Former Washington-Nile Local School District special education director Wilma Erwin has been nominated for the 2016-17 national LifeChanger of the Year Award.
According to the National Life Group Foundation, the national LifeChanger of the Year program recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 public and private school educators and employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.
Erwin, whose career in education spans over 40 years, was nominated by her superintendent, Jeff Stricklett. She was praised for going above and beyond to meet the needs of the district’s students.
“Our district is going through an exciting time thanks to Ms. Erwin’s hard work and determination,” Stricklett said. “She is a leader who is trying to bring a positive change regarding instructional culture. She has worked many hours away from school to help our district reach its goals and expectations.”
Erwin said she is humbled and “dumbfounded” by being nominated.
Erwin has served as the special education director in Washington-Nile Local School District for 10 years.
“In the 40 years of education, I have worked at almost every job. I’ve been a counselor. I’ve been a principal. I’ve been a teacher. I’ve been in a lot of different roles,” Erwin said. “But special ed – I believe if you can get the system to work for special ed, the student with the disability, that the system will work for everybody. If you can get education accessible to the student with disabilities then you have an accessible system that will allow all students.”
Erwin said she has always been interested in seeing that all people have a chance and she has always been interested in helping design a good day for a student who has trouble accessing their day.
“That’s just kind of who I am,” Erwin said.
Each school year, the LifeChanger of the Year program receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For 2016-2017, there will be a total of 15 individual LifeChanger of the Year awards. In addition, a 16th prize, the “National Spirit Award,” is given to the school and nominee whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination. Each winner will receive a cash award that is split between the individual winner and their school. The national Grand Prize award is $10,000. Winners are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The Top 5 winners will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in Naples, Florida. Winners will be announced in Spring 2017.
The winners will be chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals.
Erwin recently left her job at Portsmouth West to take a similar job with a state support team.
“The people at West were so good to me,” Erwin said. “Mr. Stricklett and all the people there are just awesome. It is a great place to work.”
The National Life Group Foundation has a website – http://lifechangeroftheyearnominees.com/showspirit/.
“People can go to that site and add comments and then after a period of time they actually give awards and they may even give awards,” Erwin said. “They could give like $2,500 to me and $2,500 to the district.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.