MO-CASE honors the fantastic accomplishments of Missouri professionals who work tirelessly to enhance the profession of special education leadership.
Distinguished Service Award: The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor awarded by MO-CASE. It is presented only to those individuals whose contributions to the field of special education are truly both outstanding and longstanding. To be eligible, candidates must have at least 20 years of service in the field of special education and must have provided outstanding contributions to the profession, often in more than one area (teaching, administration, research, publishing, community service, etc.). It is expected that the recipient of this award will be a member of CEC, CASE and MO-CASE and be active on the national level. Because this criterion is so high, it is not expected that this award be given annually.
Recognition Award: The MO-CASE Recognition Award is designed to recognize and honor significant individual contributions to the field of special education administration. Recipients must have had at least 10 years of service and have made significant contributions to the profession. It is expected that the recipient of this award will be a member of CEC, CASE and MO-CASE and be active on the state level and within MO-CASE. This award is designed to be presented annually.
Friend of MO-CASE Award: The Friend of MO-CASE award is established to recognize the work of an individual who, while not a special educator, has supported the mission, vision, and advancement of MO-CASE through his/her work and support of our organization. This award is designed to be presented annually.
Outstanding New Special Education Administrator Award: The Outstanding New Special Education Administrator Award is designed to recognize outstanding directors who have been practicing in the field of special education administration for five years or less. It is expected that the recipient of this award will be a member of CEC, CASE, and MO-CASE.
Outstanding LASE Award: This award is presented in recognition of a Local Administrators of Special Education (LASE) group that provides outstanding service to its members, and support for MO-CASE and CASE initiatives on behalf of students with disabilities. Consideration for this award is based on the rubric for High Performing LASE Groups.
Charles W. Cummings Scholarship: The Charles W. Cummings Scholarship was established as a memorial to honor Mr. Cummings' outstanding service as a special education administrator. The scholarship supports graduate-level training in special education administration and will be awarded to an individual who is employed or aspires to be employed as a special education administrator. The scholarship amount of $1,000 may be awarded to more than one applicant annually. Candidates must demonstrate outstanding promise and a desire to further their careers in the field of special education administration.
2023 Award Winners
Recognition Award: Dr. Reesha Adamson
Dr. Reesha Adamson is an Associate Dean and Professor at Missouri State University for the College of Education and School of Special Education, Leadership, and Professional Studies. Dr. Adamson has numerous publications in peer-reviewed outlets on the topics of classroom management, evidence-based practices, and teacher apprenticeships. She has presented over 150 national/international and state presentations on these topics. Her research interests include designing and implementing a continuum of supports for academic and behavioral improvement and increasing the usability of evidence-based classroom management strategies in applied settings.
As described above, Dr. Adamson has dedicated her career through direct and in-direct service to children and youth with disabilities. Her publications are accessible and primarily aimed at practitioners through translation of current evidence-based practices as well as her own applied research. Most recently, Dr. Adamson has created an innovative program to address the critical special education teacher shortage that is gaining national attention. Her “pathways for paras'' program, funded through the Missouri Department of Labor, will add dozens of fully certified special educators to the profession in urban, suburban, and rural districts across the state.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Office of Special Education has also engaged Dr. Adamson to advise them on supporting replications of the program state-wide as well as other recommendations related to special education teacher preparation. Her applied focus in her research and service, coupled with her innovative “pathways” program is clearly in line with MO-CASE’s mission to support special education leaders in the state of Missouri.
Prior to her graduate work, including receiving her PhD from the University of Missouri, Reesha was an elementary district-wide special education teacher, district-wide behavior specialist, consultant and as the principle teacher at Boone County Juvenile Justice Center.
Outside of her career her pride and joy is her 7 year old daughter, Brynlee. They can be found on weekends and evenings having adventures all over the world.
Friend of MO-CASE: Mark Penny
Dr. Mark Penny is a passionate, energetic, and relational educator dedicated to making a difference in the lives of his students. He believes every child deserves a world class education, regardless of ability, personal circumstances, or zip code. Joining the Lincoln County R-III School District in July 2011 as the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Penny envisioned the District as a “Premier District” in the state of Missouri. One of his first accomplishments was to establish the Lincoln County R-III Education Foundation, Buddy Bags (a weekend program that provides meals to students experiencing food scarcity), and Bright Futures Lincoln County ( a program that works to fulfill the basic needs of students so they can focus on learning). Academically, he worked to advance students' learning by implementing a 1-to-1 iPad-to-student ratio and creating a Director of Teaching and Learning Supports to address social-emotional needs in our school communities.
