Irondequoit resident Kathy Lee was awarded the Inclusion Award as part of Starbridge’s 2018 Among the Stars Community Award Celebration held May 5 at Locust Hill Country Club.
The Inclusion Award is given in recognition of a person’s efforts in creating inclusive opportunities for people who have disabilities.
Lee has worked as a special education teacher at Mary Cariola Children’s Center for 32 years. Students who attend Mary Cariola have multiple disabilities and complex medical needs. Lee has coordinated hundreds of field trips over the years — swimming at the Jewish Community Center, college visits to Roberts Wesleyan College, summer trips to Ontario Beach Park and concerts at the Lilac Festival.
If funding, transportation or other challenges prevent a field trip, Lee has been creative and ingenious to bring community experiences into her classroom. The Seneca Park ZooMobile and Monroe County 4-H Clubs have visited and brought animals ranging from puppies to ponies. Local musicians Jim Lane, Johnny Bauer, Rochester City School District School of the Arts and others, have traveled to the Cariola campus and performed for Lee’s students. If the topic is weather, Lee has welcomed local meteorologists Scott Hetsko and Stacey Pensgen to educate her students. To further her inclusion efforts, Lee invites other classrooms to participate and enjoy these community in the classroom activities.
“I’ve been taught to embrace every day and care for others,” said Lee. “Day after day I’m amazed by my students because they try so hard...their lives are challenging. I’m not promised tomorrow with any these kids...so each day better be a good day.”
The Starbridge Community Awards are an annual event sponsored by Starbridge, a local organization that partners with people who have disabilities, their families and others who support them, to realize fulfilling possibilities in education, employment, health and community living; and to transform communities to include everyone.