Dr. Connie Gartner, director of curriculum and instruction at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf (WSD), received the Leadership & Service Award from the Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD). CEASD presented the award to Gartner at their annual conference banquet in Denver, Colorado on April 28. Marla Walsh, director for the Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and superintendent of the Wisconsin School for the Deaf, accepted the award on Gartner’s behalf.
“To be nominated among people I hold in great esteem is quite a humbling experience for me,” Gartner said of the award. “It is a great organization that has as its sole purpose the support and furtherment of deaf and hard of hearing education for kids.”
Gartner has worked at the Wisconsin School for the Deaf for over 21 years, developing a bilingual/bicultural educational program for Wisconsin’s deaf students. She has implemented data-driven school improvement and student learning outcomes. Her strategic planning has advanced technology, curriculum alignment with Wisconsin state standards, and implementation of educator effectiveness at WSD. She has also taken an active role in WSD’s pursuit of CEASD accreditation.
While pursuing her master’s degrees, she learned of the leading-edge research about language and culture. She appreciated the newer ideas and learned the WSD was implementing them. “Being able to come to WSD and really see the research I had been engaged in being deployed here has been a really edifying experience,” Gartner said.
The CEASD Leadership and Service Award is meant to recognize leaders with ten or more years of experience serving in education for the deaf and have recently retired or will retire at the end of the school year.
Upon retirement, Gartner plans to fulfill unfinished travel plans with her husband, who is a teacher. And, as is the case with many lifelong educators, she already has the feeling that she will serve in other capacities in what she calls “stepping down but not letting go.” In her retirement, she may continue working to support more opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing students in the STEM fields. “Something with telescopes and astronomy,” she said.
Gartner has been grateful to work for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction over all of these years and their support for the school. “I’m a huge believer in residential education for deaf kids. They have the opportunity to be just regular kids with other kids who are like them and with people who know how to communicate directly with them. To let go of that is a bit sad for me, but I’m a big believer in new, fresh ideas, and it’s an exciting time to be in deaf education in the state.”