Shawnee Mission special education teacher Carrie Paullin’s work helping students with autism has not gone unnoticed.
Paullin has been selected to receive the 2019 Outstanding Educator of Students with Autism Award by the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders.
“We acknowledge and commend your outstanding achievement and excellence in service to area schools, including the Shawnee Mission School District,” wrote Kaye Otten, symposium chair, in a letter congratulating Paullin. “As a career educator of students with disabilities especially those with autism spectrum disorder, your dedication and expertise in the implementation of evidence-based practices, family support and training in addition to your activities outside of the classroom are a testament to your professionalism.”
Several colleagues recommended Paullin receive the award and wrote letters on her behalf, acknowledging her efforts in and out of the classroom, Otten wrote. The letters lauded Paullin for serving families of children with autism in her spare time by leading a weekend group, one-on-one therapy, and offering assistance and training for parents.
She taught 10 years in special education in Olathe Public Schools and has been at Shawnee Mission schools for the past four years. She first started as an autism coach, floating between structured language classrooms in a few elementary schools and assisting students and teachers. Now, she leads her own structured language classroom at Tomahawk Elementary.
“The main goal for our students is for them to become independent and productive citizens in the world — productive in the way that is best suited for them,” she said, noting that their goal is to help students use language to help them communicate their needs and ask for help. “I want them to be able to participate in life. Our goal is to get the students to be independent and to be able to be accepted in the classroom, accepted by the teachers, accepted by society.”
Otten noted in her letter to Paullin that the educator’s effort “to maximize the potential in each student is an excellent example of the practices” the symposium advocates.
Paullin’s passion to help other families started when she was a general education teacher and raising a son who has Asperger syndrome.
“Having to advocate for him is what inspired me to start doing research on how to work with kids with autism,” Paullin said. “There’s a huge, huge shortage of special education teachers that are willing to and able to work with this population because it’s very challenging.”
Paullin will receive the award at the Richard L. Simpson Conference on Autism on Oct. 11.