Sooner Chapter, Norman Ok.
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Club News
2011 Special Education Teacher of the Year 
Norman Public Schools
 Norman, Ok 

Yolly Beckenhauer (Center)

(Also pictured:  Adri-Anne Trammell & Justin Milner)

This is the 6th year that, along with the Norman Public Schools (NPS), the Sooner AMBUCS organization has recognized an outstanding special education teacher. Justin Milner, Director of Special Services, NPS, says:  “The purpose of special education is to minimize the impact of the disability and maximize the opportunity for the student to participate in school.” Milner and representatives from the NPS staff, plus Mary Lynne Simer and Bill Terry from AMBUCS, have been evaluating nominations from school principals each year.  Without fail, in any given year, there is someone who just stands out from all the others. This year it is Yolanda – otherwise known as Yolly – Beckenhauer from Monroe Elementary School.  

Yolly is responsible for the 4th and 5th grade resource room.  She has 32 years of teaching experience in special education and uses the knowledge she gained as a resource for reaching many different children. She possesses a rich repertoire of skills for reaching students with a broad range of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical capacities.  Her principal at Monroe, Gracie Branch, says that Yolly epitomizes the quote “when the student does not learn the way the teacher teaches, then the good teacher teaches the way the student learns.”  Yolly assists other teachers in the building to teach in a way that allows students to learn in a manner that may be different from how the teachers learn themselves.  She also serves as an instructor for the district’s new teacher academy and a resource for other special education teachers to observe in her classroom. In addition to providing a positive classroom environment which serves as a vital hub of network providers, services, and resources to support her students, she also plays a crucial collaborative role with the student’s family.  

Building on the family’s insights, she supports families in promoting their children’s development and includes them in decisions affecting their children’s education.  Yolly also supports families in monitoring their children’s progress at home, at school, and in the community, and she often puts them in touch with people and agencies that can provide additional assistance when needed. Principal Branch continues, “I know that Yolly Beckenhauer makes a tremendous difference for students and teachers in our building every day.  As a faculty member and artist, she chairs our school-wide Arts Festival, and includes art instruction in her classroom.”  She goes on, “Yolly serves on the Monroe school-wide intervention team which meets weekly and, in addition, serves as the case manager for fifth grade.  She is bilingual in Spanish and constantly assists us in communicating with our Hispanic students. She also tutors students with disabilities after school in reading and math.” 

The AMBUCS organization’s mission is to help individuals with disabilities achieve mobility and independence.  The Sooner AMBUCS chapter was established in 1990. Adri-Anne Trammell, Sooner President, says “We have always worked closely with individuals in the various therapy fields and have come to appreciate Special Education teachers for their work as strong advocates for their students with exceptional needs.” Trammell continues, “For 12 years we worked with school systems and teachers throughout Oklahoma providing refurbished computers for their students with disabilities.  This experience provided us with opportunities to get to know many wonderful teachers who often go that extra mile to help their children.  This program of recognizing Special Education teachers is a natural progression in our mission and we love getting to know the teachers each year.  Each one is as special as each child.” 

Yolly Beckenhauer, when asked about her work, says, “After 32 years, teaching special education is still exciting and rewarding to me. I enjoy it now as much, if not more, than I did when I started teaching.   One of my favorite compliments I get from students walking down the hall is ‘How do I get to go to your class?’  I love the relationships I make with students as well as their parents.  I can't imagine doing anything else." 

Sooner Ambucs Contributes to the J.D. McCarty Center 

Dustin Hadlock and Darrell Green, Recreational Activities Specialists at the JD McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities, pose in front of musical and other toys donated by the Sooner AMBUCS chapter.  The photo taken at Copelin's Office Supply in Norman, Ok shows rhythm sticks, beginner band sets, band in a box sets, tambourines, jazzy jingles, bell clips, adjustable bendy bells, train whistles, eggs cha cha, textured blocks, stacking activity cubes, Tangles, wooden name it, we got it.  We had fun picking all this stuff out -- a good excuse for playing with toys in public without looking totally foolish.  The Sooner Chapter of Ambucs thanks Copelin's for giving us a generous discount and helping us locate all sorts of great toys with emphasis on those proven useful for children with disabilities.   

Sooner Chapter Plans Expansion

We are planning to increase the numbers of members in our local chapter.  We just celebrated 22 years serving the people of Norman and the State of Oklahoma and while our current members are wonderful, we want some new ideas to help us go forward. 

We are especially interested in reaching out to people whose work or family life will not allow them to attend weekly breakfast meetings.  We are going to change our chapter from an all-breakfast chapter to one that also meets one night each month.  We are looking for the right location – probably a place where food is available to those who want it AND it must be accessible to all.  We are anxious to add therapists to our group and also special education teachers.  Both of these groups have schedules that make morning meetings impossible. Anyone whose heart speaks to them about what we do is welcome! 

If you are interested in this idea, please email us on the “contact us” form or give Adri-Anne Trammell a call at 405-204-6871 (cell) anytime.

Sooner Ambucs AmTryke Giveaway

Pictured below are recipients of AmTrykes from our last "AmTryke Giveaway".  An AmTryke is a special tricycle built for children and adults with therapeutic disabilities.  

A unique feature of some of the AmTrykes is that it can be "pedalled" with the feet or hands.  Two AmTrkyes were given away at this event. These pictures are some we took of the recipients.  Are they happy or what!!

If you know of a child that might benefit from using an AmTryke, please contact us.  Our national office maintains a "National Wishlist" of children waiting for an AmTryke.

Ambucs Scholar

This year's "Ambucs Scholar", sponsored by the Sooner Ambucs, is Kallie Pennel.  

She was awarded $750 to help with tuition towards her Masters in Occupational Therapy at OU.  This is the second year in a row she has received an award of $750.  She has worked at the JD McCarty Center and promises to keep in touch and visit at our club meetings when she can.
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