District 15 director honored posthumously

Jacque Stein, the late St. Francis School District 15 director, is being honored for her work.

Jacque Stein
Jacque Stein

Stein, who died Jan. 12, has been named the 2013 Special Education Administrator of the Year by the Minnesota Administrators for Special Education (MASE).

Stein was one of two people nominated for the award this year and she was chosen because of her service to the community as well as legislative activities at the state level, said Melissa Schaller, MASE past president.

Stein’s family was invited to accept the award during the state spring conference, March 14-15.

“As a tremendous educational leader, Jacqueline was highly regarded by her staff and colleagues. She loved all the students and seemed to have a special place in her heart for the students with severe mental health needs,” said Penny Kodrich, director of special services for the Edina Public Schools, in her nomination.

Stein had been with District 15 for nearly 24 years.

According to the MASE press release, she was hired by the school district as a speech and language therapist in 1989 and was later promoted to a supervisor.

Stein became the special services director in 1996.

She also started a scholarship program that benefited all students.

Stein incorporated Foundation 15, which raises funds and awards scholarships to graduating students for their post-secondary education, in 1993.

She continued to oversee, manage and chair the foundation until 2005, according to the press release.

“Stein’s dedication to Foundation 15 enabled many students to continue their education who may not have had the financial means to do so on their own.”

When discussing student individualized education programs (IEP), Stein always wanted what was best for the kids, said Tim Finn, interim special services director.

When working with Finn, Stein took great pride in looking outside the box and had the ability to brainstorm on an issue to come up with solutions which sometimes included technology or another piece of curriculum, he said.

If he had a problem, Finn said he could go to her office without an appointment and talk about the issue as long as he needed.

Stein’s job took her away from working directly with the students, but she kept tabs on the 643 special education students.

“She always knew what was going on with the kids, what kids were in programs and what their needs were,” said Finn, who was the preschool-five special education supervisor.

While Stein missed working with the students, she enjoyed working with the special education staff and working out the problems, he said.

Stein was always willing to help during the 12 years he worked with her. She was wonderfully supportive, Finn said.

She was wonderful to work with and she always stayed on top of everything that was happening in special services department, said Cyndy Fisher, special services account.

As a parent, Stein could always see the parents’ side and it always came down to what was best for the student, she said.

When working with parents, Stein was calming and reassuring to them, even when things did not go the way parents wanted, Finn said.

“I think the parents felt listened to and that their points were heard and they got a fair shake during the discussions,” he said.

“Jacque had a nice way of understanding where parents were at and (explaining) why the district could or could not do (something for the student).”

The system is confusing, but Stein had a way of helping to understand it, Finn said.

“She is dearly missed,” he said.

Stein is very deserving of this award, Fisher said.

According to the press release, MASE is a professional association that promotes programs and services to improve the education of children with disabilities, to foster high quality programs of professional development and to study problems relating to serving children with disabilities and improving the leadership of administrators for special education.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]