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

2019 Horn Walter Awards for Outstanding
Achievement in Special Education

R. A. Horn Award Description

2019 R. A. Horn Regional Recipient
Isaiah Zinn 

Isaiah Zinn is the State Support Team Region 9 Regional Recipient of the R. A. Horn Outstanding
Achievement Award for a Student. Isaiah is a senior at Massillon Washington High School in the Massillon
City School District. Isaiah is an individual with a visual impairment. In spite of his challenges Isaiah
currently has a cumulative GPA of 3.8 and is ranked 46th in his class. Leslie Ullum-Shaheen, Teacher of the
Visually Impaired, shares the following regarding Isaiah, “His demeanor is kind, patient, yet strong. He is
special in the fact that he faces his challenges head-on: without excuse, without fear. Discussing solutions
rather than obstacles, he is set apart as a great leader within his class.” Isaiah is described as an individual
with a positive attitude sharing his kindness with both staff and students.

At school, Isaiah is a member of the National Honor Society. He is in his final year of the Construction
Trades Career and Technical Program at Washington High School and has earned his OSHA certification.
He will complete the program with a variety of carpentry skills. Additionally, he is the manager of the
Massillon Tiger Football Team.

Outside of school, Isaiah is volunteer at his church and in the community. Isaiah is employed part time at
Arby’s after school and on the weekends. He is an entrepreneur, managing his own lawn company. Still
looking for more challenges, Isaiah invests his earnings into securing broken equipment. He evaluates the
equipment, diagnoses the problem, makes the repair and subsequently sells the items for a profit.
After High School, Isaiah plans to attend college and is currently investigating his options. He may study
law in order to advocate for individuals with disabilities.

Allison Barnhart, Student Services Specialist-Massillon City Schools, shares, “Isaiah’s personality is truly
genuine. His academic achievement is due to his persistence of excellence in the classroom. Anytime
anyone needs anything done Isaiah is always willing to lend a helping hand without question.”
We are certain Isaiah has a bright future ahead of him. We congratulate Isaiah Zinn as State Support Team
Region 9’s 2019 Regional Recipient of the R. A. Horn Outstanding Achievement Award for a Student.


2019 R. A. Horn Wayne County Winner
William Via 

2019 R. A. Horn Wayne County Recipient
William Via 

William Via is the State Support Team 9 Wayne County recipient of the R. A. Horn Outstanding
Achievement Award for a Student. William is a fourth grade student at Parkview Elementary School in
Wooster City Schools. William has grown significantly regarding his academic and social/emotional skills.
When in kindergarten, William demonstrated difficulty successfully making it through his school day. He
often exhibited behavioral challenges; sometimes requiring naps, frequent breaks, showing little interest
in academics subsequently not being able to participate in a full school day. Currently, William
participates in his school program 100% of the time. He is described as a conscientious student who
always tries to give 100% to his learning. As a matter of fact, it was shared that William doesn’t even take
breaks now because he is too busy learning.

William enjoys being a student leader in his classroom. He has grown as a reader. In kindergarten
William’s only interest in books were those related dinosaurs. In fourth grade, William is responsible for
providing book talks to his class. William presents new books to his classmates providing presentations
that spark his classmates’ interest in these books. He has also taken on the responsibilities of “Quote
Board Leader”, where he designs and writes the inspirational quote of the day for his class.

William’s love of books and reading is also evident through his duties as a library assistant. He helps where
he is needed in the library. He stores the technology equipment and assures that the I-Pads are charged
and ready for use by students. Delores Lorentz, Parkview Librarian, describes William as follows; “He has
polite manners, a fun sense of humor and has become a friend to many. William has developed into a
dependable assistant in the library. ”

William has shown tremendous growth both academically and socially. It is with great pleasure and pride
that we congratulate, William Via as SST9’s 2019 Wayne County Recipient of the R. A. Horn Outstanding
Achievement Award for a Student.

