Freida J. Riley Teacher Award 2001
$5,000 Freida J. Riley Teacher Award Columbus Scholar
Wendy R. Shugol
Wendy R. Shugol, a teacher at Falls Church High School, Falls Church, VA,
was presented the 2001 Freida J. Riley Teacher
Award. The award was presented in May as a part of the Opening Ceremony
for Space Day 2001 at the Smithsonian's
National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
Ms. Shugol was injured in an automobile accident soon after completing
college and before beginning her teaching career. The head injuries sustained
in the accident subsequently resulted in a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.
Despite her condition, Wendy went on to fulfill her dream of becoming a
special education teacher with an even deeper understanding and appreciation
of what her own disabled students must encounter daily.
Rebecca Rives observed Ms. Shugol's classroom and wrote: "Picture
a social studies class with five or six students whose physical disabilities
range from mildly palsied students who can speak haltingly, to wheelchair
bound students who rely on assistive devices to communicate basic needs
and ideas. At the center is Wendy, in her wheelchair or a classroom chair
with crutches resting nearby. Monroe, her new working dog, snoozes on a
mat by her desk. The students are engaged in a learning experience that
closely approximates that of their fully mobile peers. Wendy adapts and
extends instruction with everything that she can get her hands on. She puts
students on the computer to search the Internet for useful information and
key in lesson and projects. She walks them through large print and simplified
versions of history and government texts to lay the foundation for higher
level thinking. She extends their learning by taking them outside the classroom
to the library and on field trips. Wendy's students understand that she
has high expectations for them and is willing to provide the necessary support
for them to achieve."
Ms. Shugol is an accomplished equestrienne, swimmer, and musician. She
performs regularly with the Fairfax City band and coaches the Northern Virginia
Hurricanes, a Paralympic swim team that she also organized. In addition,
she has received several awards in international Paralympic competitions
in Korea, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, and the Netherlands.