Special Olympics Northern California (SONC) is proud to honor seven 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 by Schools Partnership Program coordinators for the winter 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.
The honored teachers include:
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY
Mr. Greg Reichardt
Liberty High School
Mr. Reichardt is a Special Education Teacher at Liberty High School in Brentwood who has received high praise from both students and staff on campus.
A champion for inclusion, Mr. Reichardt is passionate about ensuring that every student has an opportunity to get in the game and shine – no matter their ability. He is described as an excellent, engaging teacher who communicates well with his students and makes learning fun.
Thank you, Mr. Reichardt!
Ms. Kirsten Drews
Dublin High School
Ms. Drews is a Special Day Class Teacher at Dublin High School who has been instrumental in the success of numerous Special Olympics events in the Tri-Valley.
Described as an amazing teacher who cares deeply for her students, Ms. Drews has worked to provide transportation to various Special Olympics events and coordinates logistics to ensure that each student has a memorable experience.
Thank you, Ms. Drews!
Ms. Sarah Finster & Students/Staff and Maria Carrillo High School
Santa Rosa City Schools
Ms. Finster is a Special Education Teacher at Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa and was nominated along with her staff and students in recognition of their dedication to inclusion.
Students, staff and teachers organized a schoolwide Day of Dialogue event which featured Ms. Finster leading a presentation titled, “Special-Ed and the Stigma.” The presentation focused on creating a conversation around inclusion, respectful language and breaking down stereotypes/stigmas that exist for the special education community.
Thank you, Ms. Finster and Maria Carrillo High School!
Mr. Phil Ferrigno
San Francisco Unified School District
Mr. Ferrigno is a Department Head of Physical Education and Head Football Coach at Lincoln High School.
Described as being “all in” for Special Olympics and Unified Sports, Mr. Ferrigno has brought more than 100 students to assist with setup, teardown, refereeing, score-keeping, and more at recent district-wide events. He has been instrumental in rallying together the students of Lincoln High in support of Special Olympics. In the past two years, SFUSD’s program has grown from impacting 300 students to more than 1,500 today, and Mr. Ferrigno has enthusiastically helped to support this effort. He believes that Unified Sports is one of the greatest opportunities for students in SFUSD and is proud of the work being accomplished for students of all abilities.
Thank you, Mr. Ferrigno!
SAN MATEO COUNTY
Ms. Brigit Danz
San Mateo County Office of Education
Ms. Danz is an Adaptive Physical Education Teacher for the San Mateo County Office of Education.
Ms. Danz has played an impactful role in the success of numerous Special Olympics events in the district and goes above and beyond for the students. She is described as always having a smile and an unstoppable attitude.
Thank you, Ms. Danz!
Ms. Rachel Kahoalli
Newark Memorial High School
Ms. Kahoalli is the Athletic Director at Newark Memorial High School.
She is described as going above and beyond to ensure successful Special Olympics basketball events and is passionate about providing opportunities for all students to get their moment in the spotlight. Ms. Kahoalli coordinates volunteers, organizes logistics and secures extra basketball hoops to accommodate a growing event. Her students looks forward to competing every year!
Thank you, Ms. Kahoalli!
Mr. Brad Burzynski
Armijo High School
Mr. Burzynski is a Leadership Teacher at Armijo High School in Fairfield who has been an integral part of creating a Unified Track & Field Competition for the district.
Mr. Burzynski is described as being extremely passionate and fully committed to Unified Sports and Special Olympics. He has worked closely with his leadership students to plan and execute the Unified event and goes above and beyond to show his support. Mr. Burzynski prioritizes inclusion and is a champion for the Special Olympics movement.
Thank you, Mr. Burzynski!