2019 Lara Jane Parker
AwardS for Excellence
Rena Dadolf is a Speech Language Pathologist at Northside Elementary in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Rena received her Masters of Science in Speech Language Pathology from East Carolina University. She exemplifies her school’s motto, “lift every voice” by teaching students to initiate communication beyond their basic needs thereby increasing their independence. Rena often intervenes on her student’s behalf either in the hallway or classroom by saying, “It sounds like you have something to say,” and then modeling and leading the student through a successful communication exchange. She constantly collaborates with classroom teachers to problem-solve best practice communication strategies and provide any training required on various communication devices and systems used by students. Rena was nominated by past LJP winner, Amy Brande, with a supporting letter from her colleague, Molly Raymond.
Lucas Harris is an Exceptional Children Teacher at Lowe’s Grove Middle School in the Durham Public Schools. Lucas has a degree in Sociology from NC State University and a Graduate Certificate in Middle Grades Education from UNC Charlotte. After beginning his career as a general education teacher, he chose to alter his career path to teach children with disabilities. He has successfully implemented various communication systems in his classroom for multiple handicapped students. His compassion, innovation and enthusiasm for meeting the communication needs of his students has resulted in noticeable improvements to what was once deemed a “difficult” and “profoundly disabled” classroom. Lucas has built a classroom full of communication options that allow his students to “sing” along to music, discuss occurrences, share observations, offer choices, elicit answers, express emotions, and make requests. He continues to pursue training both for himself and others working with his students. Lucas was nominated by this year's recipient of the Award for Advocacy, Tonja Recktenwald, with a supporting letter from his colleague, Dr. Teri Travisano.
Jennifer Lawson is a Speech Language Pathologist at Rolesville Middle and High Schools and Heritage Middle and High Schools in the Wake County Public School System. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders from East Carolina University. She taught for seven years in a special education classroom before becoming an SLP, which gives her a unique perspective on the needs of her students. Jennifer has the passion and knowledge to ensure that all of her students can communicate with others and participate more fully in both their school and community. Her evaluations of students are spot-on and she relentlessly pursues the “thing” a student needs to succeed. She leads her Professional Learning Team and is known for her excellence as a teammate among related service personnel and special educators across the county. Jennifer was nominated by AT Specialist Santina Brown and Principal Dhedra Lassiter.
Lara Jane Parker/
Talbot L. Black Award for advocacy
Tonja Recktenwald is the Assistive Technology Lead for Durham Public Schools. Tonja has a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology from UNC-Greensboro and a Masters in Communication Disorders from NC Central. She is a “Jack of all Trades”—technology specialist, a speech language pathologist, designer and developer of individualized communication systems, counselor, advocate, educator, and administrator. She brings people together, both inside and outside the school system, to provide the best communication solution for students and their families in all environments: school, home, work, and community. She inspires others to share her vision that all students have the ability to communicate and interact with others. Her enthusiasm, energy, and resourcefulness has a profound impact on students, teachers, therapists and families in Durham County. Tonja was nominated by a past LJP recipient, Luanne Holland, with a supporting letter from another past LJP recipient, JoAnna Clark.