Dr. Penny is a member of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), Past President of the Missouri School Administrators Association (MASA 2019-2020), current Chair of the Governing Board for the University of Missouri Partnership for Education Renewal (MPER), current Chair of the Mercy Lincoln Hospital Board of Directors, and Lincoln County Community Opportunities Board of Directors member.
In 2017, Dr. Penny represented the northeast district as a MASA Pearce Award Nominee. Most recently, Dr. Penny was named the 2022 Man of the Year by the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Penny believes in community partnerships and worked with Lincoln County Economic Development and Boonslick Regional Planning Commission to secure a $5.1 million Economic Development Administration grant to fund a Workforce Development Center in 2020. With the assistance of Representative Randy Pietzman and Senator Jeannie Riddle, Dr. Penny was able to utilize a $1 million allocation to assist in this effort.
He and his wife, Cassandra, are proud to have two, soon to be three, Lincoln County R-III School District graduates. Although Dr. Penny has announced his retirement at the end of the 2023-2024 school year, he looks forward to continuing to be an involved community member and supporter of public education.
Outstanding New Special Educator: Elizabeth Fagre
Married to her high school sweetheart, Elizabeth and her husband are raising three children who are as spunky and excited about life as she is every day. They believe that singing, dancing, and laughter can fix anything.
Inspired by Brene Brown and Rita Pierson, her path of personal growth and leadership the last several years has driven her to let go of the past and inspire others to “Be a Champion” for all those around her. Everyone deserves a champion who empowers them to become the best they can possibly be.
Her love for her staff and students has created a passion for student growth and staff retention that drives everything she does. Creating opportunities for students and building staff support has been her game plan since she joined the Odessa R-VII School District in August of 2022.
She has helped begin a New to Odessa Teacher support group, a New SpEd Teacher cohort, an in-district para conference, a para to teacher program collaboration, and increased Behavioral Intervention support within the district to include a path to Registered Behavior Tech certification for interested staff.
She has led Odessa Special Olympics with the expansion of Unified basketball and eSports programs while continuing to grow the Unified Track program. Odessa was able to host what is thought to be the first Unified eSports in person match in the nation in April 2023. Odessa High
School has been recognized as a Unified Champion School with Special Olympics Missouri. Through her leadership, Odessa opened an Early Childhood Development Center in August of this year, started Central Missouri Job Olympics for Lafayette & Johnson County School Districts in April 2023, and is looking forward to hosting their first Unified Prom in December of 2023.
Elizabeth has always aspired to change the world. She completed her Ed Specialist in Executive Leadership for Superintendency this summer through Mizzou. Her goal this year is to step into her superpower and bring along anyone she can in that process.
Charles Cummings Scholarship Winners: Kendra Burke, Casey Winckler, Emily Holman, Lillian Muller
Kendra Burke has been in the field of special education for a total of 12 years. She spent the first 5 years as a teacher at Lee's Summit West High School supporting the students in the social, emotional, behavioral program. She has been serving as a district special education program coordinator for the past 7 years. Additionally, she is currently in the process of completing her doctorate degree from Saint Louis University.
Casey Winckler is in her second year as the Director of Special Services in the Dallas County R-I School District. She is currently pursuing her specialist through Northwest Missouri State University in Educational Leadership. Prior to serving Dallas County, she was a special education teacher, then coordinator for the Grain Valley School District. She made the move the summer of 2022, to the Dallas County area and is so grateful for the small community and impact that can be made. Last year, Dallas County was named as having the second highest poverty rate in the state and the work is challenging yet rewarding. Casey loves being a part of meeting the needs of the district, as well as the community, as she assists in combating the cycle of generational poverty.
Lillian Muller is proud to say she was born and raised in the Kansas City area. Lillian graduated from Missouri Western State University with her Bachelors of Science in Special Education. After student teaching and working in the East Buchanan School District, she decided to go back to school for her masters degree. She is currently studying administration at Missouri Southern State University. Her career goal is to work in special education administration in some capacity!
Emily Holman has worked in public education for the past 12 years. She has worked as a para-educator, special education teacher, school psych, and process coordinator. She loves working with individuals with special needs; and is an advocate for all. This year, she is working in Springfield Public Schools; is learning much and loving the opportunity! Emily obtained her master's degree in special education, specialist degree in counseling and assessment with a school psych examiner certification from MSU. Currently, she is attending MSU and working on her administration certificate.