of life for all deafblind individuals.  She was awarded the Olivia Cruz Award in 2020.  Becky is a lifetime member of DBMAT as well as NFADB (National Family Association of Deaf-Blind) where she was awarded a scholarship to attend the Deafblind International Conference in Cape Cod, Massachusetts as a parent advocate.  She has written multiple articles for DBMAT, NFADB as well as for TSBVI Outreach TX SenseAbilities newsletters.  She is currently serving on the National Family Health Care Transition Advisory Group for Got Transition, representing NFADB.  Becky loves gardening and is working to train a chocolate, labradoodle puppy as a service dog.

Educational  Intervener Award

Given to an intervener who has demonstrated excellence in their role of support to a child with deafblindness and whose efforts have contributed to the success of the intervener model in the educational setting in Texas.

Melody Rogers, Intervener, Mesquite ISD, Mesquite, TX

Melody Rogers, Educational Intervener Award for 2021.
Melody Rogers, Educational Intervener Award recipient for 2021.

(From Shenale Standish-Mother) “Melody Rogers has been my son’s intervener for 5 years. She has gone above and beyond for my son, not only in the educational setting, but in life situations (orientation and mobility and eating). She has given him the confidence that he needed to be as independent as possible. I feel like she has been instrumental in his success thus far! We look forward to having her a few more years.”

Melody has worked for the Mesquite ISD Regional Day School Program for the Deaf for 42 years. During that time she has held positions as Level 1 interpreter, paraprofessional and intervener. She has spent the last six years working as an intervener with a student who is deafblind. She describes the opportunity to watch her student grow and be successful in his learning environment as “the most rewarding role I have held thus far.”

Community Intervener Award

Given to an intervener who has demonstrated excellence in their role of support to a child or adult with deafblindness and whose efforts have contributed to the success of the intervener model in the community setting in Texas.

Luis Miranda, Community Intervener, Houston, TX

Luis Maranda, Community Intervener Award recipient for 2021.
Luis Maranda, Community Intervener Award recipient for 2021.

(From Amy Faught-Intervener) “Luis Miranda attended the Intervener program at Utah State University several years ago. He has proven his abilities with many students with deafblindness. He has so much knowledge and insight related to all things deafblind. I have personally witnessed his commitment and amazing relationship that he has formed with an 11 year old deafblind boy. He has worked with this boy in a home setting for several years. I am also an intervener, but in the public school setting. He has been somewhat of a mentor for me; always answering my questions, providing support, and collaborating ideas. I believe Luis deserves this award, because when I think of the difference he has made in the lives of people with deafblindness it motivates me to do more!”

Luis has worked as an intervener for a little over 10 years. He completed the Intervener course online at Utah State University and participated in the development of the Open Hands Open Access (OHOA) online learning modules. Luis worked for almost 4 years in the classroom setting, where he and his team received the Marty Murrell Excellence in Education Award. For the past 7 years, he has been in a private home setting where he has not only been able to work with a Deafblind student, but has also had the opportunity to serve as a mentor to his student’s educational intervener. He hopes to share his experiences to make it easier on those who are new to the intervener field so that more students who are Deafblind students can benefit from his experience and the tactics, and materials he and his colleague, Amy, have created. Luis loves all of the challenges that come with working the field of Deafblindness. He looks forward to gaining more opportunities to share what he has learned with others, and plans to continue working in the field of Deafblindness and supporting opportunities for Deafblind individuals everywhere to reach their best quality of life.

Ann Silverrain Award

Given to an individual who has made an extraordinary commitment to improving the lives of individuals who are Deafblind in Texas.

Elaine Robertson, Instructional Officer for Deaf Education and Vision Services, Katy ISD, Katy TX

Elaine Robertson, Anne Silverrain Award recipient for 2021.
Elaine Robertson, Ann Silverrain Award recipient for 2021.

(From the Deafblind team in Katy ISD) “Mrs. Robertson has contributed toward bringing joy, purpose, and meaningfulness in the lives of individuals with deafblindness throughout her educational career as a teacher and administrator. She shares her passion for the students and their families by networking, educating, and leading. Mrs. Robertson’s journey into deafblindness began with her sister who became deafblind during the Rubella epidemic. Deafblindness became part of who her sister was as a person. Elaine and her sister shared a special, unique bond that lasted a lifetime of unconditional love. As teachers who work with Elaine Robertson, we are honored to nominate her for the Ann Silverrain Award. With her 30 years of dedication to the students with deafblindness, the Ann Silverrain Award would be a special honor to recognize her lifetime commitment to the individuals with deafblindness and her love for her sister.”

Elaine. Robertson has worked in the field of deaf education for thirty years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Communication Disorders and her Master’s Degree from Gallaudet University. She has served in several positions over the years, including Deaf Education Elementary Teacher, Parent-Infant Advisor, and currently Instructional Officer of Deaf Education, Vision, and Assistive Technology. In 2009, Mrs. Robertson served as the Director of Education at the Center for Hearing and Speech before returning to Katy. Elaine serves on the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired School Board. Additionally, she is a board member for the National Visiting Committee for DeafTec. Elaine grew up with a profoundly deaf sister who inspires her to this day.

Marty Murrell Excellence in Education Award

Given to a professional in education who has made a long-term commitment to excellence in education for Texas students who are Deafblind.

Susie Tiggs, Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Lead for the Texas Sensory Support Network, Region 11 ESC, Ft. Worth, TX

Susie Tiggs, Marty Murrell Award recipient for 2021.
Susie Tiggs, Marty Murrell Award recipient for 2021.

(From Hillary Keys-Texas Sensory Support Network) “Most know Susie Tiggs as the Texas Sensory Support Network State Lead for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services. She is also a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, and she has a great breadth and depth of knowledge about meeting the needs of children who are deafblind. She has been quietly involved in many important projects in collaboration with the Texas Deafblind Project, has created online instructional courses around instructing students who are deafblind, provided untold hours of technical assistance around deafblindness, and presents locally and nationally on deafblind related topics. Susie personifies the professional who has made a long-term commitment to excellence in education for Texas students who are deafblind.”

Susie Tiggs is the Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Lead for the Texas Sensory Support Network. She has worked in the fields of Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing, Visual Impairment, Deafblind, and Assistive Technology for over 30 years.  After graduating from Texas Tech University with a degree in Deaf Education, Susie worked as a teacher of students who are deaf or hard of hearing in a self-contained classroom. Her first year in the classroom she was blessed with two students who were deafblind, both of whom were proficient communicators and learning braille. She was fascinated, the TVI was patient and tolerant and taught her along with the students, and that year Texas Tech University announced the addition of the Deafblind Master’s Program. Susie jumped at the opportunity to learn all she could and graduated with her master’s degree in Deafblind Education in 1992. (She is very excited to know that after waiting patiently for 29 years, she may officially become a certified TDB, if her internship hours from 1991 will be accepted!).  Susie also had the privilege to work as a Support Service Provider when not in the classroom and continued to learn with every student and client she interacted with. She is currently a doctoral candidate, and her research focuses on personalized professional development and digital badges.