Shailee Patel, NCSD’s Director of Special Education, received the Patricia Gilcrest-Frazier Award at the recent Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education conference.
This award recognizes the outstanding service and leadership in the role of a local district special education director. The candidate must have a track record of implementing innovative programming which contributes to the field of special education. Criteria for this award also includes organizational involvement, volunteerism, and years of service.
“It's a great honor and I am thankful for this recognition,” Patel said. “My peers understand how rewarding the work that we do is to advocate for our students with disabilities.”
The award was a surprise to Patel. Several NCSD staff members attended, as well as members of Patel’s family.
“I was very shocked to see everyone there, and especially my family that flew in,” Patel said. “My boys were also there and I was so proud of them.”
Sue Toth, the Director of Special Education for South Lyon Schools and a member of the MAASE Board of Directors, delivered the presentation speech for the award and said Shailee Patel was “a fierce advocate for individuals with disabilities and she has a passionate commitment to supporting Women in Leadership.
“She is creative and bold, as evidenced by her determination to advance the opportunities for her students through Peer to Peer mentoring and Unified Sports. She has helped to establish several initiatives including district therapy dogs, sensory classrooms and adequate handicapped parking on all district campuses.”
Toth said what sets Patel apart is her exceptional vision and leadership skills.
“Imagine the vision that is required to see a trailer - yes - a 16+ foot long trailer being converted into a food truck,” Toth said. “She had the trailer painted and outfitted in order to provide a Mobile Market allowing adult students an authentic environment to learn vocational skills and gain valuable work experience.”
Among the projects Patel is proud of in her 10 years in Novi are the #Novi4All hashtag, the Mobile Market and Therapy Dog programs, the graduation rate and full continuum of services offered to students.