State Support Team Region 9 Serving Schools in Holmes, Stark, and Wayne Counties

Stark State Advanced Technology Center ~ 6057 Strip Ave. N.W., North Canton, OH 44720  
Telephone: 330-492-8136  ~  Toll Free: 1-800-733-7732

Horn/Walter Awards for Outstanding
Achievement in Special Education

R. A. Horn Award Description


Franklin B. Walter Award Description



2017 Award Winners

Salvator Rinaldi

2017 R. A. Horn Award Winner
Salvatore Rinaldi

Salvatore is a senior at Perry High School, preparing for graduation in May.  He has worked hard to develop self-advocacy skills to solve problems and gain skills that will help him with success as an adult.  An example of this occurred when he independently advocated for a schedule change to be in classes that support his postsecondary goals.  Sal wrote a letter  offering evidence of why the change was beneficial and possible solutions to the problem.  His schedule was changed due to his self-awareness and self-determination.  He wants to ensure he is prepared for his plan to work part-time while attending a local 2 year college.

Sal is very active at school.  He has participated in Choir, Drama, Broadcasting and Sports Journalism, served as announcer for the Stark Strikers Bowling League and was elected as a Junior Homecoming Attendant.  Sal has also interviewed teachers for the Perry HS News.

Sal is committed to his family and friends. He supports his twin sister in her activities and enjoys special moments with his grandma.  His friend invited him to be part of the photo op when he signed his “intent to play college football” letter.  You can always find him at Perry sporting events cheering on his classmates.  His teacher, Mrs. Merritt shared that “Sal is the most positive, kind-hearted student she has ever worked with. If you interact with him even once during the day, you WILL have a good day”.      

When Sal entered school, his parents were told he would never be able to read.  His story shows that grit, dedication and determination can overcome challenges that may seem impossible.  SST9 is privileged to have Salvatore Rinaldi as the Regional Finalist for the R. A. Horn Outstanding Achievement Award.  Congratulations Sal.


Joni Hiller

2017 Franklin B. Walter Award Winner
Joni Hiller

Joni Hiller, Intervention Specialist at Edgewood Middle School in Wooster City Schools is the SST9 regional Franklin B. Walter finalist and will represent Region 9 at the Awards Banquet in Columbus in June.  Collaboration, communication, high expectations and positive attitude are characteristics that exemplify Joni’s approach to education.   Joni shares her expertise with colleagues with emphasis on an integrated comprehensive service model accompanied with universally designed instructional strategies.  Currently, she serves her district in a full inclusion model providing both reading and math instruction.  

Jennifer Crum, Director of Student Services, shares “Passion is a trait in education that drives individuals to achieve at high levels, and thus impact students at high levels.”  Joni embodies this statement through her strong knowledge base regarding her students’ personalities, strengths and needs.  She is able to meet the needs of all of her students while keeping them challenged and motivated utilizing superior creativity, planning and instructional techniques.

Dean Frank, Edgewood principal, shares, “Mrs. Hiller’s students, even with their variety of disabilities are absolutely successful.  She achieves this through her strong partnership with families, outstanding instruction in the classroom and love for children.”

Joni’s expertise expands beyond her building and district.  She has worked closely with the Wooster business community providing rich experiences for her students.  Her reputation in the Wooster community is well known as being an outstanding advocate for children.  In addition, she has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Wooster to provide additional support for students before school, after school and during the summer.

In summation, Ms. Crum shares, “Commitment and desire exemplify Ms. Hiller as an outstanding educator for her peers and as an advocate for her students.”  

We congratulate Joni Hiller as the 2017 SST9 Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator.