Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Year of Gratitude, Day 59

Today was the 5th Annual Outstanding Women of North Harris County Luncheon presented by the North Harris County Branch of the American Association of University Women. I had the honor of introducing the Outstanding Woman in Education honoree, Dr. Grace Davis England.


In 1955 Grace England graduated magna cum laude from Lamar University with degrees in English, elementary education and physical education. She began her career as an elementary school teacher in Port Neches, Texas. While she had always wanted to be a teacher, it was not until 1965 that she found her true calling in life as a special educator in a small class of students with neurological impairments. She went on to earn her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from North Texas University and her Doctorate of Philosophy in Child Development and Special Education from Texas Women’s University.
After passage of the federal Education of Handicapped Children Act in 1975, Dr. England was chosen to be the Director of Special Education in the Klein Independent School District. Under her guidance, the Klein District gained national and international recognition for its services to children with disabilities, from birth through age 21.
Among her many honors, Dr. England has been recognized as Outstanding Professional of the Year by the International Council for Learning Disabilities,  Director of the Year by the Texas Council of Administrators of Special Education, and Distinguished Alumna of Lamar University. She was named one of 75 individuals who had made a significant impact on the Klein Independent School District. The district’s first Early Childhood and Prekindergarten Center was dedicated in her honor. Dr. England also has been the recipient of commendations and proclamations from the United States House of Representatives and the Texas Senate.
When asked what advice she would give young women as they choose and pursue future careers, Dr. England said, “Choose you career not only with your head, but with your heart.”
When I first met Dr. England, I was 46-years-old and struggling to make sense of the death of my first grandchild who, had she lived, would have been severely, profoundly disabled. Dr. England observed me working with young children with disabilities and suggested that I consider seeking certification to teach special education, a suggestion that I believe changed my life. The path to certification was long and circuitous, interrupted by a move overseas and the premature birth of my second granddaughter who was fortunate to receive services through the KEEP Pace and Early Childhood Education programs established by Dr. England. In just a few weeks that same granddaughter will begin a new Life 10 transition program being piloted in Klein.
The impact Dr. England has had on my personal life and the lives of my family has been profound; and so it is with deepest gratitude and honor that I introduce to you North Harris County’s Outstanding Education Honoree, the Amazing Grace of at-risk children, Dr. Grace Davis England.

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