Patricia Sheehey, associate professor in the College of Education (COE) Department of Special Education, was named Professional of the Year by the Special Parent Information Network (SPIN). Co-sponsored by the Disability & Communication Access Board and the Department of Education, SPIN is a parent-to-parent organization in Hawaiʻi that has been providing information, support, and referrals to parents of children and young adults with disabilities and the professionals who serve them since 1985.

Sheehey has served as an educator to hundreds of students with disabilities. After working for many years as a special education teacher on the Big Island, she returned to Oʻahu and earned her doctorate in exceptionalities at the COE. A mother of 10 children, eight biological and two adopted, Sheehey advocated for the educational needs as well as dignity of choice and belonging within the community for two of her own children with disabilities. Today, she is the resource care provider for her two-year old granddaughter.

Center on Disability Studies Associate Professor Jean Johnson, who was the 2009 SPIN Professional of the Year, said, “Dr. Sheehey has been a pivotal force in the community as an advocate for the inclusion of all children into their classrooms and communities. Through her community work with the Special Education Advisory Council and the Hawaiʻi Early Intervention Coordinating Council, she has brought best practices from research, insisting that they become a reality in the lives of children and their families.”

A SPIN conference presenter for years, Sheehey has been with the college’s Department of Special Education since 2002. She is dedicated to mentoring young teachers in how to partner with families and is an advisory member to numerous boards/councils, including the Special Education Advisory Council and Dyslexia Working Group.

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