WOONSOCKET – The School Department honored its best Wednesday night, presenting its annual recognition awards to a teacher, a teacher assistant, a secretary and a custodian.
Jessica Frechette, a special needs teacher, collected Teacher of the Year honors for the department for her role in helping students in the classroom and also for her work to add an accessible playground structure at the Globe Park Elementary School where she works.
In recommending her for the honor, Special Education Director Carole Y. Lerner wrote about meeting Frechette as a “rookie” teacher working in a medical fragile classroom at the high school. Students in the classroom had medical equipment similar to that used in hospitals but benefited from Frechette’s ability to apply the skills of a seasoned teacher to their individualized lessons.
“Indeed, these were not patients, they were high school students who were being challenged to meet or exceed every ounce of cognitive, social and emotional potential held within them,” Lerner wrote.
“Jessica embraces and embodies the philosophy that all children can learn and that they must be included in public schools alongside their non-disabled peers,” Lerner added.
While working at Woonsocket High School, Lerner said, Frechette initiated many activities to promote interaction between general education students and students with medical and physical disabilities.
She continued her work with special needs students after moving to a specialized classroom at Globe Park Elementary School and achieved the transition from the high school level to elementary “flawlessly,” Lerner wrote.
“For her it was a logical step in the development of her extensive knowledge based around educating children with intrusive disability conditions. I am constantly impressed by Jessica’s intellectual curiosity and desire to learn every aspect of teaching students with significant special needs from preschool through the transition to adult services,” Lerner said.
Frechette was also instrumental in forging many partnerships between the special education department and support organizations and businesses in the community.
She helped mobilize those partners to help raise funding for a new accessible playground at the school, the first in the city, and carry out its installation during a “Community Build Day,” all within four months, Lerner said.
The word “impossible” is not in Jessica Frechette’s vocabulary. She is successful in every assignment she undertakes, Lerner said.
Sharing the spotlight with Frechette on Wednesday were Teacher Assistant of the Year Diane Hampson, Secretary of the Year Deborah Mitchell, and Custodian of the Year Raymond Duquette.
Mitchell was praised for her role in helping to prepare the department’s busing schedule, and Duquette feted for his work at the high school to help install a new Bio-Technology classroom.
School Superintendent Giovanna M. Donoyan called each of the honorees to the cafetorium stage to receive their awards and the audience responded with a standing ovation each time.
Members of the School Committee also praised the award recipients during the committee comment portion of the meeting.
“It shows there is a lot of great staff in the school system and congratulations to you all,” School Committeewoman Anita McGuire-Forcier told the honorees. “It is great to be recognized.”