Beekman Award

The Beekman Award is the preeminent award presented annually by the MAASE Organization at the August MAASE Summer Institute.

Beginning in 1973 when Marvin Beekman became the first recipient, the award has recognized individuals who have distinguished themselves in the administration and leadership of special education programs on the local, regional (ISD) or state level. The President-Elect appoints a representative committee who focuses on the candidate's education, experience, current administrative responsibilities, honors and special recognition, organizational memberships and involvement, community activities, and any distinguishing qualities which would make a candidate worthy of the award.

Click here to view the Original Beekman Video - 1997 - Part 1
Click here to view the Original Beekman Video - 1997 - Part 2

Click here to download the October 24, 1985 interview with Marvin E. Beekman
To save this file right-click on the link and select "Save Target As"

2018 Beekman Award Winner
Laura LaMore
Position: Executive Director of Special Education
District: Grand Rapids Public Schools
1331 Franklin, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49501

President Brenda Tarsa's presentation:

Annually, at the August Summer Institute, the highest of the MAASE honors is bestowed upon one of our colleagues and is presented with the Beekman Award. The nominee must:

  • Be a special education administrator at the local, regional, or state level.
  • Have made significant contributions on behalf of special education. 
  • Have demonstrated quality service in the field of special education.
  • Have exhibited integrity in his/her daily work and relationships.
  • Have diverse involvement in both the community and educational arenas.
  • Have made contributions to special education with statewide significance.
  • Have made significant contributions to MAASE.
  • Have proven him or herself to be a visionary.
  • Possess personal attributes that make him/her an outstanding representative of the Beekman Award.

Since its inception in 1973, the Beekman Award has been etched in deep tradition. Nominations are sent to the MAASE President, who then selects a committee of readers. Those readers are representative from all five MAASE regions around the state. Each reader is unaware of who the other readers are. Individually, they use a scoring rubric to rate the candidates and when completed, the results are sent directly to the President.  The readers know do not know the final identify of the winner. In fact, the winner does not know yet that he/she has won...only the president has this knowledge. 

With that being said, I have been keeping a very big secret for some time!

Many years ago, I vividly remember walking into a high school classroom and spotting a poster hanging on the wall. It's message deeply resonated with me...

“What is popular is not always right. What is right is not always popular.” 

That quote was brought to the forefront recently when I read what one Director wrote about this year’s nominee:

“He/she is a masterful change agent; stays the course even in the face of strong opposition. [This person] makes calculated, courageous decisions that may not always be popular, but makes them nonetheless because they are the right thing to do for students with special needs. This candidate is involved, innovative, and is a leader who leads with integrity and always by example. [She/he] is an approachable, fearless leader who seeks to support or make changes in practice for the betterment of students.” 

Oprah Winfrey once said, “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not.”  This year’s candidate has been described by nominators as having integrity and many other personal and professional attributes such as:

  • Courage
  • Motivation
  • Innovation
  • Knowledge
  • Compassion

Additional characteristics of the nominee were captured by the following quotes from colleagues:

  • “[He/she] never loses focus on the special and unique needs of children, finding compromises and solutions that truly impact children positively.” 
  • ”[This leader] is always looking for ways to improve, to get better results for children."
  • The Assistant Superintendent for Pre K-12 Instructional Support conveyed, “Over my two decades in education, I have never worked with an educator who is as knowledgeable in all areas pertaining to Special Education.”
  • Another Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services wrote: “[He/she] has a vision for serving all students, and not looking at general education and special education but “just education.”
  • The Superintendent shared, “[This employee] navigates change with positivity and professionalism [and] is a skilled communicator, who touts the importance of frequent communications with staff and families, particularly during times of transition.”
  • A parent of a child with a disability wrote, “[The administrator] is sincere, direct, and an excellent listener [and] makes us feel valued and respected...My son’s growth has been remarkable and I truly believe that it is due to [this educator’s] vision, tenacity, and dedication to the program.” 

Interested in knowing who this person is? Here are some clues:

This year’s recipient’s earned a: 

  • B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Pittsburgh
  • Master of Education in Special Education from the University of Pittsburgh
  • Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Grand Valley State University

 Know who it is yet? Maybe these hints will help...

Over the last 35 years in education, she has served in the capacities of...

  • Teacher
  • Teacher consultant
  • Principal
  • Professor
  • Planner-Monitor
  • Consultant for the Michigan Department of Education
  • An ISD Director of Specialized Instruction 
  • Executive Director for Special Education Early Intervention Services 

In her “spare time”she is involved with community organizations which encompass the:  

  • Michigan Special Olympics
  • League of Women Voters
  • National Civility Center
  • Arc of Michigan

Other notable accomplishments include being a recipient of the Special Olympics Longevity Award and the Innovators Award for her contributions in writing the Special Olympics Manual.

Finally, in the words of Woodrow Wilson, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with privilege and great honor that I introduce to you the 2018 Beekman Award winner …. Laura Lamore!

Past Beekman Award Winners
Year Award Winner
2018 Laura LaMore
2017 Vanessa Winborne
2016 Greg LaMore
2015 Kathleen Barker
2014 Laurie VanderPloeg
2013 Donna Tinberg
2012 Thomas Koepke
2011 Lucy Hough-Waite
2010 Eleanor White
2009 Kathleen Golinski
2008 Cynthia Smith
2007 Kathy Fortino
2006 Jim Walker
2005 Tom Miller
2004 W. Scott Hubble
2003 Jim Shaw
2002 William Hartl
2001 Michael Dombrowski
2000 Maureen Slade
1999 Robert Dietiker
1998 Jan Baxter
1997 Donald Trap
1996 Thomas J. Rivard
1995 Cherie Simpson
1994 Jay R. Leach
1993 John E. Lindholm
1992 Don Bollinger
1991 Bob Cross
1990 Fred Chappell
1989 June M. Schaefer
1988 Leonard Rezrnierski
1987 Bert Donaldson
1986 Fred Nowland
1985 Ed Birch
1984 Larry Campbell
1983 Tom Howard
1982 Murray Batten
1981 Casmir Schesky
1980 Arnold Larson
1979 Tracy Stockman
1978 Charles Mange
1977 Mary Blair
1976 Joseph Noorthoek
1975 Walter Wend
1974 David Haarer
1973 Marvin Beekman