Celebrating Our Teachers of the Season

Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) is proud to honor five teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students and have encouraged an environment of inclusion and acceptance throughout their respective school communities.

The selected teachers were nominated for the recent 2019-2020 season. SONC recognizes the contributions of partnering special education, adapted physical education (APE) and other teachers and administrators for their outstanding efforts in impacting the lives of students with intellectual disabilities.



Honored Teacher:

Shirin Kamal | San Ramon Valley High School | Special Education Specialist

From her nomination:

For this season and each season of basketball for the last nine years, Mrs. Kamal has helped lead the way at San Ramon creating an inclusive and Unified event. She helps organize planning meetings, communicates frequently, problem solves, and makes herself and her assistant, Diane Marzoff, available on the day of the event to help make sure all goes off as planned. She is a huge asset for San Ramon Valley High School and is very deserving of this award!

Mrs. Kamal says that “her students look forward to Special Olympics with great anticipation each season as it is something exciting and positive to attend.” She also stated that “the Unified Program is another great thing as anytime we can bring our general education students together with our special needs students, it is wonderful.”

Mrs. Kamal is a teacher who is exceptionally dedicated to her students and to Special Olympics. She is engaging, loving, and kind to her students. Her teaching philosophy is that every student has the potential to learn and believes that every student is capable and outstanding in their own way. She is also the co-director (along with Diane Marzoff) of an after-school program called Fair Chance for Special Needs. They work on social and communication skills, self-advocacy, sports, arts and crafts, music, dance, and much more!

Thank you, Mrs. Kamal!



Honored Teacher:

Jennifer Rincon | Monterey Peninsula Unified School District | Adaptive Physical Education Specialist

From her nomination:

Ms. Rincon took the giant leap of taking the Special Olympics Track and Field Competition to a virtual platform for these unprecedented times of distance learning due to COVID19. She spent countless hours putting together an amazing video of our students and families participating in the event, including opening ceremonies, student competition, and closing ceremonies. Her effort culminated in an inspiring and heartwarming virtual MPUSD Special Olympics video.

By taking on the challenge of putting this event together, Ms. Rincon motivated students, staff and families to carry on the Special Olympics tradition at MPUSD and provided a much-needed sense of community for our athletes during this unusual and sometimes stressful time. She is a huge proponent of Special Olympics and Unified Sports.

Thank you, Ms. Rincon!



Honored Teacher:

Chloe Stidger | John F. Kennedy High School | Special Day Class & Autism Teacher

From her nomination:

Ms. Stidger has gone above and beyond during this basketball season. This past season, their basketball team was able to recruit the most peers (partners in general education) that the program has ever seen, bringing a new level of inclusion to campus. She was instrumental in ensuring that there were enough participants for the first basketball clinic with the Sacramento Kings, bringing a group of 20 students on a public transportation trip that took some serious planning to pull off.

Ms. Stidger and her team at John F. Kennedy High School consistently go above and beyond to serve their students. From working with leadership and other students, to creating a school-wide R-word campaign, to serving as a community sports coach, she is committed to ensuring her students have the best opportunities both on and off the playing field.

Thank you, Ms. Stidger!



Honored Teacher:

Jaime Melvin | Dublin High School | Special Day Class Teacher

From her nomination:

Ms. Melvin has been involved with Special Olympics in Tri-Valley since it began nine years ago. She has supported the program, instructed athletes and spearheaded leadership through the Best Buddies program - a program that she currently leads at Dublin High School. Ms. Melvin has been an incredible asset to all of the participants and athletes who compete in the Schools Partnership Program and she is an incredible role model to all teachers. She motivates her students and inspires peers to make a difference by making and engaging in meaningful activities that help all students and athletes learn the importance of being a good friend, student, teammate and athlete.

“Special Olympics offers my students the opportunity to participate and compete alongside peers and friends,” said Ms. Melvin. “This affords all students and peers the opportunity to know and feel that they are valuable and feel the power of belonging!"

Thank you, Ms. Melvin!



Honored Teacher:

Shani Compton | West Contra Costa Unified School District | Adaptive Physical Education Specialist

From her nomination:

Ms. Compton led the charge in coordinating two very different age-range events: preschool Young Athletes Program at Riverside Elementary; and high school track and field at Kennedy High.  She has demonstrated leadership and innovations to bridge the gap between students in general education and students with special needs. Ms. Compton organized and trained students and teachers weekly for a fun culminating event at their schools. Unfortunately, with the situation the country is in, Ms. Compton was not able to see her vision in flourishing this spring.

Ms. Compton has always seen the benefits of the SONC program with her students and feels it has been a key factor in developing a positive climate among all students in various levels of needs. She is a dedicated teacher who spends most of her time creating activities that are not only educational, but also inclusive. Ms. Compton has many remarkable abilities and is capable of being flexible to support others in their quest to become successful in meeting their personal goals.  

Thank you, Ms. Compton!


Learn more about the Schools Partnership Program