Honorable Mention
2019 R.A. Horn Outstanding
Achievement Award for a Student

 Megan Ayers-Haut Canton South High School Canton Local Schools
 Savannah Baker Perry High School Perry Local Schools
 Amari Beasley T.C. Knapp Elementary School Perry Local Schools
 Tristan Broom Glen Oak High School Plain Local Schools
 Cheyanne Chupp John R. Lea Middle School Southeast Local Schools
 Cayden Daniel Success Academy Alliance City Schools
 Jared Frank North Canton Middle School North Canton City Schools
 Adam Heckman Glen Oak High School Plain Local Schools
 Rilee Henry Holmesville Elementary School Southeast Local Schools
 Landen Hershberger Mt. Eaton Elementary School Southeast Local Schools
 Dustin Hintz Tuslaw Middle School Tuslaw Local Schools
 Michael Holub Alliance High School Alliance City Schools
 Jordan Hunter Schreiber Reading and Math School Canton City Schools
 Ashley Johnson Rittman High School Rittman Exempted Village Schools
 Geno Kelley Hartford Middle School @ STEAMM Canton City Schools
 Paul Lambo Jackson High School Jackson Local Schools
 Kayden Mahaffey Fairless Elementary School Fairless Local Schools
 Kamden Margo Hartford Middle School @ STEAMM Canton City Schools
 Cristian McElroy Orchard Hill Intermediate School North Canton City Schools
 Shawn McElroy Rebecca Stallman Southgate School Stark County Board of DD
 Cowen McKelvey Fredericksburg Elementary School Southeast Local Schools
 Madalyn Miller Apple Creek Elementary School Southeast Local Schools
 Michelle Mitchell Lake Middle/High School Lake Local Schools
 Aaron Price Sandy Valley High School Sandy Valley Local Schools
 Jovanni Rainieri Rockhill Elementary School Alliance City Schools
 Julius Smith Alliance Middle School Alliance City Schools
 Abigail Thomas Jackson High School Jackson Local Schools
 Kobe Tidwell Hartford Middle School @ STEAMM Canton City Schools
 Elijah Underwood Jackson High School Jackson Local Schools
 Brandon Verdon Louisville High School Louisville Local Schools
 Kasey Yoder Waynedale High School Southeast Local Schools

You obviously have earned the respect of many people. Congratulations, again, for being nominated for this prestigious award.

2019 Franklin B. Walter Awards for Outstanding
Educator in Special Education

Franklin B. Walter Award Description

2018 Franklin B. Walter Regional Recipent
Erin Neff

Erin Neff, Integrated Preschool Teacher at North Nimishillen Elementary School in Louisville City Schools,
is the State Support Team Region 9 regional Franklin B. Walter finalist. Justin Haren, Director of Special
Programs for Louisville Schools states the following regarding Mrs. Neff, “she has been the driving force
in the revamping of the Louisville preschool program and has done so with such grace that she was
welcomed with open arms by the veterans of the program”.

Mrs. Neff strives to meet the academic and behavioral needs of all learners in her preschool classroom.
Her classroom utilizes whole class routines and individualized student plans using visual schedules, picture
prompts and songs for transitions. Instructional practices are built on students’ strengths, needs and
interests. Mrs. Neff is current and purposeful regarding instructional practices provided to her students.
She uses and shares with district colleagues researched based best practices including Fundations,
Growth Mindset, Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum, Big Ideas of Early Learning and many more.
Students are engaged and interested progressing academically, socially and emotionally.

Mrs. Neff facilitated the creation of Wednesday Team Collaboration Time for staff members of the
preschool program. Goals of the programs include opportunities for staff to reflect on current strategies,
discussion of the implementation of newly learned practices, problem solving student and program needs,
and determining future areas of focus.

Parents are an integral part of Mrs. Neff’s preschool classroom. Parents are informed and engaged
through a parent orientation program that includes an explanation of the curriculum, assessments and
instructional strategies that parents can also provide to their children at home. A monthly Stay N’ Play
activity or meeting opportunity for families is offered with an array of fun and interactive opportunities.
Open communication with families is accomplished through a family friendly newsletter, emails, phone
calls, use of the Remind App and a communication log completed by students that summarizes their
classroom activities and engagement in their school day.

Melanie Davis, principal North Nimishillen Elementary, shares “Erin is always on the cutting edge of best
practices for all learning styles, abilities and ages. She is a constant learner, always seeking additional
learning experiences. Her classroom has served as a model learning environment for many outside

We congratulate Erin Neff as the 2019 SST9 Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator.


2019 Co-Wayne County Recipients of the
Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator Award

Southeast Local Schools

The educational team of Rachel Speelman, Intervention Specialist, Anna Lay, Paraprofessional, Tiffany
Durstine, Paraprofessional, Angie Miller, Paraprofessional, and Molly Parrot, Paraprofessional are the
SST9 Co-Wayne County recipients of the Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator Award. All team
members provide instructional services in a classroom for students with autism at Holmesville Elementary
School in the Southeast Local School district. Shawn Snyder, Holmesville Elementary Principal, shares
“This team goes above and beyond every day to care for their students. They help them grow
academically, connect with parents, and bring awareness to the building, district and community.”

