- Wood River Middle School
Outstanding Administrator of the Year
Outstanding Special Education Administrator of the Year Named by the Idaho Association of Special Education Administrators
Award Goes to Debi Gutknecht - Retired Special Education Director for the Blaine County School District
Idaho Association of Special Education Administrators (IASEA) recognized Debi Gutknecht as a leader who has excelled in the management and curriculum of special education programs and the promotion of the special education profession. Ms. Gutknecht recently retired from the Blaine County School District.
Ms. Gutknecht began teaching special education 26 years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada (Henderson Teacher of the Year, 1995-96). She quickly acquired the experience and advanced education to administer special education programs in Blaine County School District, beginning in 1997. The close of this school year finds IASEA's Outstanding Special Education Administrator of the Year retiring from the profession but having left a strong legacy for the community.
Blaine County School Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes notes that Ms. Gutknecht has, "...developed and strengthened programs and supports for students with disabilities from preschool to adulthood, to the point that they have become a magnet that attracts families to Blaine County." Through her career, she has implemented the V.O.I.C.E. 2 transition program for 18-21-year-olds, social-emotional learning standards and program, as well as several literacy expansion programs. She has also expanded the GATE program in her district and served as a trainer for many entities, including the Community Resilience Model, Idaho's State Department of Education and Lindamood-Bell Learning.
Alturas Elementary School Principal, Brad Henson, describes Debi as, "...an advocate for children, teachers and parents. She masterfully finds the balance between honoring the individual while maneuvering the legalities of our Federal programs within the bounds of the resources available. She is ...a dedicated and compassionate leader, forward-thinking problem-solver, eloquent communicator, brilliant teacher and advocate for the students she so fervently fights for and believes in." He also points out how prominently Debi's knowledge, perspective and leadership have been recognized and sought out by peers, colleagues and collaborators around the state, including Idaho State Department of Education, and the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center.
Hailey Elementary School special education teacher, Sara Gilman, finds Debi to be kind and genuine while also, "...holding us to a high standard. She expects our paperwork to be impeccable, and she pushes us to be the best teachers, case managers and advocates for our students. Above all, she never loses sight of what is best for kids." Parent Lisa Marie Gonzalez recounts Debi's "...demeanor, accountability and professionalism of understanding our parental needs to build a relationship with staff [who worked with her child] has always been extremely helpful."