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Robinson named ADVRS 2017 Educator of the Year

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County Schools teacher Samantha Robinson has been named the 2017 Educator of the Year by the Montgomery Area Governor’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

The committee is a part of the Alabama Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, which helps high school graduates with special needs find employment opportunities.

Robinson received the award at a luncheon earlier this month, and said it was an honor to be recognized.

Robinson said she was thankful to the students who made this possible.

“They make me want to do more for them, just from the unconditional love that they have for someone to help them,” Robinson said.

She said she was also appreciative to the parents of these students for all that they do.

Robinson is in her 20th year as an educator, and teaches Family and Consumer Science at Verbena High School.

Robinson was nominated for the honor by April Jones, the Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

for Chilton County.

In the application, Jones highlighted Robinson’s work with her 2016 self-contained class for special education students at Chilton County High School, and how she had secured a grant to provide animal care training for the students.

Robinson said she also helped the students learn to use Gmail and speech-to-text.

Two years ago, Robinson was the transition specialist for Chilton County Schools. She focused on helping connect teachers and students to opportunities, such as employment, for the students after high school.

“There is such a need for resources for these students in our county,” Robinson said.

Her first job working with students with special needs was as a speech pathologist. She went on to get her master’s degree in special education. She has taught special education classes for 12 years. She has also taught Family and Consumer Science.

She continues to be passionate about the need for more services for graduates with special needs in transitioning to productive lives after high school.

“We have nothing that is set aside just for when our population with severe disabilities leave us,” Robinson said. “We have nothing that picks them up, except for what VR (Vocational Rehabilitation Services) does.”

Robinson stressed that ADVRS can only serve so many.

This year Robinson teaches in the new VHS Devena Designs academy. Her students recently received a letter and certificate of recognition from Congressman Gary Palmer’s office for their work.

She hopes to merge her two passions by having inclusion class students visit her class and be able to learn to use the equipment.