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Megan Lopez working with studentsSixth grade Special Education teacher Megan Lopez starts preparing for the new school year as early as May. While her future students are coming to the end of their elementary school careers, she is already reviewing their IEPs or Individualized Educational Plans, getting to know them and their needs.

“On day one I can look at my students and know who might need more time, who needs help with organization, who may need more time in the hallway – so I just know them in September,” she said.

Preparation is just one part of what makes Mrs. Lopez a standout teacher. It’s also the different approaches she takes with students to meet their needs, the communication she has with their parents and the way in which she makes learning fun.

Mrs. Lopez was recently named the Mary P. Van Derzee Special Educator of the Year by the East Greenbush Special Needs Parent Support Group. The annual award goes to a District employee who goes above and beyond for students with special needs.

“Megan Lopez is an amazing educator who is well deserving of this award,” said Goff Principal Wayne Grignon. “Being a 6th grade teacher, she has such a profound impact on students entering the middle school. She has open communication with families and strives to set her students up for success.”

Megan Lopez

Mrs. Lopez helps a student in math class.

Mrs. Lopez works with 15 special education students. She splits the group into two separate instructional support program classes during the day, pre-teaching and re-teaching topics from students’ classes.

“I’ll sit down with students and work with them one-on-one,” she said. “It’s a time to reinforce skills where they’re behind or feeling lost.”

Mrs. Lopez and her teaching assistant Wendy Curtis also push into ELA, math, science and social studies classes throughout the day to help her students.

Parents recognize the hard work Mrs. Lopez puts in to teaching kids with very different needs.

“Mrs. Lopez is an amazing teacher who has gone above and beyond to help my son,” a parent wrote in a nomination letter. “Her communication with me started the first week of school with an email introducing herself. She has stayed late after school to help my son on more than one occasion, she used her own money to buy a better binder to help keep him stay organized and has loved him like her own son.”

For Mrs. Lopez, the best moments in teaching come when a student learns a new skill.

“I love it when the kids finally get something and you see that look in their eyes, that sigh of relief,” she said. “I think that’s pretty cool when they grasp something that’s been hard for a long time.”

Congratulations to Mrs. Lopez – the Mary P. Van Derzee Special Educator of the Year!

Mary P. Van Derzee Special Educator of the Year

  • Megan Lopez – 2017-18
  • Cheri Walsh and Jacqui Perry – 2016-17
  • Paula Sobol – 2015-16
  • Audra DiBacco – 2014-15
  • Karen Anderson-Green – 2013-14
  • Lalena DiMarco – 2012-13
  • Vincenzina Farry – 2011-12
  • Jennifer Cavotta-Riley – 2010-11
  • John Rivera – 2009-10
  • Barbara Neiman – 2008-09
  • Tammy Kirwin – 2007-08
  • Kathy Rutherford – 2006-07
  • Joanne Smith – 2005-06
  • Laurie Mendrysa – 2004-05
  • James McHugh – 2003-04
  • Deborah Rubenstein – 2002-03