All members of this team are well versed regarding their students’ needs. They help facilitate successful
transitions into inclusion settings. Communication is vital to student success as all team members provide
important information to general educators, therapists, bus/van drivers and family members ensuring
consistency of educational programming. Effective communication ensures their students’ achievement.
The team has involved their students in many community opportunities. They have taken trips to local
businesses to practice academic and communication skills beyond their classroom walls. This past
December the team organized a Polar Express experience for their students. Students enjoyed a great
evening of excitement and fun while families received a much needed night of respite, the first that some
had ever had.

Additionally, this team educates others about autism. They regularly talk to others about the capabilities
of students with autism. Mrs. Speelman has presented information about autism at the both the building
and district level. She also ensures that staff is prepared and trained to provide instruction to her students
by sharing numerous strategies and resources.

Jamie Cicconetti, Director of Special Education, Southeast Local Schools states, “This team brings joy to all
they work with, most importantly to their students. Parents have referred to them as the “autism
whisperers” and express gratitude often for the way they support and love their children daily”.
We congratulate the team of Rachel Speelman, Anna Lay, Tiffany Durstine, Angie Miller and Molly Parrot
in being named the 2019 SST9 Co-Wayne County Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educators.


2019 Co-Wayne County Recipients of the
Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator Award

Wooster City Schools

The educational team of Peggy Retzler, Paraprofessional, Kathryn Hershberger, Paraprofessional, and
Heather Coppola, Paraprofessional are the SST9 Co-Wayne County recipients of the Franklin B. Walter
Outstanding Educator Award. This team works collaboratively at Melrose Elementary School in the
Wooster City School district supporting a classroom with students identified with emotional/behavioral
challenges. Tessa Hammond, Intervention Specialist shares, “These women are more than “specialized
paraprofessionals”. They are a unified, ardent team of love and support for the children in our district
who need it most. The depths of devotion and patience that these women carry into the classroom daily
is unprecedented.” This team of paraprofessionals is superior in their ability to build authentic
relationships with their students. Additionally, all of these paraprofessionals collaborate with the general
education teachers they work with ensuring student success in academic, social and emotional areas.

Their support does not end at the conclusion of the school day. They volunteer their time to attend staff
meetings in order to be informed for their students’ benefit. Mrs. Retzler and her husband built sets for
Melrose’s school wide puppet show. Mrs. Coppola and her daughter helped paint a mural in the school’s
hallway. Mrs. Hershberger is a lead in the school’s before and after school program, being a leader since
its inception.

It has been shared that this team’s professionalism, work ethic, compassion and patience is why their
students continue to thrive. They put their hearts into their role regarding the students they serve and
the school community they support.

Kaylee Harrell, Melrose Elementary Principal, states; “When I describe this team, I describe them as the
unsung heroes of our school. Their commitment to serve and support provides our teacher teams with
the ability to best meet the needs of our students. Their dedication and investment is the reason in which
our students are so successful.”

We congratulate the team of Peggy Retzler, Kathryn Hershberger, and Heather Coppola in being named
the 2019 SST9 Co-Wayne County Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educators.


Honorable Mention
2019 Franklin B. Walter Outstanding Educator Award

 Lindsay Adkins Intervention Specialist Rebecca Stallman Southgate School -
Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities
 Darla Ferguson 2nd Grade Teacher Middlebranch Elementary School
 Ashley Hamilton 2nd Grade Teacher Middlebranch Elementary School
 Jamie Lenardos, 2nd Grade Teacher Middlebranch Elementary School
 Lauren Powell, 2nd Grade Teacher Middlebranch Elementary School
 Julie Schorsten Intervention Specialist Middlebranch Elementary School
 Justin Wiley 2nd Grade Teacher Middlebranch Elementary School Plain Local Schools
 Laura Johnston Intervention Specialist Fairless Middle School Fairless Local Schools
 Breanna Martin Kindergarten Teacher Fairless Elementary School
 Maggie Rush Intervention Specialist Fairless Elementary School Fairless Local Schools
 Rachel Morgan Intervention Specialist Dalton Intermediate Dalton Local Schools
 Robin Porter Intervention Specialist Orchard Hill Intermediate North Canton City Schools
 Kaley Sloane Paraprofessional Parkway Elementary Alliance City Schools
 Molly Walker STEM Teachers East Canton High School
 Lisa Gothard Osnaburg Local Schools
 David Samblanet

Congratulations for being nominated. It has been said, “Far beyond classrooms and school yards, a teacher’s influence lives on in the hearts of students”.