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Special education department announces 2018 Whelan Leadership for Learning Awards

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

LAWRENCE — The Department of Special Education and the Center for Research on Learning at the University of Kansas have announced the 2018 Whelan Leadership for Learning Award recipients: Chris Cooper, assistant superintendent for Abilene Public Schools in Abilene; and Annette McDonald, math teacher and swimming coach at Free State High School in Lawrence.

The two recipients were selected for their extraordinary leadership and continued dedication to making sustainable changes focused on improving the lives of students with disabilities.

The awards will be presented to Cooper and McDonald at 8 a.m. Tuesday, July 17, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Lawrence. The ceremony will include brief remarks from the awardees as well as representatives of the sponsoring organizations at KU.

The ceremony will also serve as a kickoff event for the 2018 Learning Conference, What Research and Practice say about Leading, Learning and Teaching, hosted by the Center for Research on Learning. More information about the conference can be found here.

“We are pleased to recognize the significant contribution Chris Cooper and Annette McDonald have made to the education of all students,” said Michael Hock, director of the Center for Research on Learning. “They represent the ideals expressed and practiced by Dr. Richard Whelan over the course of his long and productive career. Chris and Annette share his dedication and commitment to improving life opportunities for all children.”

The Whelan Leadership on Learning Award honors Richard Whelan, a former dean for the KU School of Education who held many other leadership positions. In retirement, Whelan worked tirelessly as a mediator for local school districts and families of children with disabilities.

The top-ranked Department of Special Education is housed in the KU School of Education. The School of Education is located in Lawrence is also a nationally ranked school, preparing educators as leaders.    

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