Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award

The Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award is named in honor of Murray O. Batten, former Director of Special Education in the Michigan Department of Education.  Nominations of deserving candidates are solicited and received by the ISD/ESA Board of Directors representative. A review committee is selected to critique the nominations with emphasis on the characteristics exemplified by Mr. Batten; Leadership, Honesty, Integrity and Dedication. This prestigious award is presented annually at the December MAASE meeting. The Batten Award was first presented in 1984.

An Amazing Career. . .

Following graduation from Wayne State University, Mr. Batten began his career serving as a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. He then became a social worker in the psychological clinic and from there a teacher of emotionally disturbed children, all in the Detroit Public Schools.

He then moved to Lansing in 1960 where he joined the Michigan Department of Education as a consultant in special education. He was promoted to supervisor of federal assistance programs for persons with disabilities in 1971. In 1973, he became state director of special education, a position he held until 1981. Throughout his career, Mr. Batten was an outstanding leader in many state and national professional organizations. He was a recipient of the Marvin E. Beekman Award in 1982.

In His Honor. . .

Murray Batten had a reputation for being a kind, compassionate listener, who always sought the positive in those with whom he came in contact. After his untimely death in 1983, MAISEA decided to sponsor the Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award.

The Award. . .

This award is given to practicing ISD/ESA special education administrators who emulate the qualities of honesty, integrity, trust, and compassion that were exemplified by Murray Batten throughout his lifetime.

This special award is dedicated at a special time of the year, which is most reflective of the ideals of this compassionate and caring man. The award will be presented at the MAASE meeting scheduled closest to Christmas.

The recipients of the Murray O. Batten Award will receive a specially designed, solid gold, commemorative ring. The ring was chosen as a lasting reminder of the commitment to excellence exemplified by Murray Batten and the award recipients.


Nominations for the Murray O. Batten Award are considered by the MAASE Murray O. Batten Award Committee.  This committee is formed annually and is chaired by the ISD/ESA MAASE Executive Board Representative.  It includes the previous year’s award recipient, a member of the Batten family (if possible), and three additional MAASE members.

The nomination should include:

  1. A nomination letter which specifically addresses the following four characteristics:
    • Leadership
    • Personal and Professional Ethics
    • Humanism and Caring
    • Accomplishments
  2. Up to three letters of support attached to your letter of nomination. No additional letters of support will be considered.
  3. A current resume or vita of the nominee.

For the Batten brochure, click here.

2016 Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award Winner
John Bretschneider
Position: Director of Special Education
District: Wexford-Missaukee ISD

Past Murray O. Batten Humanitarian Award Winners
Year Award Winner
2016 John Bretschneider
2015 Cherie Wager
2014 Dawn Bentley
2013 Ann Walton
2012 Laurie Jefsen
2011 Janis Weckstein
2010 Randy Schantz
2009 Sharon Melko
2008 Pamela Zandt
2007 Diane Heinzelman
2006 Greg LaMore
2005 Laurie VanderPloeg
2004 Scott Hubble
2003 Wayne Buletza
2002 Mike Contat
2001 Ruggero Dozzi
1999 Jeff Siegel
1995 George Barnes
1994 Fred Chappell
1993 Jay Leach
1992 Harry Grether
1991 Marge Joslin
1990 Tom Howard
1989 Jerry Reimann
1988 Ed Birch
1987 Gene Thurber
1986 Annlee Decent
1985 Richard Baldwin
1984 John Mader